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Journey of Violin From West to East

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Journey of Violin From West to East
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Item Code: NAL570
Author: Dr. Pushpa Satyasheil
Publisher: Kanishka Publishers
Language: English
Edition: 2013
ISBN: 9788184574524
Pages: 293 (150 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch
weight of the book: 425 gms
About the Book

This is my first book with a view to make the information available to students and music lovers on Violin. The main emphasis of my work has been to study and analyze critically the evolution and development of Violin family with a special reference as to how Violin has travelled from Europen to Indian hands. Violin is not an indigenous instrument, it has been imported from West and accepted “as it is” in its actual shape, size and design. Certain changes had to be made as regards fingering technique, tuning system and holding position. Violin has been able to make a special in Indian classical music because of its inherent good qualities especially for the fact that it can reproduce human voice with total exactness. Violin was accepted first by Carnatic music and then by Hindustani classical music and then by Hindustani classical music. Violin is one of the few instruments where both Gatkari and Gayaki style can be played with utmost proficiency. Within a small period of two hundred years it has established itself as (a) a solo instrument (b) as an accompanying instrument and (c) as an instrument for vadya vrinda. I hope my work will be of some help for those who have a keen interest in this instrument, Violin


About the Author

Dr.Ms.Pushpa Satyasheil did her Post Graduation from Delhi School of Economics, in the year 1962 and alongside completed her graduation in dance in 1960 and Violin in 1965 from Indira Kala Sangeet Vishwavidyalaya Khairagarh. She joined Faculty of Music and Fine Arts in the year 2000, to specialize in instrumental music with Violin as her subject for Post graduation. After finishing M. Phil under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Anupam Mahajan. She completed her Ph. D in 2005 from Faculty of Music and Fine Arts, University of Delhi, Delhi.



Indian classical instrumental music has been going through a revolutionary change for the last two centuries. It importance and becoming more popular. There are cultural amalgamations and world wide travel over the last century, as a result of which we see that different varieties of instruments from other musical traditions are being added to the existing instruments in Indian classical music. Violin is one such instrument.

When Pushpa Satyasheil joined faculty as a violin student I had hopes from her that she would definitely do something worthwhile. She did prove herself by doing Ph. D on the subject, “A Critical Study of the Origin and Development of the Violin Family with Special Reference to Violin in Hindustani Classical Music.”

The topic she selected was quite untouched and required quite a lot of historical data to be collected but with her dedication and seriousness she could achieve the aim.

Violin was introduced to Hindustani Classical Music after it had established itself in Carnatic Music. But the forms and style in Carnatic music are absolutely different than Hindustani Classical Music.

This study is pioneer in analyzing the causes for violin to be adapted as one of the important string instrument in Hindustani Classical Music where it is presenting both Gayaki and Tantrakari Angas. This study is essentially based on the first time data collected from primary sources thus enhancing its value. Besides, this research also throws light on the journey that was taken by this instrument from in its viola family to be suitable and adaptable to the technical requirements for Hindustani Classical Music.

The present book entitled “A Journey of Violin form West to East” is the book version of her doctoral thesis referred above. I am sure this book will add to the existing knowledge on instruments like violin and I hope it is going to fulfil the needs of many students. It makes me very happy to write this foreword for Dr. Pushpa Satyaheil. I wish her success and I am hopeful that she continues her endeavour with zeal in this field.



Music is a process of deep emotions and thoughts expressed in many forms. Over the vast spell of time it has taken many shapes, in the form of folk music, film music and classical music. Sangeet has been a subject of deep study from time immemorial, since it has deep rooted relations with human life, human culture, and it has development with the evolution of mankind Snageet as an amalgamation of vocal music, instrumental music and dance not only fills the vaccum in man’s life but it acts as a means to a more peaceful, satisfying, devoted and transcendental life.

Instrumental music today is gaining more and more importance and becoming more popular amongst music loving people. It has a long history of evolution in each country, related to religion, culture, and economic circumstances. India has a rich heritage in this context. We presently have a long list of various instruments from old times, taking different shapes and designs from time to time. This list not only includes the indigenous ones but some of those which took new because of the amalgamation of different cultures as a result of foreign invasions, and a few others which were adopted in their ‘As It Is’ form. Violin belongs to this last category.

