Plucked Instruments of Northern India with Special Reference to Sitar

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Item Code: NAU579
Author: Dr. Prateek Chaudhuri
Publisher: Sanjay Prakashan
Language: English
Edition: 2006
ISBN: 9788147531735
Pages: 190 (Throughout B/W Illustrations)
Other Details 10.00 X 7.50 inch
Weight 530 gm
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Book Description
About The Book

The book is an attempt to highlight the process of evolution of our plucked instruments with a special reference to the most popular instrument Sitar. In Indian Music there are more than thousand kinds of instruments evident in the history of our music and many of them are now not in practice due to various reason. Many instruments have been used by the folk singers and players but very few in the classical music. In our classical music tradition not many instruments could have a place in performance. In the North Indian Classical Music there are very few plucked instruments which have come to stay under the category of classical instruments, suitable for performance. This book is an attempt to focus the evolution of some instruments in its physical and musical form. Each main instrument is being discussed in details in its various forms viz; physical structure , tuning of instruments , playing technique and its current form of playing. The book is based on facts and documents with photo-graphs, written in a simple language for the benefit of general readers. This may interest the students of music, dealing in the subject of evolution of plucked instruments for an analytical study with gradual changes in it's physical form and development of the performance through different period.

About The Autor

Prateek Chaudhuri, a brilliant performer, is acclaimed as one of the most outstanding Sitar players of the country today amongst the young generation. His Sitar sparkles with the rare combination of virtuosity with technical finesse and deep sense of aesthetics. His music also reflects the eternal essence of Sitar. Born in New Delhi, he has been groomed in a musical atmosphere since his birth. He has, for his father, the World Renowned Sitar Maestro, Padma Bhushan Pandit Debu Chaudhuri. Prateek has been meticulously trained and guided by his father from his childhood. He also had the great fortune to learn from his "Dada Guru" (father's Guru), Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan Sahab, the great legend of the "Senia" tradition. This leading tradition is named after the great doyen of the Indian Music Mian Tansen. Tansen is often called the father of the Indian Music and those who belong to his family as well as follow his style are called "Senia". In shaping Prateek's musical aesthetics, his mother, Dr. Manjushree Chaudhuri's influence is evident in his presentation. A votary of talent, training, education, intelligence and self-confidence, Prateek is the automatic successor to this rare "Senia" tradition of the great Indian Classical Music, having a unique individual tradition of playing Sitar not only with 17 frets, but also having an individual and unique string arrangements of its own. Academically, Prateek has excelled in each stage of his higher education. He is the recipient of the Gold Medal for his M.A. (music) and also secured first position in M. Phil. (music) examinations and Ph.D. (music) from Delhi University. At present he is not only performing but also been teaching as a Lecturer in the Faculty of Music at Delhi University. Amongst his many achievements and accolades, Prateek has been ranked as an "A" Grade artist by All India Radio and Television, Government of India.


The subject is not only a critical one but also it leaves ample scope for a critical study. But I purposely avoided the critical aspect , as this will create misunderstanding and controversy. But the process of evolution can not be avoided, hence the change in the physical and performance of instrumental is inevitable. While writing this book, I discussed the subject in details with many great masters and it is their guidance which helped me to complete this book. I am positive , many more aspects could have been included but I have tried to include all possible factors involving the subject.

I must express my deepest gratitude to the great musicians who helped me to complete this uphill task without which it would not have been easy to complete this mission. My deepest regards to Ustad Asad Ali Khan the renowned Beenkar Ustad Amjad Ali Khan the famous Sarod Maestro, Pt. Sunil Mukherjee renowned Sarode Maestro , Late Pandit Gopal Krishan ji the famous Veena player, and many other musicians who helped me with their valuable suggestions from time to time. Dr.Md.Haroon of the Faculty of Music, Delhi University helped me in collecting materials and giving valuable informations and Mrs.Chitra of the Music Department has been a great help in this publication.

I must express my deepest gratitude to Dr.Vinay Kumar Aggarwal ji, the former Dean, Faculty of Music & Fine Arts, University of Delhi who's constant help and suggestions encouraged me to complete this book. I would also like to thank Dr. (Mrs.) Krishna Bisht, Dean & Head of Faculty of Music, Delhi University and Dr. (Mrs.) Najina Praveen Ahmed without whose help and encouragement I could not have completed my work. I will be failing to my duties if I do not mention the name of my mother late Dr.(Mrs) Manjusree Chaudhuri who has always been reminding me to complete this book which I failed to do during her life time but I am positive, wherever her soul is, she will be very happy to see this being published.

Finally I would like to express my gratitude to my father, Padmabhushan Pandit Debu Chaudhuri the former Dean, Faculty of Music & Fine Arts, University of Delhi who has been always a source of inspiration and knowledge . His constant guidance and help has made it easy for me to publish it within a very short span of time. His role as my Guru has been so demandirig that I had to comply with whatever he asked me to and could not leave any stone unturned. It was he who told me not to go into any controversies as this book is in only meant to have informations on the subject which has, perhaps, never been attempted before in the pattern I have followed. I would also like to thank my other colleagues in the department of music where I am at present working for their kind help and encouragement. The role of Music is very important in the life of a human being. It is very much closely associated with the human society and life from the very beginning of creation. Music is a part of fine art. Kant sums up in his 'Critique of Judgement' that music is the highest of arts, as it plays with sensation i.e. emotion. It is an art, which is based on the audience appreciation. This appreciation of the audience has not remained static over the years. This is because all the arts related with the interest of the audience and appreciation have undergone changes over the years. Also music, being a creative art, cannot remain static.

