Francoise Nalini Delvoye Jane Harvey
Emmie te Nijenhuis
North Indian or Hindustani art music has a wealth of vocal genres and instrumental styles, some of them rooted in the past and others of a more recent origin. Although Indian music is primarily an oral tradition, it has a long practice of written music theory.
Through dozens of musicological treatises and other historical documents we know that changes in patronage and musical taste have had a profound effect on ragas, talas, style and repertoire.
This collection of twenty-five essays by prominent scholars provides a major overview of the history of Hindustani music from the thirteenth to the twentieth centuries, and the sources that make up this history The essays are thematically arranged into five parts (1) The Formative Period (2) The Modern Period (3) Musical Instruments (4) Indian Music and the West, and (5) Concepts and Theories.
Addressing a broad range of issues, the authors raise questions about the socio cultural and political contexts in which new musical forms and instruments arose. Much attention is given to the developments that took place in music life during the last three centuries and to the impact of the colonial encounter and nationalism when Hindustani music acquired its modern identity.
Covering eight centuries, this 736- page volume has a comprehensive introduction and extensive bibliographies. With such a variety of topics and source materials, it is invaluable for anyone interested in Hindustani music and its history.
Joep Bor a Professor at Leiden University s the founder of the World Music Academy at Rotterdam Conservatory. His publications on Indian music include The Voice of the Sarangi and The Rage Guide.
Francoise Nalini’ Delvoye, a scholar of medieval Hindi literature and Indo Persian culture, is Directeur d’études at École Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris. She edited Confluence of Cultures and co-edited The Making of lndo-Persian Culture.
Jane Harvey has been involved with Hindustani music for around thirty years as a vocal student, publications editor, teacher and organizer. She works at Codarts, Rotterdam Conservatory and is co-author of The Raga Guide.
Emmie te Nijenhuis, retired university professor of Indian musicology and member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences, is a prolific writer on Indian music. Recent publications are Sangitasiromani and Varnam.
Joep Bor: a Professor at Leiden University, is the founder of the World Music Academy at Rotterdam Conservatory. His publications on Indian music include The Voice of the Sarangi and The Raga Guide.
Francoise ‘Nalini’ Delvoye, a Scholar of medieval Hindi Literature and indo Persian culture, is Directeur d’études at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris. She edited Confluence of Cultures and co-edited The Making of indo-Persian Culture.
Emmie te Nijenhuis, retired university professor of Indian musicology and member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences, is a prolific writer on Indian music. Recent publications are Sangitasiromai and Varnam.
This volume contains the papers that were presented at a rather unique, productive and highly inspiring symposium entitled “The History of North Indian Music: Fourteenth to Twentieth Centuries”. The symposium was hosted by and held at Rotterdam Conservatory in the Netherlands from 17 to 20 December 1997. It was generously sponsored by the International Institute of Asian Studies (Leiden), and also by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (Amsterdam) the Centre d’Etudes de Iinde et de l’Asie du Sud (Paris), and the European Union. We are very grateful to these sponsors, and to Codarts (Rotterdam) for supporting this publication.
The aim of the symposium was to highlight various aspects of the medieval and modern history of north Indian music. It was decided during the symposium that the thirteenth rather than the fourteenth century should be the starting point, because it was then that Sarngadeva wrote his highly influential treatise on music, Sangirararnakara. It was also during the thirteenth century that the Delhi Sultanate was established and Delhi became one of the major political and cultural centres of the word. Here well-known scholars, writers, and artists from diverse Asian countries would meet and contribute to what is known today as Indo-Persian culture.
In order to achieve the aim of the symposium, a number of esteemed music scholars were brought together. All of them are experts in one or more areas related to the history of north Indian music, and quite a few of them are practising musicians as well. Let us emphasize that these scholars had never before gathered together in a setting where they could all benefit from each other’s know-how, and exchange thoughts and information. We thank them for responding to our invitation to assemble at the Rotterdam Conservatory, for revising their papers, and for their enormous patience, since many obstacles arose to delay this publication. We also thank Ashok Vajpeyi for his thought-provoking “off-keynote” speech.
