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Sound Examples

The following papers assume a strong background in Carnatic and/or Hindustani music. Questions and requests for clarifications are welcome.

The following authors have published papers on Indian music using modern, scientific methods as well:

An informal list of ideas about Indian music: (under construction)

  1. Ancient Indian music was very different from current-day Carnatic or Hindustani Music.
  2. The term "sruthi" has been warped, redefined, misused or even abused over the years!
  3. Bharatha's ancient musical system DID NOT have 22 musical entities. In fact, he had even LESS THAN 12 notes.
  4. Carnatic music uses MORE THAN 22 "melodic atoms" today, and these can be exhaustively listed. 
  5. Of these various melodic entities, only and exactly 12 are CONSTANT-PITCH entities without pitch inflexions, whose tuning and intonation are flexible and context-dependent. But it is incorrect or incomplete to say that Indian music uses only 12 "flexible" notes. The inflected notes are equal in stature, equally indispensible and distinctly audible.
  6. The number 22 has no significance today. It is NOT EVEN an approximate number by any means. This number is COMPLETELY irrelevant, false and misleading.
  7. The tuning tables initially put forth by Westerners and repeated by authors like Prof Sambamoorthy have no scientific or experimental basis and have been shown to be incorrect. These tables merge values from two theoretical Western tuning systems - Pythogorean and Just Intonation. They have no role in Indian music. In fact, even in the Western world today, reputed scholars in music psychology and cognition doubt the usefulness or relevance of such tuning schemes.
  8. Rational numbers and cycles of fourths and fifths are given undue importance by many Indian musicologists. But mostly they have no connection to actual practice at any point in Indian music history. BUT some rational numbers like 3/2 and 5/4 may be useful if treated as SYMBOLS and not as exact numbers like 1.5 and 1.25. But once you start multiplying them and produce numbers like 256/243 or 27/20, all reason and rationality is lost!
  9. Though the human ear can perceive minute differences in pitch, this fact does not imply that all of them are distinct musical entities. For example, many humans can easily perceive a 5-cent difference between two consecutive pure tones. But a lot of people confuse the number of musical entities that ARE used, the number of entities that COULD BE used and the number of distinctly perceivable sounds.
  10. The phenomenon of BEATING is not necessarily the primary cue, and possibly even irrelevant, for the perception of good tuning or intonation!
  11. Each swaram has multiple varieties or versions, and these multiple versions may appear in the same ragam. For example, to say that Gaulai or Saveri use a "lower" Ri1 is incorrect since MULTIPLE VERSIONS of Ri1 appear in these ragams. The Sa-based upward inflexion is what many people call the "eka-sruthi-rishabham" today, but this "lower" Ri1 is NOT the only Ri1 that appear in these ragams. Furthermore, most other ragams with Suddha Rishabham use this "lower" Ri1 version too.
  12. It can be measured and shown that the pitch of the "eka-sruthi-rishabham" is indeed lower than the constant-pitch Ri1, but doing so invloves AVERAGING the pitch of the so-called "eka-sruthi-rishabham." Actually, the latter is intentionally time-varying and involves pitch inflexions. In fact, the peak of such inflexions may far exceed the pitch of the constant-pitch Ri1. Nevertheless, the average measured value and the perceived effect are always "lower."
  13. Pitch inflexions are a TWO-DIMENSIONAL phenomenon. You can NOT place them at a specific point in the octave. But you can use 2D curves to model and describe them. Trying to describe Indian music using only a set of fixed intervals is futile and incorrect.
  14. Much More to be added ...

Fantasy fiction:   ;-)

ICM related Links:

Indian music:
Psychoacoustics, music perception and cognition web links:
Books on sound perception and music psychology:
Introduction to the physics of music and sound for beginners: