Why ICM excluded harmony from its musical system ?

22 views
Skip to first unread message

Paulo

unread,
Jan 18, 2006, 4:13:34 AM1/18/06
to
I know very little of ICM, but I can see that it has systematized
melody and rhythm to such a painstakingly detailed, sophisticated,
subtle, elegant level, miles and miles ahead of anything that western
tradition has attempted. ICM also systematized other parameters, such
as the psychodynamic effect of music, that western traditions very
grossly ignore, which is such a shame. It puzzles me that ICM doesn't
seem to have bothered to systematized harmony, which is the cornerstone
of western musical tradition; western musical history hinges on this
parameter.

I'm deeply curious to understand why ICM has excluded harmony from its
musical system. Would anybody know of any hypothesis for this ?

Paulo

Atul

unread,
Jan 18, 2006, 6:09:38 AM1/18/06
to
My hypothesis is that ICM is mostly and individualistic art. As in, it
is learnt, practiced, and performed individually. Wheras harmonies can
be best synthesised within group art.

Secondly, harmonies are seen in ICM in case of group-singing/playing or
samooha-gaan, which is hardly practised.

-- Atul

billybhai

unread,
Jan 18, 2006, 9:28:03 AM1/18/06
to

You're interpreting 'Harmony' from a western musical standpoint.
Each Thaat, every Raag within that particular Thaat, and (hopefully)
every performance is a logically systemetized and harmonius construct
in and of itself. There is no need for additional "Harmony'' - in
fact, two or more 'harmonies' would cancel each other out, or create
dis-harmony. This is the basis for what I believe you mean by the
"psychodynamic" effect of ICM music".
For an excellent study of western misinterpretation of Indian culture
and philosophy see Amartya Sen's recently published book
"TheArgumentative Indian".

WR

billybhai

unread,
Jan 18, 2006, 9:53:42 AM1/18/06
to
p.s. The question you need to ask is why the harmonies of Western
Classical music are so un-systemetized?

Town Crier

unread,
Jan 18, 2006, 10:52:54 PM1/18/06
to

Paulo wrote:
>
> I'm deeply curious to understand why ICM has excluded harmony from its
> musical system. Would anybody know of any hypothesis for this ?

Apparently European art music is unique in the amount of importance it
gives to harmony and polyphony. (ref:
http://www.teach12.com/store/course.asp?id=700&d=How+to+Listen+to+and+Understand+Great+Music&pc=Fine%20Arts%20and%20Music)

My take on why polyphony became central to European music is that they
built such huge churches during renaissance that all comers had to be
admitted into choruses in order to make a loud enough sound to fill
those churches. Naturally, any one pitch was too high for some and too
low for others. YMMV.

DG

John Wright

unread,
Jan 19, 2006, 12:43:01 AM1/19/06
to
"Paulo" wrote

> I'm deeply curious to understand why ICM has excluded harmony from its
> musical system. Would anybody know of any hypothesis for this ?

ICM - in both its northern (Hindustani) and southern (Carnatic) forms - is
highly extemporised, creating new interesting melodic patterns on the spot
every time, within interesting rhythmic (laya) patterns. The ragas performed
have a certain development aspect (badhat) that emerges as a result of the
performer's unique and deep intellectual understanding of the raga and
his/her presentation style - and would not gel very well with another or
other performers. Collaboration is nearly impossible when two or more
performers have to establish a single image of what they are thinking.
Imagine a chess game where instead of one you have two grandmasters on each
side, alternatively making their moves when it is their side's turn; one
would not read what the other partner is strategising, and the resulting
quality of the game could not be as good as with just one grandmaster on
each side. A music system based on harmony cannot easily accommodate the
degree of extemporised musical development that is the very basis of ICM.
The ICM duets and jugalbandis also do not use harmony; each performer
performs alone at any point in time - except perhaps on a few points of
set-phrases.

ICM is also highly introspective and meditative; too many performers would
muddy the overall emotional experience.

Regards - JW

naya...@gmail.com

unread,
Jan 19, 2006, 5:35:19 AM1/19/06
to
I believe the main reason is that there are glides and microtones in
Indian classical music. Using chords in western music is possible
because the
performer sings/plays within the chord. The chord can change during
the song,
but it is still in discrete intervals. To do this in ICM would require
a dynamic
change in the chord that the song is played in, which is extremely
difficult.
Chord theory for discrete intervals is complicated enough, from what I
understand.

Kumar

Paulo

unread,
Jan 19, 2006, 7:06:42 AM1/19/06
to
First of all, let me thank you all for generously sharing your
hypothesis and
knowledge with me. I'd also like to assure you all that my intent can't
be
farther away from criticizing ICM. I've always been enamoured of it and
lately
I can say that I've fallen madly in love with it. And, when you fall in
love
with something, you want to know it better. Being born in Brazil,
growing up
listening to Brazilian music, classical music and jazz, I immediately
got
curious about this puzzling absence of harmony in ICM.

Let me summarize the hypothesis so far, and try to move forward with
the
discussion. Please correct me if I misinterpreted any of the
hypothesis.

- ICM is inherently an individualistic art
- The West gives excessive importance to harmony/polyphony, possibly
because,
since the Renaissance, the churches had to be "filled up" as much as
possible
- The whole Raag system is sufficiently systematized in a very
rigorous,
logical and harmonious way, so harmony becomes unnecessary
- ICM focuses on improvising creative melodic patterns with equally
creative
rhythmic patterns
- ICM is characteristically introspective and meditative, so too many
people
playing at the same time would break this atmosphere

Each one of these points make all the sense to me, but I still feel
that they
doesn't explain. I've been lately fascinated with a jazz pianist named
Lennie
Tristano. I'm not a jazz scholar, but, as far as I can see, all jazz up
to
Tristano gradually built up and enhanced the vertical (harmonic)
dimension of
music. Tristano steps in and shifts the focus to the horizontal
(melodic &
rhythmic) dimension of jazz. The harmony is there, but the workhorse
that pulls
his music is linear, horizontal. I don't know enough of Western
classical
music, but I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't also alternating
cycles of
emphasis. The way I feel about these cycles is: you push one dimension
to its
extreme, and then fall back on its opposite, and then again, ad
aeternum. The
only concrete example I can think of in Western music is the shift from
melody
to harmony which happened in the arch that links the medieval period
and the
baroque period, but I can't see the return of the horizontal dimension,
as I
could see in jazz, in Tristano. But then again, this may be due to my
lack of
more detailed and extensive knowledge.

It puzzles me and fascinates me that ICM was born and remained
essentially
horizontal, elaborating this horizontal dimensions to sublime levels of
beauty,
elegance, structural logic and, I consider this the greatest
achievement of ICM
which the West has never and never will even get near, an acute
awareness of
the power of sound, of the relationship of sound to the body/mind/soul.
ICM
music implies a holistic view of sound and its place in the universe.
ICM looks
at the forest. Western music gets lost looking at a single tree.

I'm really interested in expanding this discussion. I'm not here trying
to
prove anything, the usual rubbish "this is better than that". That's a
sterile
discussion. I'd like to learn to appreciate ICM more deeply, by looking
at its
structural roots.

Paulo

Paulo

unread,
Jan 19, 2006, 7:14:42 AM1/19/06
to

Kumar,

I had just posted a long reply to all posts I had seen and came to see
your reply just now. Please accept my apologies: I didn't ignore your
post, much on the contrary.

Your hypothesis smells really good. I like it. I can relate to it. It
resonates.I write this and then I think, and please tell if you think
my doubt makes sense: ICM doesn't use chords because its
glides/microtones would make chord progression abnormally complicated,
or ICM adopted, systematized glides/microtones because it rejected
chord progressions from the start ? It's a tough question and perhaps
unanswerable question. It's the classic "who came first, the egg or the
chicken ?". But I feel that it's a valid question. In essence, it's
like asking: which element was established first, and ruled out the
other.

But I still think your point can lead us in a very interesting
direction in this discussion.

Paulo

Orlando Enrique Fiol

unread,
Jan 19, 2006, 4:59:15 PM1/19/06
to
Paulo and others, it might be helpful to consider that ICM indeed has
something approaching multiple sonorities in the sense that the taanpura
is providing the tonic and fifth, tonic and fourth or sometimes tonic
and seventh of the raag, against which the raag's individual notes are
sounded or sung. In the case of stringed instruments, the playing and
sympathetic strings provide other notes to the one being sounded. In
the case of vocal music, the echoing instrument, beit sarangi, violin or
the evil harmonium, is not playing in unison with the singer and is thus
providing a sort of cannon ad libitum. Further, the tabla and bayan or
dayan and bayan sides of pakhawaj are providing other pitches, the bayan
for tabla being capable of meend and ghamaka. So, in the overall sound
scheme of ICM, one definitely hears multiple pitches being sounded at
any given time. What is lacking is a sense of chord progressions.

Orlando

Orlando Enrique Fiol

unread,
Jan 19, 2006, 8:05:49 PM1/19/06
to

You might mean that when notes serve different functions in different
chords, their pitches must be adjusted. Western music has accommodated
this tendency by proliferating equal temperament, in which case no
chords are actually composed of pure intervals, intervals that are so
important to ICM. On the other hand, many dreaded harmoniums are tuned
in equal temperament so that they can be played in any key. Ironically,
when INdians speak of tempered harmoniums, they mean that the
instruments have been tuned to contain pure intervals in one key, like
just intonation in the West. This is confusing because, for a Western
musician, a tempered interval is tuned sharper or flatter than a pure
interval so that it can blend in with other pitches in harmonic
settings.

Orlando

Orlando Enrique Fiol

unread,
Jan 19, 2006, 8:06:40 PM1/19/06
to
Paulo, there is no doubt that ICM has always developed around melodic
precision to the exclusion of harmony. For instance, when sympathetic
strings on a sitar, sarod or sarangi are tuned, they are tuned
melodically according to the sharaj, rather than tuned to one another in
intervalic schemes.

Orlando

bonny...@hotmail.com

unread,
Jan 20, 2006, 2:39:07 AM1/20/06
to
Hi Paulo

>Being born in Brazil, growing up listening to Brazilian music,

Since you are from Brazil , just check the work done by
Madhup Mudgal great ICM singer from New Delhi, India

Music - Samvad - India Meets Brazil- Madhup Mudgal - Live In Concert.

http://www.khazana.com/et/products/product.asp?sku=INMU8323&Region=&Country=India&Department=Music&Sub%5FDept=&Next=0&Artist=Madhup+Mudgal&new%5Ftarget=%2Fet%2Fproducts%2Fproduct%5Fby%5Fartist%2Easp&mscsstcid=&mscssid=PXFREXAMNLJM9J35NU4G9XX1W6490B66

Thanks
J.P. Singh

barend

unread,
Jan 20, 2006, 4:57:49 AM1/20/06
to

Ragarding this topic. although maybe a different discussion.....

What is your opninion on the trend that some sitar or sarod players
play little chords on their instruments sometimes......they are not
really chords but they play two strings together (double stops) or 2 or
more strings after each other (like on a guitar) forming some kind of
harmony......even Nikhil banerjee is using this sometimes....but it is
a trend that is quit recent....maybe because of some western influence
on indian classical music?

naya...@gmail.com

unread,
Jan 21, 2006, 8:48:03 PM1/21/06
to
Hi Orlando,

I don't fully understand what you are saying, and I do not understand
western musical theory very much, so let me try to elaborate on what I
am saying and see if you agree with me.

In whatever western music I have listened to, the notes that are sung/
played in the melodic line are pure notes, meaning notes which don't
waver a whole lot. This is necessary if the notes have to sound
consonant
with the chord that is being simultaneously at that time. This is true
even
of stuff like blues and jazz, which allow the notes to "bend" somewhat.
(All I understand from those is that there are a lot more chord
progressions
available there.) From what little I can make of it,
it is because even in those musics, there are these discrete "resting
points,"
the discrete notes of, say, the piano, on which the melody mainly
moves.
The fact that you can play jazz on the piano is itself evidence of
this. You
CANNOT play ICM on a piano or any equivalent instrument with fixed
notes
... you can do an approximation to it, as is
done with a harmonium, but that is a very poor approximation because
ICM
is primarily a continuous music. I don't know if this has anything to
do with
the comparison between equal temperament versus just intonation which,
as I understand it, refers to fixed intervals between notes and
intervals between
notes that are not constant in a raga, and also change from raga to
raga.
If I understand your post correctly, you
are suggesting that because the notes have different positions in
different
ragas, you would have a difficult time setting chords for them. I am
saying
that even if you operate with a fixed raga, you could not tune your
piano
to be consonant with that raga (even given unlimited leeway, so, say,
an
electronic piano where you could change the pitches of individual
keys.)
And I am saying this because the notes in ICM have such heavy
vibratos that no discrete set of chords can adequately be consonant
with the melodic line ... the chord would also have to move
dynamically;
in other words, an infinite series of chord progressions, just like an
infinite
possibility of microtones. If you look carefully at ICM scales, there
will be
notation that tells you that something is, say, a komal rishabh,
BUT,
A. the definition of the komal rishabh is different in different ragas,

but this is not the deal-breaker (after all, in this gedanken, we have
a
piano in which we can tune each key to arbitrary precision), it is
B. even within a given raga, the komal rishabh does not necessarily
have a fixed definition...it is somewhere in the vicinity of a general
idea of
a komal rishabh for that raga, and
C. how are you going to come up with something consonant when a note
is continuously moving between the komal rishabh and the gandhar above
it?
There is no fixed point to construct a harmony from. You can ignore
the wavering
if it is a brief excursion and if you are then going to come back to a
resting point,
but if the melody is going to be dominated by such vibratos (e.g.,
taans), any
chord you play is going to sound dissonant. Now dissonance is okay in
western
music, but it is a planned dissonance. Otherwise we would simply have
noise.
I do think that if you assigned fixed pitches to a raga, so that there
were no
gamakas in the raga, you could program our idealized piano to represent

those notes correctly, and come up with harmonies (albeit complicated,
because western music has not considered these strange notes), but for
the dynamic scales that are present in ICM, IMO, nothing short of a
dynamic
chord progression will suffice for harmony.

And if Hindustani music presents such difficulties, wait till you get
to Carnatic
music, where the vibratos are even more complex. Try coming up with a
chord
progression to "vAtApi gaNapatim bhajEham."

Kumar

naya...@gmail.com

unread,
Jan 21, 2006, 9:16:37 PM1/21/06
to
Paulo,

I think (now obviously this is purely speculation; I have no
historical evidence) that it must have been this way:
>From all that we can see today, ICM is an individualistic art,
so a single person can do the performance by himself, with no
accompanists at all, if necessary. This suggests that the tradition
developed in a fashion where individuals displayed their abilities
by coming up with more and more complex melodic patterns.
Once you go along that route, going for the vertical dimension
becomes more and more challenging. I doubt that this was
considered at the very beginning and someone thought, okay,
shall we go the melodic or the harmonic route? we vote melodic.
I do think that the concept of harmony came to the attention of
Indian musicians as their contact with westerners developed, but
by this time the music was so ornate melodically that to try to fit
harmony into this must have seemed impossible. It is simply a
question of chance ... ICM happened to evolve this way, and you
cannot both evolve to this extent melodically AND harmonically.
I don't think it is a zero sum game, though...someone will figure it
out someday. And the same thing is true for western music.
One nettor suggested that western music developed harmony for the
sake of enabling large groups of people to sing together in churches...
which seems like a fine theory to me. But these are all theories.
We don't know what happened. But there you have my take on it.
BTW, one idea of how ghastly things can get when two traditions meet
can be seen in the highly popular Carnatic "English note," which really
is
what Muttuswami Dikshitar, one of the trinity of Carnatic music
composers,
originated ... he saw how the British wrote their songs, and created
similar songs based on fixed notes in Indian ragas. This is fine if
you are just trying to teach small kids or beginners how to sing a raga

(with the intent that as the student gets more proficient, he or she
will
be taught how to sing the gamakas), but this stuff is regularly
spewed out in real concerts even today. Everyone who knows something
about Carnatic music knows about the famous "English note" that
Madurai Mani Iyer used to sing.

Some other observations of what others have postulated:
1. Indian music is extemporaneous, so how can two people perform
together in harmony?
True. But can we even come up with harmony for a fixed composition in
ICM which flows well, without compromising the melody line?
2. ICM is an individualistic art.
Yes, so nobody thought there was a reason for two people to sing
together? I disagree. People did think there was a point in this,
that two people performing together could enhance the effect of the
music, which is why we have accompanists. It is a different thing that

accompanists merely echo the main performer and do different things
only when the main performer has given them the privilege of doing so,
never in unison.
3. There is group singing of ICM.
Yes, but harmony is not merely 50 people singing the same melody.
Can ICM do what Boyz2Men do, four people singing different pitches
and sounding good together? (or take Destiny's Child if you prefer ...

I think I made my point).
4. There is a canon effect because of how the accompanist follows
the main melodic performer.
Agreed completely.
Don't know if I missed anything else.

Kumar

Paulo

unread,
Jan 22, 2006, 6:41:15 AM1/22/06
to

Great that you brought this up. It was gnawing at the back of my mind.
The key thing here is: in all scenarios you described, chords are
played but tension doesn't build up. It's circular, endless. Western
harmony creates tension/release scenarios: at some time the tension is
released (of course, ignoring Wagner, Schoenberg and a lot of stuff
that comes from these guys). In musical system not based on harmony,
the musical phrases don't end because tension doesn't build up.

And, of course, this is not exclusive to ICM. All modal traditions work
this way.

Paulo

Paulo

unread,
Jan 22, 2006, 6:43:19 AM1/22/06
to

I confess my ignorance here: what is the "sharaj" ? If you tune two
strings to different notes, you tuned them to an interval. How can you
*not* tune to "intervalic schemes" ?

Paulo

Paulo

unread,
Jan 22, 2006, 6:46:01 AM1/22/06
to
bonny...@hotmail.com wrote:

[...]

> Since you are from Brazil , just check the work done by
> Madhup Mudgal great ICM singer from New Delhi, India
>
> Music - Samvad - India Meets Brazil- Madhup Mudgal - Live In Concert.
>
> http://www.khazana.com/et/products/product.asp?sku=INMU8323&Region=&Country=India&Department=Music&Sub%5FDept=&Next=0&Artist=Madhup+Mudgal&new%5Ftarget=%2Fet%2Fproducts%2Fproduct%5Fby%5Fartist%2Easp&mscsstcid=&mscssid=PXFREXAMNLJM9J35NU4G9XX1W6490B66

Would you mind telling me more about this album, Singh ? I looked at
the site and you can't listen to samples ? Do you like it ? How does it
sound like ? Is it analogous to the work of Amelia Cuni with Baroque
music, for example ?

Thanks for the kind suggestion
Paulo

Paulo

unread,
Jan 22, 2006, 7:03:27 AM1/22/06
to
naya...@gmail.com wrote:
> I think (now obviously this is purely speculation; I have no
> historical evidence) that it must have been this way:

Don't worry about this: we're here thinking aloud... Genuine ideas come
from sincere speculation, as I feel we've been trying to do in this
thread. It's teaching me so much that I get thrilled whenever I sit
down to read a post and answer it. I wish we were all personally in a
room, talking these things.

> >From all that we can see today, ICM is an individualistic art,
> so a single person can do the performance by himself, with no
> accompanists at all, if necessary. This suggests that the tradition
> developed in a fashion where individuals displayed their abilities
> by coming up with more and more complex melodic patterns.
> Once you go along that route, going for the vertical dimension
> becomes more and more challenging. I doubt that this was
> considered at the very beginning and someone thought, okay,
> shall we go the melodic or the harmonic route? we vote melodic.

