Music In North India

“Music In North India”, a 2004 publication by Oxford University Press (a resource contributor to my research on world), is a well-written and informative book authored by George E. Ruckert, Senior Lecturer in Music at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Just 100 pages in length with an accompanying CD compilation, the text is a ‘friendly’ read which I am primarily using in preparation for my upcoming excursion to North India in March of 2017.  That’s not to say I don’t love richly informative and superbly researched volumes: The Garland Encyclopedias of World Music.  It’s just that each volume is very heavy 10-12 lbs, and is best used atop my campus desk where I and each one can comfortably rest.

The following is the publisher’s introduction to Music in North India, “one of several case-study volumes that can be used along with Thinking Musically, the core book in the Global Music Series. Thinking Musically incorporates music from many diverse cultures and establishes the framework for exploring the practice of music around the world. It sets the stage for an array of case-study volumes, each of which focuses on a single area of the world. Each case study uses the contemporary musical situation as a point of departure, covering historical information and traditions as they relate to the present.

North India is home to a wealth of musical traditions composed of many different styles, genres, and practices. Music in North India provides a representative overview of this music, discussing rhythm and drumming traditions, song composition and performance styles, and melodic and rhythmic instruments. Drawing on his experience as a sarod player, vocalist, and music teacher, author George Ruckert incorporates numerous musical exercises to demonstrate important concepts. The book ranges from the chants of the ancient Vedas to modern devotional singing and from the serious and meditative rendering of raga to the concert-hall excitement of the modern sitar, sarod, and tabla.

It is framed around three major topics: the devotional component of North Indian music, the idea of fixity and spontaneity in the various styles of Indian music, and the importance of the verbal syllable to the expression of the musical aesthetic in North India. Featuring vivid eyewitness accounts of performances and descriptions of interviews with performers, Music in North India examines the form, structure, and expression of North Indian music while also illuminating its profound religious and cultural significance. A 70-minute CD containing examples of the music discussed in the text is packaged with the book.”

Visit: for a list of case studies in the Global Music Series. The website also includes instructional materials to accompany each study. We’ll see how it goes with internet access and the like, but I do hope to post a few of my ‘learning moments’ during my visit.  More details on that coming as time permits.  –Jonathan

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