We are happy that Katherine Butler Brown, Philippe Bruguière, Rokus de Groot, Peter Manuel and David Trasoff, who did not attend the symposium have also contributed chapters to this volume. Thanks are due to Suvarnalata Rao for helping with the format editing and Henri Tournier for processing the music examples for chapter.
In April2003 and March 2007 respectively, the very sad news reached us that our contributors Gerry Farrell and Harold Powers had passed away. The pioneering music scholar Shahab Sarmadee died too early to be pail of the symposium; all of us would have benefited from his remarkable knowledge. It was also very unfortunate that Professor Prem Lata Sharma was unable to attend because of serious health problems. Less than a year after the symposium, this versatile music scholar passed away. To many of us Prem Lata Sharma was an inspiring and patient teacher. The volume is dedicated to her, to Shahab Sarmadee, to Harold Powers, and to Gerry Farrell.
Four scholars who in very different ways were key figures in the modernization process of Hindustani music have also left an indelible mark on historical research into this music. The first one is the pioneering British Orientalist Sir William Jones (1746-94), author of the first English-language essay on Indian music, called “On the Musical Modes of the Hindus” (1792). The second is Captain N. Augustus Willard. a Eurasian who wrote the well-known Treatise on the Music of Hindustan (I 834). The third is the Bengali reformer Raja Sourindro Mohun Tagore (1840-1914) one of the most distinguished music scholars at the end of the nineteenth century, and the fourth is Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande (1860-1936) northern India’s most influential musicologist in the early twentieth century.
In 1784, soon after his arrival in India, William Jones founded the Asiatic Society of Bengal and became its president. He was a judge of the Calcutta high court, and a versatile linguist and philologist who pioneered new fields of research and wrote on a wide range of topics. His works, especially his translations of Kalidasa’s play Sakuntala and Jayadeva’s lyrical poem Gitagovinda, had a profound influence on scholars, philosophers, poets and novelists in Europe.1 Jones wrote the first version of his article on Indian music in 1784. Eight years later “On the Musical Modes of the Hindus” was published in the third volume of Asiatick Researches, the widely read transactions of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.2 It was first reprinted (“verbatim from the Calcutta edition”) in London in 1799. and many times after that.3 A German translation of it appeared as early as 1802 in Ueber die Musik Indier Indict, a richly illustrated anthology of various European writings on Indian music compiled by Friedrich Hugo von Dalberg.
Jones’ essay on Indian music is of little relevance today, but two hundred years ago, when virtually nothing was known about the music of the world, it was a landmark. While Jones appears to have had more appreciation for texts on music than the music itself, the importance of his work was that he made European music scholars aware of the antiquity of Indian music, its unique system of ragas and the microtonal divisions of the Indian scale, called shrutis. His article was referred to in music journals of the time and was the main source on India for European musicologists who began debating the origins of music in their general histories.
In the first volume of the society’s journal (1788) there appears an extract of a letter by Francis Fowke. It contains a fairly accurate description of the bin and also an illustration of the renowned bin player Jivan Shah, which was copied several times in nineteenth-century histories of music. Francis’ sister Margaret was an avid collector of Hindostannie airs, and William Jones assisted her with the translation of the lyrics. Through the Fowkes, Jones heard Jivan Shah in Benares, and this may have inspired him to write his well-known essay. Also see Ian Woodfield’s chapter in this volume, and Woodfield 2000 many of these works, even in some of the histories that appeared at the beginning of the twentieth century, Jones is cited as the foremost authority on the music of India. In India, too his essay had a huge impact, particularly his notion that Indian music is a “Hindu” art. Appropriating the view of the Brahmin pandits he consulted, Jones thought that “although the Sanskrit books have preserved the theory of their musical composition, the practice of it seems almost wholly lost.
