The Hindi book of Thakur Jaidev Singh on the history of Indian music was published in November ’94. This volume in English on the same subject is not only not a translation of the Hindi work but has also a different format and content. The
manuscript left by the author bears the title “Indian Music”We have kept it unchanged although the content could justify the title “A History of Indian Music”.
The present volume consists of six chapters and an Introduction of ten pages. The Introduction, however, does not shed any light on the scheme of the work nor on the idea of history.It is possible that the author might have planned to write a preface for this purpose but was unable to do so. The present Introduction is in the form of a general essay on the definition of svara, the three qualities of musical sound-pitch, loudness and timbre-and the names of buddha and vikrta svaras in
Hindustani and Carnatic usage, as well as the names of Western notes. It concludes with a plea for the adoption of
Hindustani svara-names in Carnatic music.The first five chapters cover only 105 pages and the major bulk of the work is formed by the last chapter which con-
tains biographical accounts of 370 authors, composers and musicians of the 9th to 20th centuries. The first chapter bears the title, ‘Indus Civilization and the Vedic Period.’ Though the author has referred to the controversy as to whether the Indus civilization precedes or succeeds the Vedic one, he refrains
from taking sides. Remains of the Indus civilization related to music and dance and the characteristics of musical pitch in Vedic recitation are described briefly. Musical instruments like vāna, dundubhi (drum), nādi, tunava and sankha (wind instruments) are mentioned and there is a brief discussion regarding the similarity of the Vedic vāna to the Egyptian been or beent.References are also made to some terms of the music of Sāmaveda concerning the parts of a sāman song beginning with prastāva and ending with nidhana and the modifications that
go with the text. There is a brief description of the notation of
Sāma music. Use of expressions like Vedic period, Prātiśākhya period, Śikṣā period, bear the resonance of a linear approach to history and this cannot be said to be beyond question because the Indian situation does not lend itself to this approach.The description of Sāmavedic notation is followed by the
paraphrase of some portions of Nāradiya Siksā.
A question has generally been raised whether the ancient Indian music was in any way influenced by the ancient Great
music.There is some similarity between some of the mūrchanas of Bharata and some of the Greek scales like Dorian, Lydian etc, but there was a fundamental difference in the concept of these scales. Bharata’s mūrchanās were simply scales; they were not singable. They simply provided a certain framework of notes for jātis which were singable. The Greek scales were,however, singable.Mr. Fox Strangways, a great authority on Western music visited India and studied Indian music also. Since he knew both the systems, his verdict on this question is perfectly reliable. He says categorically “Indian Music is entirely independent of ancient Greece and modern Europe” (The Legacy of India, p. 325:Oxford University Press).F. Pococke in his “India in Greece”, has by a gigantic mass of historical facts, and incontrovertible geographical and
philological evidence proved that in ancient times, Indians had gone to Greece and formed colonies in the land.
The famous historian, Sisir Kumar Mitra, in an article contributed to the Hindustan Times in its issue of No. 17, 1963
under the caption “Westward Diffusion of Indian Ideas”.
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