STUDENTS preparing for Degree Examinations in music of South Indian
Universities are required to acquire an outline knowledge of Western music and Staff notation. A
book treating of these topics from the
Stand-point of Indian students has been a long-felt desideratum. This book is intended to supply
that want. The fundamentals of Western music and Staff notation have been explained here in a
language and terminology familiar to Students of South Indian Music. With a Knowledge of Staff
notation, one can have access to the folk melodies of many countries and also comprehend some-
thing of the genius of western classical music. The scale of Sankarabharana which is the Major
Diatonic scale is the common property of humanity. Students of western music, will by going
through this book get to know some- thing of the basic principles of Indian music.
Students of Indian music who desire to pursue further the study of Western music may do so with
the help of standard books on the subject and with the help of competent teachers of western
All systems of music are based and developed on certain aesthetic laws, truths and phenomena which
hold good in all countries and at all times. That a note and its octave note or that a note and
its perfect fifth (panchama) when sounded together gives a pleasant impression is a truth which
holds good in all countries. The principles of consonance (samvaditva) and dissonance are the same
all the world over. While proceeding to develop the music how-ever, the builders of the system in
the East and West stuck to different principles.
‘Which successions of single notes will result in aesthetic pleasure',
was the ideal kept in view in India.
'Which successions of groups of notes (simultaneously sounded) will give aesthetic pleasure',
was the ideal kept in view in the west.
This Eka dhvani and Bahu-dhvani aspects respectively resulted in the Melodic and Harmonic systems
This reminds one of a parallel in Hindu law. Two law- givers gave two different interpretations to
the word Sapinda and this resulted in the two systems of Hindu law: Dnyabhaga and Mitakashara. One
interpreted the term, pinda as body and sapinda as one related by blood relationship. The other
interpreted pinda as oblations of rice balls and sapinda as one entitled to these offerings of
rice balls. These two view-points resulted in sons and daughters obtaining a legitimate claim over
the father's property in one case. and sons (agnatic relations) alone obtaining a legitimate claim
over the father's property in the other case.
Aesthetic pleasure is the goal in music. In the melodic system, it is achieved by successions of
single notes and in the harmonic and polyphonic systems, by successions of groups of notes or
chords, the constituent notes of a chord being sounded simultaneously. Polyphony is a case of
plural melodies, all played together and each melody having an independent interest. In polyphonic
music, the notes heard at anyone single moment need not necessarily be related as the notes of a
chord. In harmony, there is a principal melody with an accompaniment of chords. The musical
expressions adopted in the East and the West are thus two channels of one parent stream of musical
Eschewing all ideas of western harmony, Indian music; developed along pure melodic lines. The raga
system with its multiplicity of scales, delicate quarter-tones and subtle gamakas naturally
developed. Numerous rhythms also came to be used. The raga system is India's gift to the world's
It is useful for students of Indian music to know the fundamental principles on which western
music has been developed. It will widen their musical outlook and make them understand the
beauties underlying the manner in which the language of music has been wielded by geniuses in the
western hemisphere. With their knowledge of the cycles of fifths and fourths and of the principles
underlying the derivation of scales through the process of modal shift of tonic, Indian students
are in a better position to grasp the theoretical basis of Western music.
In Western music, sticking to the same scale i.e.,
Sankarabharana variety is obtained by changing into parallel and related keys in the course of a
composition. But in Indian music, sticking to the same key or adhara shadja, variety is obtained
by changing into different ragas.
When melodies are conceived in the West, they are con-ceived with a harmonic conscience i.e., how
these melodies will ultimately shine in the harmonic garb. But in India, melodies are conceived
solely with a view to the presentation of the raga bhava in all its rich colours.
Melodic music is one-dimensional and has a length alone. The gamakas however constitute a second
dimension in melodic music. But harmonic music has both length and breadth.
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