As fold the best of what they had

As I walked towards the Lewis & Clark Chapel, fiery sun spread its magnificent rays from the horizon. The aroma of candles and cologne filled the chapel. I could hear voices babble in Persian like a mountain river as people greeted each other with hugs and kisses. I took a seat at the far end of the chapel and got ready to immerse myself in a new musical tradition of Persia; close to my own of Hindustani music but unique in its ways. The stage was decorated with artistic Persian calligraphy. After getting introduced by a mesmerizing dance performance, there was a recital of Khayyam’s poem. And after a long tease through an intermission, music performers took the stage, and the lights were dimmed. The hypnotizing melody played by the santoor player filled up the room. The detailed progression by individual strings was immensely peaceful. Tombak was then introduced to this first piece. Finally, the song picked up a faster rhythm and the Daf was a cherry on the top.This concert was of interest to me as I was trying to find a deeper connection between Persian musical tradition and my Hindustani musical heritage. Hindustani music, despite having large volumes of text written, originality and authenticity are the two essential indicators for standardizing the system that was never clearly defined. There is an ongoing debate about the origin of Hindustani music. Some musicologists and nationalists argue that origin of the indigenous Hindustani music goes back to Vedic times thousands of years ago. Others say that much of the evidence we have was from the later medieval period of seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when the merger of Muslim influences was indistinguishable and complete. In spite of long periods of foreign rule, Indian music never lost its vigor and popularity. It took into its fold the best of what they had to offer, and in the process, it rejuvenated itself. I am studying the metamorphism of Hindustani music by comparing it with traditional Persian music because I want to find how Persian music influenced some conventional forms and styles which continue to survive and practiced even today. Ultimately, I hope to engage a discussion that Hindustani music is not in its natural and pure form that it originated in the Vedic period, but a more transformed form of music as it went through a blend of Persian and other cultural influences. This paper is divided into three parts that compare and contrasts different musical aspects of both traditions: interval and scales, structure and musical connotation.In the book The dastga?h concept in Persian music, Farhat mentions the first documentation of any extent on Persian music comes to us from Sasanian period (AD 226-642). At the Sasanian court, musicians had an exalted status. Barbod, a remarkable performer and composer legend from this era is one among the few musicians whose name has survived. Farhat remarks that he is credited with the organization of musical system containing seven modal structures, thirty derivative modes, and three hundred and sixty melodies. The numbers correspond to the number of days in the week, month and year of Sasanian calendar. There is less evidence of what these modes and melodies were, but a number of their names are related to the Islamic era. There are musical documents from the ensuing Islamic period reference to the music of the Sasanian era. After the Persian conquest by the Arabs, Persian musicians were relocated to every corner of the empire. Investigations of such works by musicologists leaves unsubstantial doubt that the music of the Sasanian period is the root of the music of Islamic civilization.Indian culture is one that is morphed and has never been indigenous. The Aryans who settled in India originated from the same group that first entered Persia. Persians have ruled India for an extended period. Wink in his book The Making of Indo-Islamic World remarks that since the 13th century India has frequently been invaded; Muhammad Ghori in the 13th century, Dilawar Khan in the 15th century and the Mughal dynasty who ruled for four centuries. These invasions influenced Indian art and music, and they continue to flourish despite the acquisition of political power. Music was patronized, and it thrived at the imperial courts. There was another aspect of music, secularized by the Bhakti and Sufi saints besides the folk music from the Vedic age. Their significance in the development of Hindustani music cannot be denied. There was an intermingling of ideas and techniques between the cultures. The Hindustani music developed in this era is based on vibrant Indian traditions fused with the Persian and Arabic influences. The process of harmonious blending was so complete in music that any attempt to delineate the indigenous and the foreign elements would be frivolous.The development of the interval and scales in Persian and Hindustani music is interlaced much like their history. Farhat writes that the formal theory in both the traditions originates around late nineteenth to early twentieth century. In the twentieth century, three separate theories on intervals and scales of Persian music were proposed. Hamid Habibi directed a Persian music workshop before the concert where he introduced a 24-quarter-tone scale which was put forward by Ali Naqi Vaziri in 1920. Mehdi Barkelli’s theory followed, according to which Persian music is defined with 22-tone scale. And the third view, established by the present writers isolates five intervals with which all modes are constructed and no longer recognized as ‘basic scale’ concept to make the music more flexible.Hamid Habibi explained the Dastgah system that is ingrained in Persian music since the seventeenth century. It represents two separate ideas; it identifies a set of pieces, traditionally grouped, most of which have their unique modes. It also stands for the modal identity of the initial piece in the group. The mode is usually the dominant mode as it is repeated throughout the performance in cadential melodic patterns. Dastgah signifies the title of the twelve grouping of modes and the initial mode presented in each group.Similar to Persian music, the Indian traditional musical system is also based on modal format and the relation between successive notes. And like Persian music there is an emphasis on microtonal intervals, this is called Shruti. It is thought of as the least audible interval between two sound. In his book Hindustani Music: A Study of Its Development in Seventeenth and Eighteenth, Ahmad notes that there is total of 22 Shrutis in ancient treatises. Indian music uses an abstraction by defining seven notes known as svaras, five semitones (intervals between notes) and 22 Shrutis. The 22 Shruti theory is very close to Mehdi Barkelli’s theory of 22-tone scale.Not only the musical intervals and scales of the two traditions are closely related but also the form and structure of the music have similarities. Hamid Habibi introduced Radif, which is the term used for the pieces that constitute the repertoire of Persian traditional music. These are not clearly