Although William Jones was deeply interested in Indian music, he presented a one-sided picture of it. On the one hand his work led to the belief that the practice of it was on the verge of extinction. On the other hand, his glorification of India’s Hindu past stimulated extensive textual research by Indian scholars, and numerous Sanskrit musicological treatises were rediscovered.6 In his opinion a man, who knows the Hindus only from Persian books, does not know the Hindus; and an European, who follows the muddy rivulets of Muselman writers on India, instead of drinking from the pure fountain of Hindu learning, will be in perpetual danger of misleading himself and others.’
It is clear then that Jones was prejudiced and had little sympathy for Muslim scholarship. He rejected Abu’l Fazl’s A’in-i Akbari (1593), the Persian translation of the Sañgitadarpana by Ras Baras Khãn, and even Mirza Khan’s popular Tufat al-Hind (c. 1675), which he frequently quotes and was his main source of information on Indian music.8 Instead, he promoted the idea that Sanskrit treatises such as Somanatha’s Ragavibodha (1609), Dãmodara’s Sangitadarpana (c. 1625) and Narãyanadeva’s Sangitanarayana (c. 1660) were far more reliable and authentic, although these works were written in the seventeenth century!9 Many music scholars in India and the West seem to have embraced this idea, and as a result Persian texts on Indian music were largely ignored.
The second major English-language work, A Treatise on the Music of Hindoostan: Comprising a Detail of the Ancient Theory and Modern Practice by Captain N. Augustus Willard, was published in Calcutta in 1834, and dedicated to the wife of the governor-general, Lady W.C. Bentinck.1° As the subtitle indicates. Willard’s aim was to reconcile current practice with early theory and in the preface he writes: “Books alone are insufficient for this purpose—we must endeavour to procure solutions from living professors, of whom there are several, although grossly illiterate”.” As this was a time-consuming project, in his opinion “even so able and eminent an Orientalist as Sir William Jones has failed”)2 Indeed, Willard paints a far more accurate picture of the theory and practice of Hindustani music than his British precursor. His work contains outstanding descriptions of the vocal styles and musical instruments that were current at the time. It also lists the popular ragas and talas, and has an excellent glossary of “the most useful musical terms”.
Little is known about N.A. Willard, but he was probably the son of a British musician and had an Indian mother.14 As an officer in the service of the music-loving ruler of Banda. he had direct access to the master musicians who performed at the court.’5 And as “a skilful performer himself on several [Indiani instruments”, he had a thorough knowledge of the practice and knew the musicians’ jargonHt Instead of relying only on texts such as Mirza Khãn’s well- known Tuhfat al-Hind, he consulted famous performers, both Hindu and Muslim, and the music scholar Hakim Salamat Ali Khan from Benares (Varanasi). the author of a treatise called iviutala al-Hind (l8O8).’ In Willard’s words:
The only way by which perfection in this can be atta,ned is by studying the or ginal works, and consulting the best living performers, both vocal and instrumental Indeed, without the assistance of learned natives, the search would be entirely fruitless. The theory is so little discussed at present, that few even of the best performers have the least knowledge of any thing but the practical part, in which to their credit it must be acknowledged they excel.
Willard’s work is one of the first modern studies of Hindustani music theory, “noticing as much of it as is confirmed by the practice of the present day”.9 In his view, theory that is not based on practice has no meaning. Although written in English, his treatise is closely related to the large corpus of Persian texts on Hindustani music in that it borrows material from such texts and explores both theory and practice. However, as Willard emphasizes in the preface, his book was not “a translation of any of the existing treatises on music, but an original work
Captain Willard wrote his treatise at a crucial time in the history of north Indian music: dhrupad was on the decline, and khayal, tappa, and thumb had emerged as the predominant vocal genres. The “modern” sitar was “very much admired both by professional men and amateurs”, and the Pathan rabab the forerunner of today’s sarod was “very common at Rampoor”.2’ The novel tabla was used as an accompaniment to “light and trivial compositions” and “selected as the fittest counterpart with the Sarungee [sarangi] to the silver tones of the modern meretricious Hindoo dancing girl”.22 Willard heard numerous “good” instrumentalists and singers “of both sexes who, although ignorant of the theory of music, may, for extent, sweetness. pliability, and perfect command of the voice, rival some of the first-rate minstrels of Europe”.23 Yet he says that many vocalists sang “licentious poetry”, and that due to their association with courtesans: “At present most native performers of this noble science are the most immoral set of men on earth, and the term is another for all that is abominable. synonimous with that of’ the most abandoned and profligate exercises under the sun”.24 In his opinion, the deterioration of music began with the “conquest of 1-lindoostan by the Mahomedan princes.
