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					Chapter 13
Other Classical
Genres

     Global
  Perspectives:
  Musical Form
             Key Terms

Hindustani stream     Sitar
Karnatak (Carnatic)   Sarod
stream                Tambura
Improvisation         Tabla
Rag
Alap
Gat
       Global Perspectives 3

Musical Form
   Are elaborate musical forms the natural
   result of an emphasis on instrumental
   genres?
    • Are statement, repetition, contrast, & variation
      universal building blocks?
    • What simple processes are used in non-
      Western musical forms?
                 India

Roots of Indian classical music are 2000
years old
 • Derived from chanting of the Vedas
In the 13th century two traditions emerged
 • Hindustani music of Muslim & Hindu
   practitioners in north India
 • Carnatic music from the mainly Hindu south
Both streams share many features
 • Improvisation & rag most important
   Indian Classical Music

Centuries old with distinctive genres &
practices
Relies on professional, trained musicians
Formal performances with clear separation
between audience & performers
High level of difficulty
Rigorous training system
System of music notation
       Melody: The Rag (1)

Hundreds of rags are available
Rag similar to a scale, but much more!
• A comprehensive set of guidelines for
  producing a melody
Each rag specifies notes of a scale, and—
•   Hierarchy of more & less important notes
•   Melodic gestures associated with those notes
•   Ways of ascending & descending the scale
•   Customary patterns of ornamentation
•   Snatches of melody used for improvisation
     Melody: The Rag (2)

Rags carry broader implications as well—
• Each expresses particular emotional states
• Each is associated with a specific time of day
  or a specific season of the year
Indian musicians study for years
• To master the subtleties of technique
• To learn the “character” of rags
The best musicians master dozens of rags
• They can improvise complex, beautiful,
  appropriate melodies in any one of them
     Melody: The Rag (3)

In principle, Indian classical music is
monophonic, but…
 • Ever-present drone strings accompany melody
 • At times the melody is played simultaneously
   by two instruments, resulting in heterophony
 • There is a complex interaction between melody
   & drummer
     A Hindustani Ensemble

Typical north Indian ensemble includes—
   An instrument to play the main melody
    • Often a sitar, a long-necked “lute” with
      buzzing, resonant strings
   Often a second melody instrument
    • Here a sarod, another long-necked “lute”
      sounding lower, more guitar-like
   The tambura – a drone instrument
   Tabla – two small, hand-beaten drums
A Performance of Rag Mauj-
       Khammaj (1)
Musicians start from a tune (pakar)
 • Some rag tunes are free
 • Rag Mauj-Khammaj has a fixed melody
Around the tune, musicians spin out a
long performance in several movements
 • Movements differ in style and tempo
 • Though improvised, movements develop
   according to specific expectations
A performance can last a full hour
A Performance of Rag Mauj-
       Khammaj (2)
Skilled performers are expected to—
 • Adhere to characteristic features of the
   particular rag being performed
 • Elaborate the rag in virtuoso fashion
 • Present each movement in a gradual & skillful
   manner
Listen performance features two world-
renowned musicians
 • Ravi Shankar on sitar
 • Ali Akbar Khan on sarod
   Rag Mauj-Khammaj (1)

Alap – 1st movement of a rag performance
• A free, dreamy exploration of the rag’s melodic
  gestures – the expressive heart of a rag
• No clear meter & no drums
• Gradual rhythmic quickening, but still no meter
Gat – a contrasting 2nd movement
• Faster tempo, clear meter
• Presents fixed melody & variations on it
• Drums mark the beat & add elaborate rhythmic
  counterpoint to melody
    Rag Mauj-Khammaj (2)

Excerpt 1
•   Starts with the alap
•   Quasi-imitative interplay between sitar & sarod
•   Gradually quickening, but with no clear meter
•   Ends with beginning of first gat
•   Gat begins with sitar playing metrical melody
      The basic tune of Mauj-Khammaj
• Sarod & tabla player quickly join in
• Free improvised variations on the tune follow
   Rag Mauj-Khammaj (3)

Excerpt 2
• Begins near the end of the 1st gat
• Tempo quickens as 2nd gat begins
• 2nd gat starts with faster version of the basic
  tune (the same one that began the 1st gat)
• Improvisations especially dazzling & virtuosic
  at quick tempo –like a development
• Often intoxicating interplay between sitar,
  sarod, & tabla
• Tempo continues to accelerate through 2nd gat

				
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posted:9/1/2012
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