What bugs me is the doubt: why vote melodic ? Looking at Western
tradition, it hasn't been either melodic or harmonic. It also started
essentially melodic, precisely like ICM. But then, around the Middle
Ages, melodic lines started to be superimposed in such intricate
patterns, that harmony arose naturally out of the vertical slices of
these superimposed melodic lines. And you can see, deeply seated in the
20th century, the work of a guy named Lennie Tristano, that strides
back to the purity of a single melodic line. The harmony is still there
with him, but the focus is on the melodic lines.

I then ask myself: why the West started to superimpose melodic lines,
leading to harmony, and the modal traditions, where ICM is inscribed,
concentrated on a single melodic line, infinitely elaborated ?

> I do think that the concept of harmony came to the attention of
> Indian musicians as their contact with westerners developed, but
> by this time the music was so ornate melodically that to try to fit
> harmony into this must have seemed impossible. It is simply a
> question of chance ... ICM happened to evolve this way, and you
> cannot both evolve to this extent melodically AND harmonically.

But you see: melody doesn't exclude harmony. And we're forgetting to
insert rhythm in the picture. It's always a question of degrees of
focus, of who comes first. If you take only the four musical elements,
melody, rhythm, harmony and timbre, the West has always been
schizophrenic and, along the history, gave more attention to each one
of these elements. ICM, and the modal traditions, developed melody and
rhythm together, organically, embraced forever, in a more
psychologically centred and sane fashion. The West is split and "sick",
in this respect.

> I don't think it is a zero sum game, though...someone will figure it
> out someday. And the same thing is true for western music.
> One nettor suggested that western music developed harmony for the
> sake of enabling large groups of people to sing together in churches...
> which seems like a fine theory to me. But these are all theories.
> We don't know what happened. But there you have my take on it.

The important thing is to search for hypothesis that feel better, that
feel more adjusted to how we feel about these two musical traditions.
Going deeper into how we listen and practise these musical systems, and
trying to formulate these perceptions, will undoubtedly lead us to
something that feels like "truth".

> BTW, one idea of how ghastly things can get when two traditions meet
> can be seen in the highly popular Carnatic "English note," which really
> is
> what Muttuswami Dikshitar, one of the trinity of Carnatic music
> composers,
> originated ... he saw how the British wrote their songs, and created
> similar songs based on fixed notes in Indian ragas. This is fine if
> you are just trying to teach small kids or beginners how to sing a raga
>
> (with the intent that as the student gets more proficient, he or she
> will
> be taught how to sing the gamakas), but this stuff is regularly
> spewed out in real concerts even today. Everyone who knows something
> about Carnatic music knows about the famous "English note" that
> Madurai Mani Iyer used to sing.

This must be disgusting to hear, doesn't it ? I absolutely abhor these
Frankenstein mixes.

> Some other observations of what others have postulated:
> 1. Indian music is extemporaneous, so how can two people perform
> together in harmony?
> True. But can we even come up with harmony for a fixed composition in
> ICM which flows well, without compromising the melody line?

Harmony in itself doesn't compromise the melodic line. Examples abound
in the Western tradition. I suspect that, yes, one might say that it
compromises in as much as it injects tension/release patterns into the
melodic line. Without harmony, the melodic line can flow graciously,
endlessly, and the performer doesn't have to worry to resolve his line,
to end it in a musically logical fashion, as is the case with Western
traditions.

> 2. ICM is an individualistic art.
> Yes, so nobody thought there was a reason for two people to sing
> together? I disagree. People did think there was a point in this,
> that two people performing together could enhance the effect of the
> music, which is why we have accompanists. It is a different thing that
>
> accompanists merely echo the main performer and do different things
> only when the main performer has given them the privilege of doing so,
> never in unison.

Whether it's a solitary performer or a group, I don't feel that it
matters. The group can be organized in such a way that no
tension/release patterns emerge.

[...]

You brought interesting observations, Kumar.

Paulo

Paulo

unread,
Jan 22, 2006, 8:36:54 AM1/22/06
to
Orlando Enrique Fiol wrote:

[...]

> You might mean that when notes serve different functions in different
> chords, their pitches must be adjusted. Western music has accommodated
> this tendency by proliferating equal temperament, in which case no
> chords are actually composed of pure intervals, intervals that are so
> important to ICM. On the other hand, many dreaded harmoniums are tuned
> in equal temperament so that they can be played in any key. Ironically,
> when INdians speak of tempered harmoniums, they mean that the
> instruments have been tuned to contain pure intervals in one key, like
> just intonation in the West. This is confusing because, for a Western
> musician, a tempered interval is tuned sharper or flatter than a pure
> interval so that it can blend in with other pitches in harmonic
> settings.

Now, this is a truly fascinating comment you've just made, Orlando.
>From Alain Daniélou:

"Listening to any sonata on the piano demands a huge unconscious effort
from the listener, in order to correct, innerly, the distortions of the
equal temperament, implying a degree of subliminal fatigue that Indian
Music, for example, doesn't know of".

You're absolutely right: Western harmony as we know, rests upon equal
temperament. No wonder that Western harmony was coherently systematized
only after the widespread adoption of equal temperament, which happened
around Johann Sebastian Bach. But here we have a "the egg and the
chicken" situation: did the West develop harmony because it had equal
temperament, or was equal temperament developed because it was
necessary for the development of harmony ? This shines light on the
issue but I feel we still haven't got the primal sources of my original
doubt: why the West went down the Harmony road, and ICM, together with
other modal traditions, elaborated on the Melody/Rhythm road.

This discussion gets more and more interesting at each post.

Paulo

Paulo

unread,
Jan 22, 2006, 8:43:31 AM1/22/06
to

Kumar,

Even though I don't know the exact meaning of concepts such as "komal
rishabh" and "gandhar", and I don't have knowledge of neither Western
nor ICM theory, I sense truth in what you've just said. But then, you
elaborated what Orlando had more succintly said which explains why
Western harmony can't fit into the current state of ICM
systematization: this still doesn't explain why ICM evolved in this
direction, reaching an elaborate state that necessarily excludes
harmony, because it doesn't make sense in it, because it can't be
practised within it.

Paulo

Orlando Enrique Fiol

unread,
Jan 22, 2006, 9:52:18 PM1/22/06
to
naya...@gmail.com wrote:
>I don't fully understand what you are saying, and I do not understand
>western musical theory very much, so let me try to elaborate on what I
>am saying and see if you agree with me.

Okay.

>In whatever western music I have listened to, the notes that are sung/
>played in the melodic line are pure notes, meaning notes which don't
>waver a whole lot. This is necessary if the notes have to sound
>consonant
>with the chord that is being simultaneously at that time. This is true
>even
>of stuff like blues and jazz, which allow the notes to "bend" somewhat.

