Saturday, August 16, 2008

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Classical music and musical instruments

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In this concluding chapter of my thesis, the essence of my research is presented in a logical and scientific manner. The title of my research-work "Musical instruments of the Indian subcontinent: An illustrative documentation and future prospects (An analytical study) ", is clear in meaning and hence outlines the hypothesis of the research. It also summarizes the topic. The title of the thesis may be divided in three broad segments: [a] the historical study of the musical instruments with special reference to the Indian Subcontinent, [b] a study of all known classifications with regard to musical instruments and [c] on the basis of the first two studies, analysing the future prospects of: one, the musical instruments, two, the instrumentalists and three, the widening horizon of job opportunities in this field. Thus, the objective of the research gets very clear in the minds of the reader as he/she goes through the title itself.


1 The objective of the thesis:


In the preface, I have made it clear as to why I chose the aforesaid topic for my research. Now, I will have a general comment upon the objectives of the thesis. It is necessary as one has to fix the targets before taking up an assignment. If the target of the mission is not clear, more often than not, the researcher will lose the momentum. The target should be clear and specific so that no confusing situations may hinder the accomplishment of the mission. Therefore let me put forth the objectives of the research:


1.1The classical/nonclassical music:


The first and foremost objective of this thesis has been to ascertain the meaning, definition and the scope of music. Although the topic is not new and has been discussed by numerous scholars in many books, magazines and seminars/symposiums, yet it seems that the definition and scope of music needs more analysis. For instance, the concept of classical/nonclassical music is still in a state of evolution. This concept was not traditionally taken from the South Asian region. In the ancient history of the Indian music, no concept like the classical/nonclassical music was present. Neither was it seen in the medieval period. Of course, there were divisions like the Desi and Margi Sangeet but the classical music or Shastriya Sangeet, [as we call it now] was not there in our music in the ancient as well as the medieval times of the history of music of the Indian subcontinent. Therefore, it is very important that we should decide the status of the classical/nonclassical music.

Secondly, as I have attracted the attention of the reader to the fact that this concept of classical/nonclassical music is connected somewhere with the advent of new technologies in the field of music and arts. Nationalist movements have also contributed to the term. There has been an identity crisis for the music and the musicians after the Sultanat patronage of the artists was over due to the collapse of Nawabs and kingdoms. The traditional musicians had no or very little options. This insecurity of the career led them to develop a formula like that of the Ragdari Sangeet which was later called as the classical music. But the question still remains unanswered that before the advent of ragas what was the status of classical music. We all are aware about the status of Prabandha. It was considered as Desi Sangeet and hence could not be called as the classical music. There is another opinion that the Dhruvapada, which is said to be most classical, has been evolved out of some kinds of Prabandhas. If Prabandhas were considered as Desi music, how is it possible that the Dhruvapada, which was originated from Prabandha, {Desi Sangeet} is called the classical music? This is one question. Many such problems have been addressed to in the very first chapter while desiding the status of classical music. This discourse about the classical/nonclassical music is more prominent in the Southern region of India than in the Hindustani music system. It is because most of the traditional musicians had very little or virtually no knowledge about anything but the practical aspect of Hindustani music. They did not bother about the status of the theoretical concepts. They kept on their Saadhana in order to put in marvellous performances. In their pursuit, they were very successful but academically speaking, they lost the theoretical value of the art and music. Thus, the grammar of music was de-shaped. As an objective of my thesis, I have tried my level best to re-establish the theoretical values of our music. I have gone through some of the basic concepts which were directly or indirectly related to my topic. I have analysed and compared the various views in the field and tried to reach the conclusion after a careful study of the same.


