Northern Indian Hindustani Music

Topics: Music, Carnatic music / Pages: 6 (1403 words) / Published: Jul 18th, 2013
Jonathan Neuman
Historic Traditions 3: World Music
Final Presentation / Paper
Northern Indian Hindustani Music

The musical tradition of Northern Indian Hindustani music is built on different conceptions of musical components than our traditional Western music. Notation of this music is a relatively new endeavor, starting in the 1900’s. Previously the music culture was a tradition passed down orally from a guru or a shishya. The notation of the music today is known a relatively non-standardized process with more emphasis on interval relations than on actual pitches. For example there is no concept of a “440 A” within traditional Hindustani music, rather, they rely on thaats.

These thaats are similar to the notion of scales, with different thaats containing different intervals not unlike our major, minor, and subsequent key signatures. In total up to ten different thaats are identified in Northern Indian Hindustani music. Another shared element is the typical use of seven scale degrees, called swara, and the repetition of the octave. In this way the thaats can be compared to the Do, Re, Mi, process associated with solfege notation. This is perhaps the best analogy for understanding the fundamentals of Hindustani music from a western perspective. Each of the scale degrees has a name as follows (in ascending order); Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni, and then the repetition of Sa. The fifth scale degree, Pa, is typically held in a standard position much like the dominant in solfege, with the other notes being mutable in either sharp or flat variations (tivra and komal respectively). The extent of these variations is however less typical than the half tone steps in Western music and often are microtonal variations in either direction, to that effect there are twenty-two recognized pitches within one octave, all of which may be generated by sharping or flatting one of the seven base notes. As Western music tradition recognized the different

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