Correct.

>(All I understand from those is that there are a lot more chord
>progressions
>available there.)

In general, variety of chord progressions is tied to the amount of
chromaticism used, in other words, notes outside the main scale or key.

>From what little I can make of it,
>it is because even in those musics, there are these discrete "resting
>points,"
>the discrete notes of, say, the piano, on which the melody mainly
>moves.
>The fact that you can play jazz on the piano is itself evidence of
>this. You
>CANNOT play ICM on a piano or any equivalent instrument with fixed
>notes
> ... you can do an approximation to it, as is
>done with a harmonium, but that is a very poor approximation because
>ICM
>is primarily a continuous music. I don't know if this has anything to
>do with
>the comparison between equal temperament versus just intonation which,
>as I understand it, refers to fixed intervals between notes and
>intervals between
>notes that are not constant in a raga, and also change from raga to
>raga.

There are two issues at work here, the fixed intervals or shrutis,
(which can be pure, flat or sharp intervals in relation to the sharaj),
and the various forms of ornamentation such as lehek, doran, moran,
andolan, murki, khatakaa, ghamaka, meend, etc., all of which govern
various types of wavering effects, bends and slides towards, between and
away from fixed pitches.

>If I understand your post correctly, you
>are suggesting that because the notes have different positions in
>different
>ragas, you would have a difficult time setting chords for them.

Yes, different fixed pitches have different shrutis in different ragas,
at least in the dhrupad Daagar baani I practice.

>I am saying that even if you operate with a fixed raga, you could not tune your
>piano to be consonant with that raga (even given unlimited leeway, so, say,
>an electronic piano where you could change the pitches of individual
>keys.)

Any fixed pitched instrument could be tuned to the fixed shrutis in a
raga. Thus, the gandaar in Darbari would be much flatter than that of
Bhimpalaasi, etc.

>And I am saying this because the notes in ICM have such heavy
>vibratos that no discrete set of chords can adequately be consonant
>with the melodic line ... the chord would also have to move
>dynamically;
>in other words, an infinite series of chord progressions, just like an
>infinite
>possibility of microtones.

This need not be so. You could theoretically run a singer through a
harmonizer, set a pleasing chord for his pancham or gandaar, and then
let the harmonizer perform all his ornamentation right along with him.
Every passing shruti of a note need not have its own chord. Chords in
Western music are applied only to combinations of the fixed pitches of
the octave, not to transient microtonal pitches, unless the piece is in
a temperament in which those microtonal pitches become fixed. In other
words, if you have a tuning in which there are six shrutis of gandaar,
then you could make chords with all six, from a Western standpoint.
But, if you only have one fixed pitch for gandaar and allow for andolan,
an infinite number of transient pitches would result.

>but if the melody is going to be dominated by such vibratos (e.g.,
>taans), any
>chord you play is going to sound dissonant. Now dissonance is okay in
>western
>music, but it is a planned dissonance. Otherwise we would simply have
>noise.

I would argue that ICM is full of dissonances as different swaras are
held against the pitches of the taanpura. For instance, the komal
rishab of Aasaavari might sound very dissonant against the taanpura's
pitches, but will be resolved to a more consonant sounding gandaar.

Orlando

Orlando Enrique Fiol

unread,
Jan 22, 2006, 10:02:24 PM1/22/06
to
marce...@gmail.com wrote:
>The key thing here is: in all scenarios you described, chords are
>played but tension doesn't build up. It's circular, endless.

This is not correct. ICM has the concept of vaadi, samvaadi and nyaas,
(rest), which is the resolution of dissonance.

>Western harmony creates tension/release scenarios: at some time the tension is
>released (of course, ignoring Wagner, Schoenberg and a lot of stuff
>that comes from these guys). In musical system not based on harmony,
>the musical phrases don't end because tension doesn't build up.

Tension indeed builds up; it just doesn't build up on many fronts at
once. In counterpoint, tension results from different combinations of
pitches not forming consonant concords. In modal systems, tension is
produced by the single line forming dissonance with a drone or a clear
sense of tonicity. To make an analogy, in polyphonic music, dissonance
is like many people walking down the street and bumbing into one another
because they are walking at different rates or are not each looking
where they're going. In modal music, dissonance is produced by one
person walking down the street and tripping on a loose piece of pavement
or accidentally crashing into a lamppost.

Orlando

Orlando Enrique Fiol

unread,
Jan 22, 2006, 10:05:24 PM1/22/06
to
marce...@gmail.com wrote:
>I confess my ignorance here: what is the "sharaj" ?

The tonic.

>If you tune two strings to different notes, you tuned them to an interval. How can you
>*not* tune to "intervalic schemes" ?

As a piano tuner and ICM practitioner, let me attempt to clarify this.
When tuning a piano, you do not tune notes in relationship to a central
pitch; you tune them to one another so that the resulting intervals beat
at prescribed rates. In ICM, all notes are tuned in relation to the
sharaj and are not tuned as intervals to other notes. This may be
difficult to imagine since intervals like the minor second and minor
third are difficult to set. But, I have witnessed Indian singers tune
entire swaramandala without tuning any strings to one another and
instead tuning each string individually to the sharaj.

Orlando

Orlando Enrique Fiol

unread,
Jan 22, 2006, 10:11:37 PM1/22/06
to
marce...@gmail.com wrote:
>You're absolutely right: Western harmony as we know, rests upon equal
>temperament. No wonder that Western harmony was coherently systematized
>only after the widespread adoption of equal temperament, which happened
>around Johann Sebastian Bach. But here we have a "the egg and the
>chicken" situation: did the West develop harmony because it had equal
>temperament, or was equal temperament developed because it was
>necessary for the development of harmony ?

Both. Mean tone temperament proved unsatisfactory for composers eager
to explore keys that were very far apart in the circle of fifths. So,
the intervals had to be tempered even more so that all keys produced
relatively consonant intervals. After such a system was finally
codified, it took another fifty years before its use became widespread.
In that intervening period, composers tended to use circular
temperaments wherein the octave was not equally divided but where all
keys sounded different. In equal temperament, the goal is for the
intervalic ratios to be identical regardless of transposition. So, you
should get the same type of third in C major as you would in E major.
In a circular temperament, depending on where the tuning was begun,
there would be pure thirds in some keys and very sharp thirds in others;
there would be flat fifths in certain keys and perfect fifths in others.
Equal temperament flattened those sharp Pythagorean thirds and raised
those mean tone fifths almost to purity. However, the pure third
suffered in order for all this to take place with twelve pitches. Other
systems of equal temperament employing octaves as large as 19 or 31
intervals do not possess these limitations on pure intervals.