The sign of a progressive art form is exploration of new dimensions and fields; but one should remember not to forget our basic old principles and traditions. Any such improvisation should be done keeping in mind the traditional aspects and it's form should not be distorted totally in the name of creation. Attention should also be paid to the validity of these improvisations, which are being done in the name of creativity. Indian Music is the oldest and richest musical tradition which traces back it's origin from the Vedic times. Musical instruments occupy a very important place in the realm of Indian music. Out of the different variety of instruments existing in India, chordophones, especially the plucked ones, have fascinated me quite a lot. In the 20th century, these chordophones have played a great role in popularizing our music. Most of these instruments have undergone numerous changes over the years to come to their present forms. In my study, I decided to take up those changes, which gave a new dimension not only in its physical shape but also in the performance. Special attention is given to their structure, tuning arrangements, playing technique and content being played on the instrument. I concenterated my study and work on the Modern period in India highlighting the revolutionary changes brought about in these instruments and their Baaj. I took up some instruments like Sitar, Tanpura, Veena (Rudra and Vichitra, as these were the ones prevalant in the northern half of India), Surbahar and Sarod . I also took up some other instruments like Rabab, Surshringar, Swarmandal, and Hawaiian Guitar, which were not studied in detail. I also have discussed the role played by Folk instruments like Ektara, Lao Tokari, Gopichand, Dotara, Tuntuna, Anand Lahari, Damyan, Ruwana, Chang, Tanduro, Jantar and Saitar in addition to,the popular Classical instruments and instrumental music. In my scope of study, I have concentrated on the northern India.

As I personally play Sitar, I have given main emphasis to this instrument, which I love. I belong to a Gharana of Sitar players which has been maintaining the traditional system of Sitar playing with 17 frets till date, whereas most of the players are following the style of playing Sitar with increased number of frets ranging from 19 to 23. I was very curious to know how these changes were brought about over the years, especially in relation to the Modern era from 20"' Century onwards. I was inspired by the fact that our musical forms and the instruments have gone through a revolutionary change and this could be highlighted for future generation. I am deeply indebted to my Dada Guru Sangeet Acharya Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan Sahab , who was a staunch follower of tradition, told me to work on this particular aspect, so that the discerning lovers and students of music will know how far we have deviated from our traditional forms both in physical and in performance . Thus it was my job to bring out the changes in forms and not to have a critical view.


"Music like all cultural manifestations — is the expression and mirror image of certain attitude of consciousness. Music, like all art is a seismographic manifestation of human thinking and reflects the degree and character of the consciousness peculiar to the creator or to the cultural sphere from where it springs. It reflects the thinking and feeling of the people in the historical epoch in which it is written."' It means that the history of mankind, because music is basically the expression of human sentiments of either ecstasy or agony of union or separation. Music can be said to be the sweet and soothing sounds that vibrate and create an aesthetic feeling and beauty that overcome the feelings and beauties of the nature. So music is recognized as the greatest and finest art that brings permanent peace and solace to the human world. It is a fine art and excels in many respects the arts of architecture, sculpture and painting.

The English word Music is a derivation of the French word Muse. It is also called Sangita, Gana, or Giti. The word Sangita has been defined as a combination of vocal music (Cita), instrumental music (Vadya) and dance (Nritya). The reference to the word Sangita is also found in the Ramayana (300 B.C.), Mahabharata (200 B.C.), Puranas and the Natyashastra of Bharata. In the classico-Bengali songs of Bengal, and in Padavali — Kirtana, Pada is used to denote Gana, that is the music composed of literature (Sahitya) and melody (Sur). Gana and Gitis are the combination of sweet sounds that please and soothe the sound of all the living beings; that is they originate with the succession of tones which produce agreeable and pleasing sensations. "Music that evolved in Indian soil and imbibed the spirit and atmosphere of spiritual India is known as Indian music. It possesses a synthetic vision and special character of its own and so it differs from music of other countries in its structure, temperament and method of improvisation."' Indian music is a living art. It is the dynamic power of symbolozing the divine intution of man in sweet and sound. It stimulates and the human depths and awakens a higher consciousness of man. Indian music has it's own cultural heritage and is considered to be the oldest form of music existing in the world today. The Indian culture gives us an everlasting effect, which ultimately has become the vital force of our spiritual identity. Various languages and religious artistic expositions make this a unique culture where all the branches have it's own flavour and beauty. A very important aspect of the cultural heritage of India is music. During the centuries, it has evolved and now reached a stage of advance development. One of the main and important aspects of music is instrumental music. The three constituents of music i.e. Vocal music, Instrumental Music and Dance are based on two most important constituents, which are Swara and Laya and the liberal and effective use both these constituents can be seen in instrumental music.

Musical instruments have played a predominant role in the evolution and development of Indian music. What then is a musical instrument? Broadly put, it is any structure, made by any material, used for producing sound in music. The oldest instrument in this sense is the human body itself i.e. the voice. It is referred to as the Gatra Veena; Gatra, meaning the body. Therefore all such auditory body actions like the clapping of hands, beating on the thighs and buttocks stamping on the ground, etc. are the first instruments. It is interesting to note that the hand is referred to as the Hasta Veena, when it is used as a counting adjunct to Vedic chanting. But according to usual understanding, a musical instrument is a tool other than the human body, used to produce music. "A closer thought shows that an instrument at least in the most primitive stage is but an extension of the body Just as the spanner is a mechanical device extending the operations of the hand, sticks like the Danda, and the Kolattam Kattai, clappers like Kartal and Chipla are only solid projections of the hand for augmenting the sound. Gradually, this extension of the body gets separated and becomes a musical instrument in its own right.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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