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indian music (1954)

'Indian Music' by Dr S. Srikanta Sastri

Indian music has a great and immemorial tradition, going back to the prehistoric period of the Vedas which were perhaps the earliest records of mankind to be put into a metrical form. It is therefore no wonder that the whole subsequent development of Indian music was dominated by a religious spirit, in spite of political and economic vicissitudes. Indian tradition asserts that the evolution of the musical scale can be traced through the three tones of the Rg Veda (Ni-Sa-Ri or B-C-D) and the four tones of the Yajur Veda to the penta-tonic scale in a descending order of the Sama Veda in its original form. Further developments through the six and seven tones took place in the later elaboration of the Sama scale adapted to the Indian lute or the Vina (Veene) and Indian musicology was systematised by Bharata in early centuries of the Christian era.

India is the country from which many ancient civilisations derived their music. The Sumerian “Bin” was derived from the Indian Vina. Strabo says that the Greek and Persian systems were influenced by India. The Greek musical instruments Kinyra, Kithara, Nabla and Kratala were derived from the Indian Kinnari, Chitra, Nakula and Karatala. A type of accompaniment in ancient Greece called Magadi singing was derived from the Magadhi song. The Syrians called their sacred hymns Sugita (the good song in Samkrt). The Chinese pentatonic scale and its later developments were due to the influence of Indian culture.

In Europe the Gregorian chant and polyphony were derived from the Indian system and the Guido de Arezzo adapted the method of the Sama Veda for memorising notes on the lines of fingers. Relics of polyphony are even now to be found in Java and Bali which have developed an orchestration for Indian music and dance.

Souvenir in honour of the visit to Mysore of the Soviet Cultural Delegation, February 1954 (Edited by A. N. Krishna Rao).


Some Piped Indian Musical Instruments

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