>This shines light on the issue but I feel we still haven't got the primal sources of my original
>doubt: why the West went down the Harmony road, and ICM, together with
>other modal traditions, elaborated on the Melody/Rhythm road.

Why do certain cultures become more spiritually advanced, while others
are more materially advanced? Why do certain nations develop strong
armies while others develop good poets and painters?

Orlando

Orlando Enrique Fiol

unread,
Jan 22, 2006, 10:13:21 PM1/22/06
to
marce...@gmail.com wrote:
>Even though I don't know the exact meaning of concepts such as "komal
>rishabh" and "gandhar", and I don't have knowledge of neither Western
>nor ICM theory, I sense truth in what you've just said.

Just so you know, komal means flat and tivra means sharp. So, komal
rishab means the flat second.

Orlando

genewa...@gmail.com

unread,
Jan 23, 2006, 6:27:16 PM1/23/06
to

Paulo wrote:

> You're absolutely right: Western harmony as we know, rests upon equal
> temperament. No wonder that Western harmony was coherently systematized
> only after the widespread adoption of equal temperament, which happened
> around Johann Sebastian Bach.

Western temperament to a large extent depends on meantone, of which
equal temperament is an example. During the Renassiance and early
modern periods, it was the tuning in use. Moreover Bach was not a
practioner of equal temperament; he seems to have used circulating or
well-temperaments for the most part, but not equal. Mozart was taught
and taught his students meantone tuning. However, in the 19th century
circulating temperaments took over, and they became increasingly close
to equal. It wasn't until the early 20th century that piano tuners
started to tune in genuine equla temperament, though they had been
getting pretty close.

Outside of fixed tuning intruments, it still is pretty likely that the
tuning will be adjusted in some kinds of music, so even in the 21st
century equal temperament has not taken over completely.

But here we have a "the egg and the
> chicken" situation: did the West develop harmony because it had equal
> temperament, or was equal temperament developed because it was
> necessary for the development of harmony ?

Equal temperament developed out of a desire to play meantone in all
keys. It could have ended up with 19 tones to the octave for the same
reason. 12, however, is the smallest number of tones which works.

Kabir

unread,
Jan 24, 2006, 12:06:34 PM1/24/06
to
Having formally learned both Indian Classical and Western Classical
Music while growing up in the US (my family is Pakistani-American), I
have a few insights to offer on this... A theory that my father and I
came up with is that the reason that ICM did not focus on harmony while
Western Music did, is because in Indian Music, the human voice is
considered the ideal which all instruments should emulate. This is
borne out by the fact that even a sitar performance (especially Ustaad
Vilayet Khan's "gaiykee ang") follows the structure that a singer would
use. Because the singer cannot produce two notes at the same time,
harmony never became an essential part of ICM. Even when two singers
perform a duet together, they will only sing in unison the first line
of the composition and then alternate on improvisations.


In Contrast, the basic instrument of Western Music is the piano, on
which it is possible to play chords. Thus the idea of harmony and of
choral singing became part of the Western Music tradition.

Paulo wrote:
> I know very little of ICM, but I can see that it has systematized
> melody and rhythm to such a painstakingly detailed, sophisticated,
> subtle, elegant level, miles and miles ahead of anything that western
> tradition has attempted. ICM also systematized other parameters, such
> as the psychodynamic effect of music, that western traditions very
> grossly ignore, which is such a shame. It puzzles me that ICM doesn't
> seem to have bothered to systematized harmony, which is the cornerstone
> of western musical tradition; western musical history hinges on this
> parameter.


>
> I'm deeply curious to understand why ICM has excluded harmony from its
> musical system. Would anybody know of any hypothesis for this ?
>

> Paulo

genewa...@gmail.com

unread,
Jan 24, 2006, 1:37:53 PM1/24/06
to

Kabir wrote:

> Having formally learned both Indian Classical and Western Classical
> Music while growing up in the US (my family is Pakistani-American), I
> have a few insights to offer on this... A theory that my father and I
> came up with is that the reason that ICM did not focus on harmony while
> Western Music did, is because in Indian Music, the human voice is
> considered the ideal which all instruments should emulate.

I don't think this can be right. Historically, harmony in Western music
grew out of having a cappella singers singing it. The earliest form is
called "Organum", and developed in the medieval period. At first it was
simply two voices in parallel fourths or fifths singing a Gregorian
chant together. Over time, this became more elaborate, with
independently moving parts, though thirds and sixths were still not
used as consonances. Then popular music took up the practice, and
thirds were added. It was in full flower by the time Sumer is Icumen In
was anonymously composed in the 13th century.

One might, however, ask rather why harmony was lost in the Middle East,
because that seems to have been the home of it. The Sumerians,
Babylonians and others in the region used something like the diatonic
scale, including temperament, and put a lot of emphasis on harmony in
thirds. But that entirely disappeared, and was rediscovered in the
West.
We know this because some of their theory and tuning instructions have
survived, though very little music did.

> In Contrast, the basic instrument of Western Music is the piano, on
> which it is possible to play chords.

The piano is a relatively recent invention. It's not the basic
instrument, and normally is not even a part of a symphony orchestra
unless it is playing a piano concerto, in which case they bring in a
soloist.

Town Crier

unread,
Jan 24, 2006, 11:58:59 PM1/24/06
to

Kabir wrote:

> ... in Indian Music, the human voice is considered


> the ideal which all instruments should emulate.

I, too, used to think this was the unanimous view, till I read this:

Prof. Joep Bor (Codarts Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, Rotterdam):

"I will (also) argue that alap improvisation, the very core of the
Hindustani classical music, was first and foremost an instrumental
phenomenon."

(See
http://www.tifr.res.in/scripts/cal_view.php?terminalnodeid=15600&eventid=443)

DG

Paulo

unread,
Jan 25, 2006, 8:01:23 AM1/25/06
to
Orlando Enrique Fiol wrote:
> Tension indeed builds up; it just doesn't build up on many fronts at
> once. In counterpoint, tension results from different combinations of
> pitches not forming consonant concords. In modal systems, tension is
> produced by the single line forming dissonance with a drone or a clear
> sense of tonicity.

[...]

We hit a dictionary clash. Being a non-musician, I tend to appropriate
words for their poetic effect and not their musical precision.

This is how I feel about this stuff: when I listen to a Mozart sonata,
for example, I can feel the harmonic pull towards a resolution that
only happens fully at the end. When I listen to a Wagner or Mahler
theme, I can feel the same harmonic pull and the continuous
procrastination of the resolution. When I listen to Schoenberg, I feel
a systematic denial of building up that harmonic pull, so the hearing
experience feels, at first, disoriented, because it's not pulled
towards any direction.

