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Music and Musical Thought in Early India

Offering a broad perspective of the philosophy, theory, and aesthetics of early Indian music and musical ideology, this study makes a unique contribution to our knowledge of the ancient foundations of India’s musical culture. Lewis Rowell reconstructs the tunings, scales, modes, rhythms, gestures, formal patterns, and genres of Indian music from Vedic times to the thirteenth century, presenting not so much a history as a thematic analysis and interpretation of India’s magnificent musical heritage.

In Indian culture, music forms an integral part of a broad framework of ideas that includes philosophy, cosmology, religion, literature, and science. Rowell works with the known theoretical treatises and the oral tradition in an effort to place the technical details of musical practice in their full cultural context. Many quotations from the original Sanskrit appear here in English translation for the first time, and the necessary technical information is presented in terms accessible to the nonspecialist. These features, combined with Rowell’s glossary of Sanskrit terms and extensive bibliography, make Music and Musical Thought in Early India an excellent introduction for the general reader and an indispensable reference for ethnomusicologists, historical musicologists, music theorists, and Indologists.

432 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1992

Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology

Asian Studies: South Asia

Music: Ethnomusicology

Table of Contents

The Sounds of Sanskrit
About the Frontspiece
1. Introduction
1.1. Music and Musical Thought in Early India
1.2. The Divisions of Music
1.3. Microcosm and Macrocosm
1.4. Chronology and Sources
2. Thought
2.1. Introduction
2.2. Continuities of Indian Thought
2.3. Systematic Thinking
2.4. Symbolic Thinking
3. Sound
3.1. Introduction
3.2. The Divisions of Sound
3.3. The Theory of Sound
3.4. Sound: A Lexicon
3.5. Casual Sound: Nada
3.6. Akasa, the Medium of Sound
3.7 Sound and the External World
3.8. Three Ancient Conceptions of Musical Sound
4. Chant
4.1. Introduction
4.2. Samavedic Chant
4.2.1. The Role of Memory
4.2.2. Chironomy
4.2.3. Duration and Tempo
4.2.4. Dynamics
4.3. The Phonetic Treatises
4.4. Some Distinctive Features of Sanskrit and Their Musical Consequences
4.5. Narada’s Siksa and the Organization of Musical Pitch
4.6. Milieu
5. Theater
5.1. Introduction
5.2. The Natyasastra
5.3. The Preliminary Rituals
5.4. The Incidental Music
5.5 Instruments
5.6. Epilogue
6. Sastra
6.1. Introduction
6.2. Musical Scholarship
6.3. Musical Discourse
6.4. The Language of Musical Speculation
6.5. Notations
7. Pitch
7.1. Introduction
7.2. The Gamut and Its Tuning
7.3. Philosophical Arguments on Struti and Svara
7.4. The Gamut and Its Variables
7.5. Sonance
7.6. The Tanas
7.7. Melodic Choices
7.8. The Concept of Raga
8. Time
8.1. Introduction
8.2. The Idea of Time in Ancient India
8.3. Tala
8.4. Chironomy
8.5. Rhythmic Patterns
8.6. The Concept of State
8.7. Timing
8.8 The Desi Talas
8.9 The Influence of Metrics
8.10. The Rhythms of Indian Music
9. Form
9.1. Introduction
9.2. Formal Archetypes
9.2.1. The Human Body
9.2.2. Organic Growth
9.2.3. Ritual
9.2.4. Creation
9.3. Formal Components
9.4. Formal Tactics
9.4.1. Upohana
9.4.2. Upavartana
9.4.3. Prastara
9.5. Ritual Forms
9.6. Minor Forms
10. Songs
10.1. Introduction
10.2. The Prabandhas
10.3. Song Forms
10.4. A Garland of Songs
10.5. Expansion of the Genre
10.6. Cultural Mapping
10.7. The Theory and Practice of Song
11. Style
11.1. Introduction
11.2. Gender
11.3. Qualifications
11.4. Gunas and Dosas
11.5. The Qualities of Musical Sound
11.6. Style as a Composite
11.7. Levels of Ornamentation
11.8. Rasa
11.9. The Values of Indian Music
12. Afterthoughts
Glossary of Sanskrit Terms


American Musicological Society: Otto Kinkeldey Award

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