From this time we may date the decline of all arts and sciences purely Hindoo, for the Mahomedans were to great patrons to learning, and the more bigotted of them were not only great iconoclasts, but discouragers of the learning of the country, The progress of the theory of music once arrested, its decline was speedy; although the practice, which contributed to the entertainment of the princes and nobles, continued until the time of Mohummud Shah, after whose reign history is pregnant with facts replete with dismal scenes.
Unsurprisingly, few music scholars in Europe were able to appreciate Willard’s work. None of them were acquainted with Hindustani music, and as Captain CR. Day put it in 1891, the reader had “to possess a considerable previous knowledge of the subject”.27 But to Indian scholars it was clear that Willard’s treatise was a major contribution. For this reason the wealthy Bengali patron and musicologist Raja Sir Sourindro Mohun Tagore reprinted it in 1875 (together with William Jones’ essay and other European writings) in his valuable anthology Hindu Music front Various Authors.28 This was just one of the many books in Sanskrit, Bengali and English he published at his own expense.29 With his English-language books on Indian music, which he donated to individuals and organizations all over the world, Tagore played a key role in the East-West dialogue on music. Thanks to him Victor-Charles Mahillon as well as Erich M. von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs adopted the ancient Indian classification of musical instruments into strings, winds, self-vibrating instruments, and drums.
Sourindro Mohun Tagore shared the view of William Jones, NA Willard and other nineteenth- century colonial writers that the music of India had decayed. He was an outspoken Hindu nationalist and worked all his life toward “the revival of Hindu music and its restoration to its pristine glory and purity Clearly, his desire was not only to raise the status of Hindustani music but to reclaim it as “Hindu” music. SM. Tagore may also be regarded as the first Indian music historian in that he wrote a Universal History of Music Compiled from Divers Sources(1896). This was his last important work and the first general history of music written by an Indian. Not surprisingly, in this remarkable hook Asia receives more attention than Europe.
Northern India’s most known and prolific music scholar Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande knew the works of Jones, Willard and Tagore and was influenced by their views. Like SM. Tagore, he was a staunch Hindu nationalist, and like NA. Willard he thought that the professional musicians—most of whom were Muslim—were “hopelessly illiterate and ignorant 32 Paraphrasing Willard, he noted that the rise of Muslim power in northern India marked the date of the decline of all arts and sciences purely Hindu. The conquerors, we can easily understand, were no lovers or patrons of learning. During those unsettled times the progress of the study of the science or theory of music was bound to decline and, as a matter of fact, did decline. The practice, however, continued with more or less success until the time of Mahomed Shah, one of the successors of Aurangzeb.
Indeed, Bhatkhande seriously doubted that the practice had deteriorated “by falling into the hands of the foreigners”. Although changes in taste and patronage had had a profound effect on music, he thought that it had “gained considerably from the foreign influence”.
