Wednesday, October 14, 2009

SYNOPSIS: My Book "The Mystic Citadel of 22 Srutis Music"

Design of ‘ancient Indian music’ seems to be founded on 22 tones per octave (vis-a-vis our contemporary practice of 12 tones per octave). ‘The ‘keys’ that would unlock this ancient design of music have been disseminated to our civilization in a ‘cryptic’ manner, by way of religio-cultural symbols: i.e. seven ‘Sama Vedic’ tones of the Hindu (Indian) orthodoxy and the Sumerian Pantheon of twelve gods.
Pythagoras, the Visionary of ancient Greece, seems to have grasped an age-old wisdom that ‘good music’ results from ‘simple fractions’, and that ‘complex fractions’ lead to ‘noise’.
Interestingly, Sumerians (4000 B.C.) symbolized their gods as ‘mathematical fractions’. Extrapolated analysis of these ‘fractions’ led me to conclude that the Sumerian gods, in fact, symbolize “twenty-two simple fractions” resident within an octave. (We may, therefore, refer to these fractions as: ‘god-fractions’ of Sumeria).
The Indian scenario was drastically different! Medieval Indian musicologists, have perceived music by their direct “experience” in the “aural” domain, as ‘tones’, vis-à-vis the Western manner of conceptualizing as ‘fractions’. From time immemorial, Holy Sama Veda was chanted in a musical form composed in ‘seven tones’. Quite surprisingly, these seven tones were precisely ‘quantified’ over an octave that was calibrated into “22 equal divisions” (known as 22 ‘Srutis’). This grouping of tones was known as ‘Sadja-grama’; more variants namely ‘Madhyama-grama’ and ‘Murchanas’ were also derived from ‘Sadja grama’ in order to enhance the resource-base of music.
My Experiment. I attempted a new “experiment” by cross-fertilizing the religio-musicological traditions between ancient Sumeria and ancient India; i.e. the Sumerian ‘god-fractions’ were superimposed on the Indian Octave of 22 Srutis. I was amazed to observe that the 22 ‘Sumerian tones’ exactly ‘converged’ into the Indian system of 22  tones: ‘six tones’ embedded in the Indian ‘Sadja-grama’, five tones in ‘Madhyama grama’ and eleven tones in ‘Murchanas’ (i.e. a total of 22 tones!). There had been a total “congruence” in musicological thoughts between Sumeria and Vedic India!
In other words, the ‘Family of 22 Simple Fractions’ indeed enjoys the “sanction” of ancient civilizations of both the East and the West.
I had ventured a bit deeper into the ‘structures’ interior to this ‘family of 22 fractions’. Following features are unique:
·         Each fraction is a ‘sonant’, i.e. each one is a ‘simple fraction’ with respect to the Tonic. These Notes are. Therefore, inherently ‘serene and tranquil’ (somewhat similar to the tones of the drone/ tanpura).
·         While composing melodic phrases, if we configure the ‘Intervals’ between successive ‘Notes’ also as ‘simple fractions’, the resulting melodic phrases would sound far more appealing to our ears.
·         Certain ‘triads’ of adjacent tones (similar to ‘anu-vadis’, as known to the Indian musicologists) beat with one another, to generate additional melodic depths in a composition. This phenomenon may be interpreted as ‘assonance’.
I have fabricated a ‘lyre’ (vina) and a ‘harmonium’ for demonstrating these unique melodic features.
In addition, I have developed some computerised models of music with typical melodic phrases; these have been uploaded on the net so that any keen musician could listen, grasp their fundamental features and innovate further with greater artistic skill.  However, these compositions are somewhat amateurish as I am not an accomplished musician myself. In my enthusiasm to attempt some creativity, I had resorted to a variety of instrumental tones, styles, glissandos, portamentos, ‘gamakas’ etc. These amateurish attempts might sound weird to one’s ears, to begin with! I am confident that some magnanimous musician would be kind enough to come forward and correct such imperfections.
Listen to the following links and tune into my perceptions of 22 srutis music please; ‘R1’ to ‘R6’ denote the ‘Rishabha’ notes on which the melodic structures are founded:



May I solicit comments from the Viewers please? My contact tele: 91 20 26729256, 98501 21834. My e-mail id: Also please visit my web-site: The Book “The Mystic Citadel of 22 Srutis Music” is available with me at the following postal address: Srinivasan Nambirajan, A-7/ 103, FLORIDA ESTATE, Keshav Nagar, Mundhwa, Pune-411036. (Bank drafts / cheques are welcome in the name of Srinivasan Nambirajan, at Rs.450/- only. For overseas readers, the price tag is $35 (US) please. I do exercise my discretion of offering discounts for Educational Institutions, Scholars and Senior citizens).