The Musician and His Art Essays on Hindustani Music by Deepak S. Raja

The Musician and His Art Essays on Hindustani Music

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The Musician and His Art Essays on Hindustani Music
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This book presents a collection of essays and lectures written by the author between 2011 and 2018. Its underlying theme - as suggested by its title - is the uniqueness of the relationship between the Hindustani musician and his art. This uniqueness is moulded by the fact that the tradition enjoins upon the performer the simultaneous role of a composer. This makes Hindustani music a three-dimensional art: contemplative, expressive and communicative. These three components serve to make Hindustani music a remarkable manifestation of continuity within change, and individuality within conformism.

Viewed from this perspective, Hindustani music is not merely north Indian art music. It is inextricably linked to a multiplicity of other musical traditions - folk, devotional, tribal, martial and popular - and is an active participant in the totality of the cultural process. Every piece of performed music speaks, in some manner, on behalf the generation performing it, and addresses the corresponding generations of audiences. For the author, therefore, it is not merely sufficient to understand what Hindustani music is. It is necessary also to seek insights into why it is what it is.

In this book, the author relentlessly pursues his intellectual aims by borrowing ideas from a wide range of disciplines: sociology, linguistics, cultural anthropology, acoustics, aesthetics, demography, economics, marketing finance, psycho-analysis, mythology, philosophy and even mathematics. Despite its diverse intellectual canvas, the book retains the essential "Indian ness" of the author's argument, and simultaneously addresses an international readership.

About the Author

Deepak Raja is amongst most influential voices in Indian musicology today. He is a recipient of the Vasantrao Deshpande Memorial Award (2013), The Gujarat Rajya Gaurav Award (2014) and the Ashok Ranade Memorial Award (2015). He is the author of four acclaimed works on Hindustani music. He is associated with Indian Archive Music Ltd. (New York) as a Repertoire Analyst. He is a trained sitar and surbahar player of the Etawah/Imdad Khan lineage. He holds a first degree in Humanities from University of Delhi, and professional qualifications from the Indian Institute of Management (Ahmedabad) and the Watford College of Technology (Hertfordshire, UK).


IT is with a deep sense of honour that I write these few words on Deepak Raja's remarkable collection of essays and lectures. Remarkable because I know of no other author or thinker on Hindustani music, at least in the English language, who engages as wide a compass and delves as profoundly into questions concerning Hindustani music as does Deepak Raja.

Consider depth. Who else has even engaged the subject of generations of teacher/performers and their musical influence through time and mapped these out as Deepak has done over a period of more than a century? He means here the periodicity of paradigm shifts as they seem to appear in this music tradition. He follows this section with a study of YouTube views of individual artists and the ghaninds they represent and charts the gharanas viewership as a ranking of aesthetic obsolescence! This example alone demonstrates the new questions he asks and the new methodologies he employs.

Another example is his article "Amplification, Recordings and Hindustani Music". It is not that aspects of this have not been considered previously. Deepak Raja's insight, however, is the first to illuminate the non-obvious but profound ramifications these new technologies have had for Hindustani music in the twentieth century. Knowledgeable readers will find his analysis of Faiyyaz Khan's and Kesarbai Kerkar's strategies for voice production in the preamplification era, for example, quite illuminating. These strategies had important musical aesthetic consequences for later artists as well.

This is all another way of saying that this collection of essays is brimming with such jewels, large and small throughout. This work is a highly valuable contribution to our knowledge of Hindustani music and adds to the significant corpus that Deepak Raja has published in his previous books.

For anyone who wants to learn many things new about Hindustani music, musicians and its unparalleled culture, this work is a signal contribution. It needs to be in the collection of anyone who has a genuine interest in Hindustani music.

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