This thought is expressed in A Short Historical Survey of the Music of Upper India. The paper Bhatkhande read on 20 March 1916 at the first all-India music conference. Held at Baroda College, it was attended by leading court musicians and music scholars.35 In his essay Bhatkhande summarizes the views he had published earlier, particularly in the first three volumes of his important Marathi work, Hindustani Sahgit Paddhati. It provides an overview of musicological treatises that he could access at the time, such as Pundarikavitthala’s Sadragacandrodaya (c. 1560-70), Somanatha’s Rdgavibodha (1609). Ahobala’s Sangitaparijdta (c.1665), Locana Kavi’s Ragatarañgini (c.l665) and Muhammad (or gulam) Reza Khan’s Usül al-Naghmat al-Asafi (c. 1793). The latter work was written in Lucknow, probably at the request of Richard Johnson.36 It inspired Bhatkhande to abandon the rãga-rãgini classification system as well as adopting the scale (that) of raga Bilaval (equivalent to the Western major scale) as “the foundation scale of our modern Hindustani music”.
Importantly, Bhatkhande rejected the authority of Bharata’s Nalyaidstra (c. AD 200), Which says absolutely nothing about rãgas and raginis, but deals with the shrutis, gramas, nurchhanas, and jatis of the ancient Hindu Music”.38 And while he saw continuities in several sixteenth- to eighteenth-Century works for Contemporary Hindustani music, about the venerated thirteenth-century treatise Sangitaratnãkara he said:
Although this work is looked upon to-day as the first and foremost of our authorities, it must be noted that its music is not clearly understood in any part of the country. This statement will, no doubt, sound somewhat paradoxical but the fact remains that there is not a single scholar in India, at present, who has been successful in solving the ragas elaborately described in Ratnakara. Nay! even the question, whether Ratnäkara is a northern or a southern authority, has yet to be satisfactorily solved.
The orthodox view of the time, that the practice and theory of Hindustani art music can directly be traced back to the ancient and medieval treatises, was thus directly challenged by Bhatkhande.
In the twentieth century, a large number of historical studies on Indian music began to appear, subsequent to the publications of Tagore and Bhatkhande. There was a surge of critical editions and English translations of important treatises, and the Sanskrit musicological tradition became widely accessible. Today, many scholars agree with Bhatkhande that the seminal Natya.ästra refers to a sophisticated performance tradition of theatre music which vanished. There was a break in the tradition sometime during the second half of the first millennium, despite the appearance of continuity which later Sanskrit writers were keen to foster.4° The ancient musical modes, forms and styles, and many of the instruments were no longer relevant to contemporary practice. However, scholars are still arguing about which aspects of medieval performance practice are alive in today’s Hindustani music, and to what extent ideas from Persian and Central Asian music were borrowed. Put in another way, what was the impact of the musical encounter that took place in Delhi and other Muslim courts in India after the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate, and later the Mughal Empire? Did the musical traditions exist side by side as John Andrew Greig has suggested, or did the encounter result in a “synthesis” of Indian and Persian art music, as Madhu Trivedi argues in this volume?4 Is Hindustani music indeed a hybrid or crossover as many writers take for granted today? If so, what hard evidence do we have that it assimilated Persian and Central Asian modes, genres, styles, and instruments?
To answer such fundamental questions we should put aside what William Jones wrote more than two centuries ago about the Muslim writers on music and explore their and other sources in addition to the Sanskrit treatises. During the past half century, musicologists have finally begun to recognize that works in Persian and Indian regional languages contain a wealth of musical detail and provide first-hand information on performers. Abdul Halim, K.C.D. Brahaspati, Shahab Sarmadee, and Françoise ‘Nalini’ Delvoye have played an important role in creating this awareness. In various books and papers these scholars have demonstrated that the Muslim authors perceived and presented north Indian music in a different way from their Hindu colleagues, and that present-day Hindustani music owes much of its depth and finesse to the musicians and composers employed at the Mughal court Historical musical instruments and the marvellous paintings and book illustrations in which they are depicted are also essential witnesses in unravelling the complex history of north Indian music43 Thanks to these varied sources we understand that in spite of a remarkable continuity many transformations have taken place in its practice and theory.