I don't feel this harmonic pull towards resolution in modal music, such
as ICM. I do feel a rhythmic pull towards rhythmic resolution. I feel
the themes building up rhythmic tension, towards a trance-like,
ecstatic position.

Orlando Enrique Fiol wrote:

[...]

> Why do certain cultures become more spiritually advanced, while others


> are more materially advanced? Why do certain nations develop strong
> armies while others develop good poets and painters?

Fascinating questions. I'm also obsessively attracted to: what draws a
particular person to a particular religion or a particular
psychotherapy method. I've read that the Muslims say that the world is
God's book. I'd add: written in a language that we choose to forget. My
original post and your questions are attempts to decipher some of that
language, I feel.

genewa...@gmail.com wrote:

[...]

> Western temperament to a large extent depends on meantone, of which
> equal temperament is an example.

Please indulge in my ignorance: could you explain what is "meantone" ?
My concepts about "equal temperament" were evidently incomplete, and
I'd really like to understand this.

[...]

> Outside of fixed tuning intruments, it still is pretty likely that the
> tuning will be adjusted in some kinds of music, so even in the 21st
> century equal temperament has not taken over completely.

Where hasn't equal temperament taken over completely ? I assume you
mean within Western tradition, since the modal traditions all stick to
pure tuning (is that how it is called ?). Right ?

[...]

> Equal temperament developed out of a desire to play meantone in all
> keys. It could have ended up with 19 tones to the octave for the same
> reason. 12, however, is the smallest number of tones which works.

The question should be more precisely worded then as: why the West
desired to play meantone in all keys ?

genewa...@gmail.com wrote:

[...]

> One might, however, ask rather why harmony was lost in the Middle East,
> because that seems to have been the home of it. The Sumerians,
> Babylonians and others in the region used something like the diatonic
> scale, including temperament, and put a lot of emphasis on harmony in
> thirds. But that entirely disappeared, and was rediscovered in the
> West.
> We know this because some of their theory and tuning instructions have
> survived, though very little music did.

My eyes are rolling in their orbits: this is fascinating. This missing
link might shine a light on the issue. Do you know of any literature
that talks about these rudiments of harmony in the Middle East, and why
they were left behind ?

Paulo

genewa...@gmail.com

unread,
Jan 26, 2006, 12:55:01 AM1/26/06
to

Paulo wrote:

> > Western temperament to a large extent depends on meantone, of which
> > equal temperament is an example.
>
> Please indulge in my ignorance: could you explain what is "meantone" ?
> My concepts about "equal temperament" were evidently incomplete, and
> I'd really like to understand this.

Meantone temperament equates the 9/8 and 10/9 tones, so that a fifth is
one fourth of a
5:1 ratio interval.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meantone_temperament


> [...]
>
> > Outside of fixed tuning intruments, it still is pretty likely that the
> > tuning will be adjusted in some kinds of music, so even in the 21st
> > century equal temperament has not taken over completely.
>
> Where hasn't equal temperament taken over completely ?

Schoenberg had to work hard to get the string players to play his
string quartet in equal temperament, and even today a quartet doesn't
play Brahms that way. In fact, with the revival of interest in older
music has come a revival of interest in older tunings, and performances
in tunings much closer to 31-equal than 12-equal are now common. For
that matter, Eddie van Halen doesn't tune his guitar in equal
temperament, so there are a lot of funny quarters where alternatives
are lurking.

I assume you
> mean within Western tradition, since the modal traditions all stick to
> pure tuning (is that how it is called ?). Right ?

I don't know what you mean by pure tuning, but a Vaughan Williams piece
in a modal scale is certainly in the Western tradition. Renaissance
modal music, as I remarked, is intended for meantone tunings, and the
same was true for early post-Renaissance composers such as Couperin or
Monteverdi.

> [...]
>
> > Equal temperament developed out of a desire to play meantone in all
> > keys. It could have ended up with 19 tones to the octave for the same
> > reason. 12, however, is the smallest number of tones which works.
>
> The question should be more precisely worded then as: why the West
> desired to play meantone in all keys ?

Once you start out modulating, it seems logical you might end up
wanting to do so freely.

> > One might, however, ask rather why harmony was lost in the Middle East,
> > because that seems to have been the home of it. The Sumerians,
> > Babylonians and others in the region used something like the diatonic
> > scale, including temperament, and put a lot of emphasis on harmony in
> > thirds. But that entirely disappeared, and was rediscovered in the
> > West.
> > We know this because some of their theory and tuning instructions have
> > survived, though very little music did.
>
> My eyes are rolling in their orbits: this is fascinating. This missing
> link might shine a light on the issue. Do you know of any literature
> that talks about these rudiments of harmony in the Middle East, and why
> they were left behind ?

J. C. Franklin's dissertation, now being revised for publication as a
book, is partly available on the web here:
http://www.kingmixers.com/Terp.html

I especially recommend checking out "The Babylonian Tuning Cycle"

Anjum Altaf

unread,
Jan 26, 2006, 3:07:53 AM1/26/06
to
Here is a layperson's simple, non-technical hypothesis which can be
called the "One Throat, Two Hands" hypothesis.

A fundamental place in Western music belongs to the keyboard. The water
organ (hydraulis) was invented as early as the 3rd century BC and the
bellows organ in the 2nd century AD. The church (and later the concert)
organ has been central to Western music since the 8th century BC.
Musicians wrote a lot of music for the organ - records of keyboard
music survive from the early 14th century.

The hydraulis (a machine rather than a natural instrument) was invented
by Ctesibios while he was trying to solve the problem of having one
person play more than one wind instrument at the same time. The
essential point is that the keyboard allows the use of both hands to
play music - the easiest way to play polyphonic music. (Note that it
was also possible for more than one person to play on the organ
keyboards.)

Now there was no equivalent of keyboard instruments in ICM till the
time in the 19th century (BC!) when the harmonium found its way to
India. It is quite possible, as Prof. Jep Boer notes, that "alap


improvisation, the very core of the Hindustani classical music, was

first and foremost an instrumental phenomenon." However, these were all
string instruments - much less conducive to playing polyphonic music.

The interesting question relates to the reason for this tremendous
divergence in instrumentation. One line would be to argue that
necessity is the mother of invention. There was a lot of congregational
singing in the Western tradition. In monasteries, abbeys, cathedrals,
and churches worship included liturgical singing in groups. This need
called for an instrument that could support this type of singing. Hence
the central place of the church organ and institutions like the
"Kings Organ Maker."