defined pieces but melodies upon which impromptu takes place. It has variable content and length, but several elemental melodic features that gives the composition its identity. Radif also denotes the group of pieces that form each of the twelve dastgahs. Ahmad remarks Raga as a word of Sanskrit origin meaning “color or passion” as the counterpart of radif in Hindustani tradition. It is composed using svaras, a modal structure called th?t, a jati that denotes the number of notes used in the raga, an ascending and descending structure, and most importantly the importance on some specific notes known as vadi. A raga would also have unique characteristic movements called pakad. Ahmad remarks that this freeflow structure of ragas with some distinguishable qualities has been around since the Vedic age, but since its sedimentation with other cultures, it has evolved into a new, unique contemporary structure.Apart from the study of the theory of music based on the literature, the style and form of Persian music also bring critical and subtle influences to Hindustani music.The main body of Persian classical music is the radif of tradition pieces. In the late eighteenth century, new genre of pieces was added to the classical repertoire. These pieces differ from the traditional body of the radif in three ways: they are composed pieces of more or less defined form; they are rhythmically stable and fall into regular metric patterns; they are composed by known contemporary musicians. These three categories are pishdaramad, reng, and one vocal form of tasnif or tarane.Habibi played santoor at the Persian concert. He opened with an intended overture before proceeding to the section of dastgah. This was in a duple meter, with its ideas drawn from the dastgah and some of its guses. This is the pishdaramad, Farhad describes “pish” as pre and “daramad” refers to a section of the dastgah. Its tempo is normally moderate and runs for one to three minutes. Reng is a word associated with a dance in classical style. Reng uses melodic ideas to suggest the dastgah of which it is composed. Most of the traditional and even new rengs employs fast rhythm. Tansif is similar to reng and is associated with a vocal ballad. It has the same purpose of establishing the mode of the dastgah but this time using vocals. The last section of the concert was a combination of dance and music. Music, to the dancer, was a hypnotizing element. I could feel her soul become one with the music and her emotions unleash.Hindustani music has styles that resemble these sections of Persian music. Complementing to the importance of radif in Persian music, the main body here is composed of raga. But there are different styles in which the ragas are presented; Dhruvapad, Kahyal, Tarana, Thumri, Ghazal and Qawwali and various others that are not in practice. Ahmad denotes Dhruvpad and Khyal as the predominant styles that are now fused together. He writes the word Dhruva means something that is fixed, definite, permanent, and Pada means the verbal text. Therefore Dhruvapad is a song in which Padas, the words, are defined in a definite structure. This form of singing is associated with Natyashastra. Natyashastra is a text on the performing arts that portrays dramatic dance and art skills associated with music. The dancer portrays the sentiments and emotions of the song through expressions and movements. The emotions evoked through the dancer at the Persian concert is analogous to dance style of Natyashastra. Dhruvapad also proceeds Khayals and serves as an extensive introductory improvisation, sometimes known as alap.Khayal is the most popular form of singing, and the word itself originates from the Persian dictionary meaning dream, vision or imagination. Ahmad describes Khayal style as one that composes imaginative and thoughtful verses which are full of feelings and fancy. This has elements that overlap with that of tansif and pishdaramad from the Persian music. It is composed of two parts that are intervened by expanding cycles of melodic and rhythmic improvisation. Khayal, unlike Dhruvpad, is usually accompanied by tabla and tambura. Often performed by a vocalist, the rhythm of the melodic performance is nonmetric however the percussion accompaniment is in the form of tala. This also composes the second part of the performance after alap called antara, a secondary theme of the vocal performance. Tarana remarks the end of composition with a medium-to fast-paced longing of the same or newer song performed in the khayal. In present time this form does not have any individual identity of its own and is treated as a part of Khayal style. There was a similar ending to the Persian music concert, a fast rhythm, and tempo that was still accompanied by santoor melody.Not only the style and structure of the music show similarities in origin of the two traditions but even the deeper connection and connotation of music emphasizes the cultural interlace. There is a meaning to everything that is musical, and it could be subtle and imprecise. In her paper Exploring the mystical depths of Persian music Bahrami describes that there are several connection to mysticism and spiritualism that exist in these musical traditions. Ragas are connected to human emotions and sentiments. Music represents, some bhavas (emotions) which in association with the appropriate Rasa (interests) become music as a whole. The current musical system, the Khayal, and its associates came into being as a result of the Indo-Persian hybridization and the necessary secularization of Indian music. Ragas like some dastgahs have a particular time of the day when they are performed and function as a myth. Hamid Habibi mentioned that some dastgahs are only performed during a specific time of the year and day. Persian music too is intertwined with Persian mysticism, and as such it provokes self-awareness and self-control. Music adds cultural elements and given that Persian music is embedded in mysticism, it can connect to an existential worldview. Exploring such a worldview provoke inward awareness and a sense of self-control.During its long journey through history, Indian art and music culture passed through several stages and has been subjected to a host of external influences, regardless of which it has always maintained a profound continuity, consistency and its unique character and identity. Finding the right origin of Hindustani music is an effort in vain as it has evolved gracefully through time. One can further study on other musical features like rhythm, texture, instrumentation, timbre, etc. only to find some kinship between both traditions. It is intriguing to see how some nationalist musicologists would argue that Indian music is pure and divine and not swayed by any other culture. This argument could be made by people with polarized secular views of Hinduism. But music is something that cannot be isolated. It has been a powerful force, magnetic and enchanting that attracted the kings and the saints, the elite, and the common man, the pundits, and the mystics. This contemporary and evolved musical tradition can inspire deep and ecstatic feelings.