1.2 A brief historical outlook of the musical instruments:


I have studied the history of musical instruments very carefully. This includes, different opinions about the origin of musical instruments. Scientific and analytical approach has been used to create a converging viewpoint. The history of musical instruments of the subcontinent shows that many musical instruments which were very popular at some point of time, have been eliminated or on the verge of collapse due to the neglect by the instrumentalists. My endeavour has been to look in to the reasons behind the extinction of such musical instruments. The theoretical question as to why some musical instruments survive in the race of civilisations and some cannot encounter the unfavourable circumstances. The factors which lead to the invention of new musical instruments have been taken into account and on the basis of these factors, I have tried to investigate as to why we shun away with the present and roam about in search of the new ones. It is not in the field of musical instruments only. In the every sphere of life, this is the psychology of the human beings. We are not bothered about what we have. We are always disappointed and dejected about the things we do not have with us. This is the reason, that we have always been in search of new things and in this race the old ones have suffered a lot. The story of musical instruments is no different. Many marvellous musical instruments have lost their magic and in the present era, nobody knows where they have disappeared.

All such points about the history of musical instruments of the Indian Subcontinent have been covered. The changing trends and the emerging traditions have also been analysed in the second chapter. I have been keen to find the solutions as to how we can save the tradition of musical instruments of the Indian Subcontinent from the verge of collapse.


1.3 A logical classification of musical instruments:


Under this objective, I have elaborated upon musical instruments in general and some important facts about them in specific. I have gone into the meaning and definition, scope, utility etc of musical instruments. I have also analysed the various methods of classifying musical instruments. "organology" includes all aspects of musical instruments. It has been my endeavour in this thysis and elsewhere too, that the new terms with regard to music should be incorporated in the text while furnishing practical as well as theoretical details. Through the use of a proper technical or musical term, we can transmit the ideas in a better way. Keeping all this in mind, the chapter two of this thesis has been given a technical name. eventually, we should use correct terminology.

The classification of musical instruments has been discussed and debated by many musicians/musicologists. In the western world, many efforts have been made in this direction. However, in the Indian Subcontinent, most of the scholars of music/musicology, just quote the reference from Sangeet Ratnakar about the classification of musical instruments. The same tradition of classifying musical instruments is stil being followed by our musicians. Very few scholars like Pt. Lalmani Misra and Indirani Chakraburty etc have rqaised the issue of the instrument classification and tried to find solutions to the new developments in the field of the instrumental music. My objective had been to find a new classification of musical instruments, in which all the elements of the Sangeet Ratnakar –based elements of instrument-classifications could be preserved and new demands and needs could be incorporated. In this objective, the works of Pt. Lalmani Misra were very helpful.


1.4 Future of musical instruments:


This was also an objective to look into the future of the musical instruments. In this fast changing world, nothing is sure and certain. The history of musical instruments shows that many instruments which had been very popular once, have lost their glitter in this era. There is no guarantee that the musical instruments, which are popular in the present era, would survive in the changing scenario. However, from the present trends, it is very certain that the instrumental music will grow manifolds. The musical instruments may change in their shapes and looks, one or the other musical instrument may get extinguished from the world, but in general the future of the musical instruments looks to be very good and full of new dimensions.


1.5 The Job prospects in the field of the instrumental music:


In my observations, I have found that the instrumental music is providing jobs to numerous instrumentalists. Traditionally, there were three categories of jobs. Namely, one, the performing artists, two, the accompanying artists and three, the teachers or the Gurus who taught music. However, in the present era, new categories of employment opportunities have opened up. The horizon of the employment opportunities has been widening day by day. More and more people are being accommodated in the field of the instrumental music. There are many jobs which may be performed equally by the vocalists as well as the instrumentalists. The globalisation has increased the prospect of jobs in the field. New areas are opening for the instrumentalists. For example, fusion music, jazz music, music-therapy etc. therefore, it can be stated beyond any doubts that the future of the musicians, who opt for the instrumental music, is full of hope.


2 The limitations of the musical instruments:


In this segment, I have attracted the attention of the reader towards the problems of the instrumentalists. These problems need concrete solutions. Here I would not go in detail of all that is already said. My request is to all those who go through this thesis, that they should look into the aspect and try their level best in order to encounter the challenges which are before us.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

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