The volume begins in the thirteenth century when Sartigadeva, a physician and the royal accountant at the Yadava court of King Singhana II (r. 1210-47), completed his magisterial Sangitaaratnakara in Devagiri (today’s Daulatabad in Maharashtra), and Jayadeva’s lyrical poem Gitagovinda had spread from eastern India to other parts of the subcontinent. Expressing the passionate and divine love between Krishna and Radha, this twelfth-century musical poem had a tremendous appeal all over India; even today it is a source of inspiration to musicians and dancers, saranggadeva’s treatise synthesizes the musical doctrines expounded by his predecessors, hut also incorporates contemporary music and dance. It has extensive descriptions of contemporary ragas, talas, art songs (prabandha) and musical instruments. In notated alap melodies. Arngadeva gives fairly detailed instructions for developing a raga, indicating that alap improvisation played a central role in musical practice, as it does today.45 His encyclopaedic and authoritative text has been looked upon with awe and reverence. It circulated throughout India, became the subject of several commentaries, and was the main model for texts that appeared in the following centuries.46 It is therefore hardly surprising that the Sarñgitaratnakara is frequently quoted and referred to in this anthology.
In the thirteenth century, Delhi had become a major centre of Persian culture with the court poet-musician Amir khusrau Deblavi (1253-1325), the political theorist Ziya uddin Barani Id. 1357) and the Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya (d. 1325) as its towering figures. While the Hindu traditions of renunciation and devotion (bhakti) had prepared the way for mystical Islam, numerous Sufi orders spread over the subcontinent. Hindu devotional songs were welcomed in the Sufi gatherings as effective vehicles for mystical expression, and Sufi musicians in particular began building bridges between the Indian and Persian musical traditions and communities, creating genres and styles that were a unique blend of the two cultures and appealed to Hindus and Muslims alike.
Treatises on music such as the Sahgitopanisarsãroddhara of 1350, the illustrated ghunyatal-Munya of 1374-5, the Sañgitairomani of 1428, and the Kalanidhi (c. 1450-60) indicate that fundamental changes were taking place in the performance practice of north Indian music. Regional song traditions were gaining in importance. The tala system was changing as well, and so was the classification of ragas. During this period ragas begin to assume their modem identities, and instruments such as the Indian rabab and pakhawaj first appear on the musical scene. It is also clear that many old terms acquired new meaning and content, and that Persian court music was adapting itself to its new Indian environment.
In the first chapter of Section One, “The Formative Period”, Emmie te Nijenhuis demonstrates that for historical research into Indian music the Sanskrit treatises remain the foremost sources. Starting with the thirteenth-century San gitaratnãkara, which consists of seven chapters and covers both ancient and medieval music, she gives a brief survey of the main musicological texts in Sanskrit up to the nineteenth century.49 Nijenhuis argues that in spite of the somewhat artificial continuity of concepts and terms, these treatises contain very valuable historical material on the development of the tone system, musical temperament, classification of melodic types, musical time and metre, current types of compositions and styles of performance, as well as the structure and playing techniques of musical instruments.
In the second part of this chapter, Françoise ‘Nalini’ Delvoye demonstrates that there is a growing awareness that other textual sources must complete the picture.5° She provides an overview of the Indo-Persian literature on music, Written by authors of Iranian. Central Asian and Indian descent, the Persian texts were either modelled on earlier Sanskrit musicological treatises or of a poetic nature, such as the works of Amir Kliusrau (1253-1325). Often these works refer to both Persian and Indian art music, and sometimes to folk and popular forms of music as well. In addition to fairly authentic treatises such as the Cftunyat al-Alunya (1374-5) and Rag Darpar’ (1665-6) there are Persian translations of major Sanskrit texts. Delvoye emphasizes that the Indo-Persian authors did not merely translate the Sanskrit treatises into Persian; they added valuable comments and observations, and sometimes questioned the relevance of the traditional music-theoretical concepts of their Sanskrit precursors. Thus it is clear that Muslim scholars perceived and presented Indian music in a different way from their Hindu colleagues, Paying ample attention to early music theory. current practice, and oral history, their works contain valuable information on performers, both male and female, the social status of musicians’ communities, and etiquette.
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