There was no such tradition of congregational singing in Hindu
religion. Rather there was the tradition of holy men going off into
solitary journeys and seeking God or the Ultimate through individual
worship. Part of this worship was music - first chanting and then the
addition of text. Hence the primacy of voice in what grew into ICM.
With one throat you can't have polyphonic music.

The two trajectories can thus be followed to the present. The great
names that are remembered in ICM are the vocalists, starting in recent
history from Tansen down to Rashid Khan today. Nobody thinks much about
composers (although they were there like Sadarang, etc.) and there are
no such things as conductors. On the other hand, in Western classical
music the names that are iconic are those of the composers (Mozart,
Bach, etc.), great conductors are remembered, but there is much less
recognition of vocalists (except more recently in the case of opera).

When one reserves a ticket for a WCM concert one knows what one is
going to listen to a whole season in advance. When one turns up for an
ICM concert, one doesn't know what one would hear till the time the
artist begins.

All this is pure speculation by someone who knows next to nothing about
WCM or ICM but a little bit about the materialist strand of historical
development.

It's been fun trying to think this through. Thanks Paulo.

naya...@gmail.com

unread,
Jan 26, 2006, 6:08:42 AM1/26/06
to
Hi Orlando,

Thanks for the clarification about chords. I found your last point
most
interesting, viz., the dissonances in Indian music because of the
tanpura.
This implies that there IS definitely harmony in Indian music, albeit
LIMITED...
that there HAS to be the harmony due to the drone of the tanpura.
If we don't have it, we would not feel as much as we do the tension
because
of the disharmony when we are away from the consonant notes and the
release when we hit the consonant notes, esp. the tonic (the Dagars do
this
beautifully because of their slow development ... I can never forget
their
(younger Dagar brothers) upper octave Sa in the JVC recording of
raga multani ... multani is such a dissonant raga within the drone of
the tonic
that your mind is craving for the release ... and when Faiyyazuddin
sings
that Sa for what seems to be a long time, you feel like it could go on
for ever.
Of course, there are a zillion recordings of different musicians that
could show
this, but this one came to mind, and the slow development certainly
helps.
Nikhil Banerjee's alaps also come to mind.)
I had never thought about the tanpura being responsible for the tension
and
release, because I find this happening even when I listen to or sing
performances without any accompanying instrument, but then I might be
unconciously listening to the tanpura in my mind. When you have
listened
to ICM for a long time, the tanpura stays in your mind even when it is
not
actually there. When you are learning Carnatic music, the teacher
makes you
sing S-P-s-P-S to set your mind to the tonic. Do it a hundred times
and
it will be with you for ever.

Kumar

naya...@gmail.com

unread,
Jan 26, 2006, 6:20:03 AM1/26/06
to
DG,

This is a very unusual opinion. I would be very interested in seeing
the full talk.

This is just one person's view, and I, personally, will disregard it
unless I have
some hard evidence. To date, I have heard and read only two
explanations for
the development of ICM: the hindus claim it was vedic chants from the
samaveda,
and the muslims claim that it comes from azan, the muslim call for
prayer. (see,
for an example of the latter, the TIPS recording of Bismillah Khan
talking about
his music on his 75th birthday.)

Neither of these is instrumental.

Kumar

naya...@gmail.com

unread,
Jan 26, 2006, 9:34:10 AM1/26/06
to
I posted this a little while ago, but noticed that the original post
was
not quoted. So I'm reposting with the original post quoted.

DG,

Kumar

Town Crier wrote:


> Paulo wrote:
> >
> > I'm deeply curious to understand why ICM has excluded harmony from its
> > musical system. Would anybody know of any hypothesis for this ?
>

> Apparently European art music is unique in the amount of importance it
> gives to harmony and polyphony. (ref:
> http://www.teach12.com/store/course.asp?id=700&d=How+to+Listen+to+and+Understand+Great+Music&pc=Fine%20Arts%20and%20Music)
>
> My take on why polyphony became central to European music is that they
> built such huge churches during renaissance that all comers had to be
> admitted into choruses in order to make a loud enough sound to fill
> those churches. Naturally, any one pitch was too high for some and too
> low for others. YMMV.
>
> DG

naya...@gmail.com

unread,
Jan 26, 2006, 9:50:49 AM1/26/06
to
Sorry, wrong quote. Here is the correct one that I was responding to:

Town Crier
Jan 25, 4:58 am show options
Newsgroups: rec.music.indian.classical
From: "Town Crier" <deadlygen...@hotmail.com> - Find messages by this
author
Date: 24 Jan 2006 20:58:59 -0800
Local: Wed, Jan 25 2006 4:58 am
Subject: Re: Why ICM excluded harmony from its musical system ?
Reply | Reply to Author | Forward | Print | Individual Message | Show
original | Report Abuse

Kabir wrote:
> ... in Indian Music, the human voice is considered
> the ideal which all instruments should emulate.

I, too, used to think this was the unanimous view, till I read this:

Prof. Joep Bor (Codarts Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, Rotterdam):

"I will (also) argue that alap improvisation, the very core of the


Hindustani classical music, was first and foremost an instrumental
phenomenon."

(See
http://www.tifr.res.in/scripts/cal_view.php?terminalnodeid=15600&even...)

DG

Orlando Enrique Fiol

unread,
Jan 27, 2006, 2:42:30 AM1/27/06
to
kabir...@gmail.com wrote:
>In Contrast, the basic instrument of Western Music is the piano, on
>which it is possible to play chords. Thus the idea of harmony and of
>choral singing became part of the Western Music tradition.

The fortepiano was not invented until the mid eighteenth century, even
though there were organs, harpsichords and clavichords for four
centuries. However, the keyboard was not the basic musical model of
emulation in Western classical music until the late eighteenth century.

Orlando

Orlando Enrique Fiol

unread,
Jan 27, 2006, 2:46:05 AM1/27/06
to
marce...@gmail.com wrote:
>This is how I feel about this stuff: when I listen to a Mozart sonata,
>for example, I can feel the harmonic pull towards a resolution that
>only happens fully at the end. When I listen to a Wagner or Mahler
>theme, I can feel the same harmonic pull and the continuous
>procrastination of the resolution. When I listen to Schoenberg, I feel
>a systematic denial of building up that harmonic pull, so the hearing
>experience feels, at first, disoriented, because it's not pulled
>towards any direction.
>I don't feel this harmonic pull towards resolution in modal music, such
>as ICM. I do feel a rhythmic pull towards rhythmic resolution. I feel
>the themes building up rhythmic tension, towards a trance-like,
>ecstatic position.

That is because you do not yet know the tension and release structures
evident in ragas. Once you are shown these structures, you will hear
how notes are resolved within ragas and how exquisite and long lasting
tension can be built up.

Orlando

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages