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Musical Heritage of India

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Item Code: NAO774
Author: Lalita Ramakrishna
Publisher: Shubhi Publications, Gurgaon
Language: English
Edition: 2017
ISBN: 9788187226611
Pages: 292 (21 Color Illustrations)
Other Details 11.50 X 9.00 inch
Weight 1.60 kg
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Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
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100% Made in India
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Book Description
About The Book

Nataraj is not only the lord of dance and rhythm but symbolises classical music as well. His body is made of melody (Nada Tanu) and he shares his propensity with Saraswati, his sister.

India's heritage of music is yet to be discovered and fully appreciated. Planted in the rich soil of mythology, philosophy and folk idiom. classical music has sprouted foliage and flowers of exquisite beauty.

This book is a pleasing work that will satisfy the general reader and well as the serious student. A knowledge o raga, tala and musical form is necessary to fully enjoy a concert. ln addition, we need to know the basic differences between the two sister systems-the Hindustani and the Karnatak. Both these highly complex art forms originate from the same ancient tradition.

The first section explains these pre-historic beginnings. The idea of raga, the method of calculating time in 'I rhythm, the profusion of musical instruments form this ancient musical heritage. The old praband has are the precursors of the modern Khayal, Tarana or Kriti.

The second section chronicles the evolution of Hindustani music form Tansen to the present day. The ragas and the 'Thaats' (basic scales) on which they are based has been clarified. Chapters on the important musical instruments along with the ustads, on the Tala and Theka structures and renowned percussion experts, on musical forms and their gharanas-give the different aspects. Ragamala paintings are and important part of music history and theory.

The third section is on Karnatak music. It deals with the historical progress of this genre. The major vidwans from the 14 c A.D. till today are chronicled. The highly scientific Mela (scale) system that encompasses the ragas, the mathematical accuracy of talal rhythms, the importance or words and lyric in the Kriti and Pallavi forms, the various important musical instruments are all `given in succinct form. At relevant points, the contrast and the similarities between the two systems are shown.

A brief look at the modern trends and fusion music completes the book.

About The Author

Lalita Ramakrishna has a deep love for India's philosophy and culture and specially for its classical tradition of music. After doing M.Phil in English Literature (C.I.E.F.L.), she acquired a doctorate in Karnataka music (Delhi University). She hopes this book will excite the curiosity of readers and lead them on to a further quest of India's cultural heritage. It will expand their horizons, laterally, to cover the Northern as well as the Southern systems of Music. It will also dive into the depths of the past and conduct the reader all the way up to the contemporary scene.

Lalita Ramakrishna has explored the classical music scene and located the essential unity between the Hindustan and Karanatak systems. She has explained the nature of the elusive elements of Raga. Laya and Sruti in a clear manner.


This book attempts to give a composite view of Indian classical music in an interesting format by including colourful photos and paintings. It is an outline of the major areas in this art from its prehistoric beginnings to the present day. It contains a little of everything and will hopefully arouse the interest of the reading public for a deeper study.

I am profoundly grateful to the music vidwans who have been generous in giving their photographs for publication.

This book could not have taken shape without the encouragement and help of my husband GVR, who has involved himself in every aspect of this project. My sister, Shakuntala Ramani gave enthusiastic support, which was of great help when the project seemed like an impossible exercise. Shanker's skill with the camera got me some rare pictures.

My heartfelt thanks to Dr. Sumati Muktatkar for her foreword. She has a great name in musicology and is warmly remembered by her many students at Delhi University where I studied.

Among the older maestros and among the younger group, I have not mentioned many excellent performers, due to lack of time and space.

The following books have been an invaluable help while writing this book:

Indian Music - Thakur Jaideva Singh
Evolution of Raga and Tala - M.R. Gautam
Naad - Sandeep Bagchi
South Indian Music - Prof Sambamurthy
A History of South India - K.A.Nilakanta Sastri
South Indian Classical Music - Ludwig Pesch
The Great Masters - Mohan Nadkarni
Shruti Magazine - All issues
Diacritical marks have been given for many of the words in the Glossary.
I am grateful to the Development Commissioner, Handicrafts, Govt. of India for permission to use the pictures of Ancient Instruments with descriptive notes from the brochure of Sangita Vadyalaya, Chennai. Some rare pictures of maestros of Hindustani music were included through the courtesy of Sangit Mahabharati, Mumbai.


I welcome this well illustrated attractive book on Indian classical music. This book explains the special identity of classical music in India which differentiates it from other forms of popular music. The author has highlighted the important milestones in the evolution and development of this genre. From Vedic chanting and regional folk tunes, a rich complex system of raga and tala (melody and rhythm) has taken shape. This classical stream began much before the second century B.C. when its grammar was codified in the Natya Shastra. It has been flowing all along absorbing trends and fashions in music into the classical system over the years.

The unique feature in Indian classical music is its wide sweep that encompasses the subcontinent. It has bonded languages together and absorbed religious and ethnic variations in its mellifluous sweep.

This book shows the great similarity that exists between the Hindustani and Karnatak systems. Their source is the same, but, since the last seven hundred years, history and geography have made them emphasise differing aesthetical ideas. One system explores the beauty of flow, glides, ambiguity and shading. The other system delights in clarity, crispness, words and rhythm. Both these systems are true to their ancient origin and today there is increasing mutual awareness and appreciation between them.

The book traces classical music development uptil the beginning of the new. millennium. It leaves you with a feeling of awe and wonder that an art so ancient is still so vibrant and diverse.

I congratulate the author and all those who have been involved in this project. It is wonderful to have a layman's guide, a 'pop book' on classical music. Bharata said in Natya Shastra that all art should be savoured and relished like a tasty dish. The pictures in the book make it readable and entertaining.


Indian classical music is a sophisticated art form that requires a great deal of listening and a patient learning of its mechanics. It has specialized in melody and the subtle nuances of sound.

This book offers a colourful view of the whole spectrum of its genesis and its development till today. In ancient India Samskrit pundits and regional tribal bards nurtured this art. Musicians and musicologists were peripatetic and carried their knowledge all over the country from Kashmir, from Deccan, and from Gwalior to the east, west, north and south.

Ancient Tamizh and Samskrit music scholars had a generous capacity of give and take. This is evident from a study of the Silappadhikaram and the Natya Shastra.

After Jayadeva, the saint poet of the 13th c. A.D. this mighty river of classical music bifurcates into two major streams. They share the sama raga, swara and tala heritage but are totally different in the handling of these vital entities.

The Hindustani section gives a brief idea of the different gharanas (styles) the talas, forms and instruments of this genre. Tansen is the seminal figures that gave the music of his time a durbar look and classical music became a status symbol of the aristocracy. It was classical music of great mellifluousness and flow set in the dialects of the people

In the south, three great saint composers, called the Trinity, shaped the features of the Karnatak idiom. A fascination for mathematical calculation led-karnatak musicians to explore complex time divisions in rhythm. Their scientific temperament gave a viable classification theory for the plethora of ragas.

During the latter half of the twentieth century music came out of the mehfils and palaces. It was available to the common man in concerts and on radio and T.V. The unprecedented growth of communication systems in the two decades has given rise to mixes marriages of various systems in fusion music. The common man and the younger generation are now the patrons of music.

Inspite of all modern ramifications the inner core of pure classical raga music is kept alive by the connoisseurs and the teachers. Modern trends do not vitiate the vital and substantial contours nurtured over twenty plus centuries.


  Foreword vii
  Preface ix
  Introduction xi
  Ancient Classical Music  
1 Back to the beginning 3
2 Nada, Sruti, Swara, gamaka 23
3 Concept of raga and alapa 39
4 Laya and Tala 55
5 Musical instruments 67
6 Prabandha 73
  Hindustani Music  
7 Evolution and expansion 81
8 Raga and thaat 107
9 Musical instruments 121
10 Tala and theka 133
11 Musical forms 145
12 Ragamala paintings 167
  Karnatak Music  
13 Emerging identity 173
14 Musical instruments 211
15 Mela and Sahitya 223
16 Tala and Percussion 235
17 Musical Forms 245
18 Characteristics 265
  The scene today 277
  Glossary 281


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