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Article: "Srutis and Srutibheda" by Dr. K. Varadarangan

By Haresh Bakshi
  A review for "the rest of us" by Haresh Bakshi

This is a 162-page original research work on microtones and modal shift of tonic in Indian music (both North and South Indian) by the vocalist-researcher-scientist Vidwan Dr. Varadarangan Krishna Iyengar. Using mathematical approach to interpret the 22-sruti system discussed in the traditional music literature in Sanskrit. Written in a very simple and lucid style, the book gives insight into the founding principles on which the Indian 22-sruti system is based. Further, it thoroughly deals with the hitherto insufficiently attended subject of the modal shift of tonic.

This work comprises eight chapters. The first chapter deals with some of the more important of the vast number of technical terms used in Indian music: nada, swara, sruti, adhaara shadja, sthayi, swara-sthaanas, janaka ragas, janya ragas, gamakas etc. The second chapter deals with the concept of the modal shift of tonic. This includes the cyclic sets of the modal shift of tonic. The third chapter treats of the fundamental properties of srutis. It starts with the cycles of the fifths and the fourths, and goes on to analytical derivation of twenty two srutis. It ends with the treatment of vadi, samvadi, anuvadi and vivadi notes.

In the application of the modal shift of tonic, chapter 4 treats of janaka ragas, while chapter 5, with swaras. In chapter 6, the topic of the ragas with their notes strictly arranged in ascending and descending orders, is dealt with, and the numbering system of these 726 ragas has been elucidated. Chapter 7 demonstrates the possibilities of application of the modal shift of tonic to these 726 ragas. The last chapter deals with the sequential performance of the different ragas arising from the modal shift of the tonic of a given raga.

The subject matter of the book has been amply supported with a large number of tables and elaborate appendices. This excellent feature makes the revision of the subject matter quick and easy.

The book "Srutis and Srutibheda" is highly recommended for all lovers and performers of South Indian and North Indian music. The work is mathematical but highly readable, very simple, yet exhaustive. 2003/11/16



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