My present work is a presentation of my doctoral thesis “A Critical Study of the Origin and Development of the Violin Family with Special Reference to Violin in Hindustani Classical Music” and I am feeling very happy and delighted to present it in the book form which will enlighten the historical evolution and development of Violin and family, its role in Indian music, and its adoption as a worthy instrument in the list of musical instruments.

I am most obliged and grateful to Prof. Smt Anupam Mahajan for her guidance and constant supervision without which I could not have completed my present task. I am thankful to Dr. Rajam, who has always inspired me with her pleasing personality and devotion for music and who has always lende a helping hand wherever and whenever I needed. Dr Bangari and Smt. Prem Sharma of Sangeet Natak Academy as also its staff assisted in many ways that proved most helpful in course of my work. They were extremely kind and courteous during frequent visits to the library.

Violin family belongs to the most important category of instruments ‘chordophones’ played with bow. It emerged almost at the same time around the earlier part of 16th century and lived side by side with the viols in rivalry till the latter were ousted by the first. The viol family was only superficially similar to the violin family, unrelated in construction, the latter being the brighter one, and having the potential for fast and more accurate playing, suited more for the newer requirements of music.

Violin though is the smallest member of its family but is most popular, has emerged as an instrument which has multiple uses and created a space for itself, and has earned the honours of being a very respectable instrument because of its inherent qualities. Violin gradually not only made certain instruments like the rebec and lira da bracio obsolete, but there was a tuough competition between violin and viola though both belong to the same family. Eighteenth century saw only technical developments in this instrument but a near revolution was brought about by the introduction of Tourte bow in the year 1785. By now violin had been established as the ‘King of instruments’.

Chapter one is dedicated to the importance of Musical instruments, their various forms and different types of categorisation.

Chapter two deals with the historical evolution of violin which took place in Europe in early 16th century. Violin is the most popular and most frequently used member of its family. Violin is not complete without bow. The present shape of bow is a near revolution in the academic history of evolution of violin.

Chapter three illustrates the various members of Violin and Viol families. Bothe families existed side by side with a competitive spirit till Violin which was not a part of the Chamber music started commanding a senior and respectable position all over Europe. The usage of violin as a superior instrument was a quiter revolution which ousted the viol family from the chamber music.

Chapter fourth deals with the structure of violin and the leading manufacturers of violin in Europe who have been the major factor in the contribution of evolution of violin. They were not only manufacturers but they were designers and artists themselves who would play music and meet often enough to discuss the designing of the instrument.

Chapter fifth enlightens the fact as to how, when and why Violin became a part of Hindustani classical music. It was more than two hundred and fifty years ago that violin stepped in South India through band music and then the doors of classical music were opened for this instrument because of its inherent qualities. Almost hundred and fifty years later it came to North India and since then it has been added to the list of musical instruments in India.

The last Chapter explains the usage of violin in Indian Music and how beautifully it has entered and engulfed the vast field of classical music. The important role which violin and our violinists play in Hindustani classical music is enlightened. It also gives a few life sketches of the great exponents of violin in South as well as North India.

Though I have taken all precautions to give the original ideas of several learned scholars and theoriticians but in case of any negligience I apologise for that.

It is time for me to thank all those who inspired and guided me to select violin as my subject of learning. I am deeply indebted to the core of my heart towards all my Gurus, my family members, my relatives, and my friends who helped me in my endeavour from the very beginning to the end.




  Preface vii
1 A Short Survey of Musical Instruments 1
2 Origin of Violin and Evolution of Bow 15
3 Historical Survey of Violin Family and Viol Family 78
4 Violin Structure and Leading Manufacturers of Violin 134
5 Violin in India and its Usage in Hindustani Classical Music 177
6 Role of Violin and Violinists in Current Music 220
  Notations 243
  Bibliography 264
  Glossary 268
  Index 276

Sample Pages

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