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Book Review

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Science of music


An authoritative handbook on the fundamentals of Carnatic music with an accompanying compact disc

ESSENTIALS OF MUSICOLOGY IN SOUTH INDIAN MUSIC: S.R. Janakiraman; The Indian Music Publishing House, 23 A Sripuram Ist Street, Royapettah, Chennai-600014. Rs. 460.

The author is too well known in Carnatic music circles and it would be superfluous to make a mention of his training under stalwarts and his achievements. For many who have been deriving pleasure from merely listening to Carnatic music without knowing about the basic theory on which the science of this classical form of South Indian music is built, this publication would take them on a meaningful journey to savour the depths of Carnatic music to a good degree. Starting wit h the fundamentals of South Indian music there are chapters devoted to Ragas and their classification into Janya and Janaka ragas, Shrutis, role of Gamakas, musical compositions and Talas.


Interesting information like that the basic exercise of Alankarams, have a name for each of the seven would be a revelation to many music practitioners. It is very rightly pointed out in the chapter on Ragas that certain melodies like Anandabhairavi, Ritigaula and Atana stand on their own merit and not with reference to the Janaka-Janya theory. The author also questions the general belief of Janaka and Mela ragas meaning the same. Convincing explanation is given by him on his views in this connection. While dealing with the Swarasthanas mention has been made that the current “Prati Madyama” used to be earlier referred to only as Varali Madyama. This might not be known to many. Lucid explanation has been given on what differentiates a kirthana from a kriti with a number of examples in the chapter on musical compositions.

Easy to follow

Other authentic and interesting information on Pallavis, Anuloma and Pratiloma are featured in a language style which registers easily with the reader. Towards the end of the book details of the various melas as mentioned by luminaries like Vidyaranya, Lochanakavi, Ramamatya, Somanatha, Venkatamakhi and Tulaja I are aptly detailed. A compact disc accompanies the book where the author vocalises his views and thoughts on South Indian music. Beginning with a verse from the Sangita Ratnakara of Sarangadeva, interesting information on sound and noise, sruthis, and swaras are dealt with in a precise manner. Each chapter in this book is a veritable treasure trove of information which should be read by all with a serious interest in South Indian music.

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