Hindustani Music Today by Deepak S.Raja

Hindustani Music Today

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Hindustani Music Today
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Stating that Hindustani music should be rightly termed art music and not classical music the books begins by discussing the features of art music and presents an approach to appreciating Hindustani music. It provides a detailed understanding of the components of the raga experience in Hindustani of the raga experience in Hindustani music including their time theory and the role of Gharanas of the musical tradition.

It deals with genres of raga based vocal music which have been performed over the last five centuries. Dhrupad which has its moorings in devotional music khayal vocalism shaped by Sufi influences the thumree which originated as an accompaniment to the kathak dance and the tappa adapted from the songs of camel drivers in the north west frontier. It takes up the use of instruments in Hindustani music especially the Rudra Veena, Sitar, Surbahar, Sarod, Santoor, the Shehnai, Pakhawaj the Hawaiian Guitar and many others giving an account of their origin performing styles and lineages relating to them.

Throughout the emphasis is on contemporary trends in Hindustani music and its prospects in the future. It mentions the significant practitioners of Hindustani music both vocal and instrumental.

The volume will interest lovers of Indian music and also scholars who want to have a greater understanding of its traditions its contemporary appeal and trends in practice.

About the Author

Deepak Raja (b. 1948-) is amongst the most respected writers on Hindustani music today. He works as repertoire analyst for India Archie Music Ltd. (IAM), - New York, the most influential producer of Hindustani music outside India. He has been associated with the academic and publishing activities of the Sruti magazine (Chennai), ITC-Sangeet Research Academy (Calcutta), Sangeet Natak Akademi (Delhi), and the Indian Musicological Society (Baroda! Mumbai).

In 1999, he co-edited the Indian Musiwlogical Society’s publication titled Perspectives on Dhrupad. His fir t book: Hindustani Music — A Tradition in Transition, was published in 2005. His second book, Khayal Vocalicrn — Continuity Within Change, was published in 2009. In 2009, he was granted a Senior Research Fellowship by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. He also runs a respected hiog on Hindustani music: http: / /swaratala.blogspot.com.

Deepak Raja is a sitar and surhahar player of the Etawah Gharana, trained by Shri Pulin Deb Burman, and Pandit Arvind Parikh. He studies Khayal under Vidushi Dhondutai Kulkarni of the Jaipur—Atrauli Gharana. The author took an honours degree in Humanities from Delhi University, a master’s degree in Business Administration from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Advertising Administration from the Watford College of Technology in the UK. He has occupied important positions in the media industry, including Editor of Business India, and Secretary General of the Indian Newspaper


Deepak Raja is, indeed, a “Deepak” — a brilliant light — of our Gharana, As a musicologist, with profound and realistic insights into the intricate world of music, he has to his credit several thought-provoking books. As a sitar and surbahar player, he displays the style of our Gharana with authenticity and sincere capability.

This book, titled Hindustani Music Today will be of immense value to both, the initiated as well as readers with average knowledge. Deepak Bhai has truly succeeded in delving into various dimensions of art music with great insight, projecting the same through easy-to-understand language, and enabling the reader to absorb various facets of music. He has abstained from making any authoritative

conclusions leaving the reader to naturally grasp the basics of our music. The book comprises various chapters, judicially structured to follow a systematized sequence, going from the fundamentals to the final conditions through performance. I feel happy to write this short foreword for a valuable book authored by a worthy student, and wish it all the success it deserves.


This book attempts to present a panoramic view, of Hindustani art music as viewed at the dawn of the 21M century. It addresses educated readers, who may not have been introduced to Hindustani music in their early years, but have been drawn to it as mature adults. The objective is to share with them an intelligent perspective on what this music is, where it comes from, and where it might possibly be going. Resulting from this perspective, the reader may feel better equipped for future exposures to this musical tradition, and evolve his own perspective as he deepens his involvement with it.

Some of the chapters of this book are abridged, updated or re-written versions of chapters from my first book: “Hindustani music — A tradition in transition”. Several chapters have, however, been freshly written to ensure comprehensive coverage of the subject, and to satisfy the anticipated needs of my assumed readers.

This book omits discussion on some of the newer musical forms and fonriats with which Hindustani musicians have become involved over the last two decades. They are known by various names such as, East-West fusion, Sufi Music, etc. The omission is not intended to deny their significance. It simply reflects the fact that they await my systematic study. The omission may also be justified because it is the orthodox formats of presenting raga-bound music, which are still dominant on the mainstream platform.

I have attempted to keep the presentation of this book reader-friendly. For readers who wish to seek a deeper understanding of the tradition, its history and its aesthetic assumptions, I have included a bibliography. The main body of the book, however, does not contain references to the listed works. I am deeply indebted to my Guru of forty years, Pandit Arvirid Parikh, for contributing a Foreword to this book. His endorsement will, I trust, deliver my work into many more hands than my labours alone might have done. I trust this book will be as satisfying an experience for my readers as it has been for me.


  Foreword v
  Preface vii
  Acknowledgement xi
1. It is Art Music;not Classical 1
2. Vehicles of the Raga Experience 6
3. Raga Bhairav at Midnight: the Time Theory of Ragas 11
4. The Gharanas in Hindustani Music 16
5. Dhrupad: A Cultural Enigma 23
6. Khayal Vocalism: Welcome to the Xerox Gharanas 30
7. Thumree: Lost Without Kathak 36
8. The Tappa: The Camel Driver's Song 42
9. The Rudra Veena: Headed for the Museum 48
10. The Sitar: From Nowhere to Everywhere in 300 years 55
11. The Surbahar: In Search of Indian Dach 61
12. The Sarod: The Meteoric Rise 67
13. The Hawaiian Slide Guitar: Aloha Boys of Hindustani Music 73
14. The Santoor: The Musical Signature of Kashmir 79
15. The Tanpura and Swaeamandal:the Pillars and Laptops of Hindustani Vocalism 84
16. The Sarangi: Awaiting a State Funeral 90
17. The Violin: the Gift to the Carnatic Tradition to Hindustani Music 96
18. The Bansuri: A Humble Bamboo Flute in a Highbrow Avatar 104
19. The shehnai 110
20 The Pakhawaj and tabla: Everybody wants Zakir 116
21 Harmonium: Controversial, Yet Firmly Enternched 123
  Suggested readings 131
  Index 134

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