An Annotated Bibliography of Indian Music

Art Levine, Murali Sharma, John Campana


1. Introductory Books and Recordings

Misc. editors

The New Grove Dictionary of Music, entry on India

Availability :any library

Description of contents: Most easily accessible, excellent introductory article with plenty of references. Only handicap is the lack of accompanying recorded material. Covers both Hindustani and Carnatic

Bonnie Wade

Music in India, the Classical Traditions

Riverdale reprint of Manohar edition 1987

Availability :South Asia Books

Description of contents: Introductory text with comparisons to western analogs, oriented towards the western reader. Both Hindustani and Carnatic music are covered. Chapters on melody, melody instruments, the meter, rythm instruments, and various performance genres.

Good introduction.

Ravi Shankar

Learning Indian Music, A Systematic Approach

Fort Lauderdale (they publish books there?) circa 1970

Availability: out of print, try libraries

Description of contents: 3 cassettes + book boxed set Whether or not one likes Ravi Shankar's music, I imagine everyone will admit he knows it about as well as anyone else. It is a treat therefore to listen to his well thought out introductory course. There are about 48 lectures on these cassettes, and one is encouraged to learn the Indian way: i.e. by listening and practising. The material covers all the major ideas in a substantial way with very beautiful examples.


Neil Sorrell and Ram Narayan

Indian Music In Performance, A practical Introduction

New York University Press

Availability:out of print, try libraries

Description of contents:The aim of this set is to enable the reader to appreciate the components of a performance. The book includes introductory material on Hindustani music, its sociology, some gossip from Ram Narayan, and musical examples played by him. It would help to be able to read staff noatation. The material is a small subset of what is covered in the previous set and the cassette not very well organized since there are no verbal explanations on the tape and one has to read the examples off the book.


Author:Anupam Mahajan

Ragas in Indian Classical Music

Publisher:Gian Publishing House, India

Availability : South Asia Books $20

Description of contents: Book + cassette with illustrative examples by Asad Ali Khan and Mushtaq Hussain Khan (Veena and Sitar)



Music Appreciation

Label:Music Today, 1992

Availability:Shrimati's, $10

Description of contents: Three cassette set

This is in the form of a narrative essay with interpolating examples. An interesting feature is the use of portions of commercially released pieces as examples. A drawback is that all these are drawn from the earlier releases on this label; it is hard for a novice to understand subtleties when they are played on completely different instruments in different styles. Thus, there is somewhat of a 'sampler disc' approach in places, but is useful all the same if only to get familiar with the jargon.



Ashok D. Ranade

On music and musicians of Hindoostan

Description: 208 p., <1> leaf of plates : ports. ; 23 cm.

Includes bibliographical references, discography, and index.

New Delhi : Promilla, 1984.

This book is divided into two parts. The first part a series of papers and works on Hindustani Music. The second part is a set of biographies of India musicians of yore, such as BGAK,Vaze, Abdul Karim Khan etc. In the first chapter, the author introduces a novice to the concepts of art and literature, and how Indian Music evolved along with other art forms. He also highlights the some important aspects of the learning process itself(the guru-sishya parampara) and why things happened that way.


Inayet Khan & Jessie Duncan Westbrook

Hindustani Lyrics, 1995

Availability: Motilal Banarsidass, or try South Asia Books, PO Box 502, Clumbia MO, 65205 USA. Tel:(573)474-0116


Also available from Motilal.

Allyn Miner. Sitar &Sarod in the 18th and 19th Centuries

Stephen Slawek. Sitar Techniques in Nibaddha Forms

VM Kulkarni. Some Aspects of the Rasa Theory


Shankar, Ravi.

My music, my life. With an introd. by Yehudi Menuhin.

New York, Simon and Schuster <1968>

An autobiography byone of the men who put Indian music on the western map. Includes material about his training, some basic theory and a sitar primer.

2. Intermediate and Reference Material:

Bonnie Wade

Khyal, Creativity within North India's classical music tradition

Cambridge University Press, 1984

Availability: out of print, try libraries

Description of contents: A very thorough (the genealogical charts include entries for male, female, and sex unknown) study of Khyal. Apart from a definition of the genre, includes a study of the major gharanas: Agra, Gwalior, Rampur/Sahaswan, Alladiya, Kirana, Patiala, as well as those inbetween houses, such as Amir Khan. The major distinguishing traits of a gharana as well as its main representatives are analysed, some in considerable depth. An accompanying cassette includes selections that are analyzed in the text with a modified western notation, as well as pictorial depictions of taans etc. Good historical information and genealogical charts as well. Essential reading for anyone interested in Khayal.


Indurama Srivastava

Dhrupada, A study of its origin, historical devp.,structure and present state

Motilal Banarasidass, India, 1980

Availability:Out of print ?

Description of contents: One might preconceive this to be a biography of the Dagar family, but it is a solid study of dhrupad, its origin, the verbal content, the musical structure,and the practitioners. Since Dhrupad must be the most alien of all the Indian musical forms to the uninitiated, worth studying to understand the complexity behind an apparently simple sounding music.


Peter Manuel

Thumri, in historical and stylistic perspective

Motilal Banarasidass, 1989

Availability: South Asia Books

Description of contents:The literary aspects of thumris, their historical origins, stylistic analyses of the Bol Banao and Bandish thumris, the role of taal, dadras, instrumental thumris, interrelationships between various thumri ragas.


N.A. Jairazbhoy

The Rags of North India

Lok Virsa Pakistan,(also Faber and Faber, Britain)

Availability : out of print

Description of contents:Although not quite 'introductory', I found this book very useful reading because of the uniqueness of the approach. (The information about intonation particularly, cleared up much of my confusion). There is an emphasis on 'as practised' rather than on theory, and an attempt is made to systematically classify ragas. Again it would help to be able to read music (i.e. staff). An example disk by Vilayat Khan is included with an appendix analyzing these pieces.


B.Subba Rao

Raganidhi, A comparative study of hindustani and karnatak ragas

The Music Academy, Madras, India, 1964

Availability:Cycles in and out of print; only from Karnatic Music Book Store Description of contents:Short discussions of pretty much all ragas, including a comparison of similar ragas within the system, and also between the two systems. The discussion includes the aroh-avaroh, pakad and sometimes also standard compositions.


Michael Kinnear

A Discography of Hindustani and Karnatic Music

Greenwood Press,1985

Availability:In print, about $ 80

Description of contents: A comprehensive discography, covering mostly the LP era. Comments: Art Levine provides the information that Kinnear is currently involved in a project to put out releases from the first few decades of sound recording in India, with concurrent releases of such archival recordings.


Shiv Dayal Batish/ Ashwin Batish

Ragopedia Vol I

Publisher:Batish Records

1310 Mission St.

Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Year of Publication:

Availability:about $35

Description of contents:A short introductory section defines basic terms: thaat, jati, vadi samvadi, poorvang uttarang, rasa etc. Next, Sargam notation is explained in terms of staff. A short chapter explains the construction of a chalan from the ascending and descending patterns and dominant subdominant note information of a raga. Chalans are then given for five ragas. The rest of the volume is an alphabetically arranged sequence of ragas, with the names of their thaats, the traditional time of play, the dominant (Vadi) and subdominant (samvadi) notes, and the ascending and descending scale patterns in staff and sargam notation. Planned future volumes include Karnatik ragas, as well as chalans in English etc. Comments: Its main virtue is its ease of availability in the U.S. and the use of staff notation for the scales. For a reference work, a complete absence of references indicates either extraordinary originality (which we don't want here) or unreliability. Since no information is given about where the authors got their information from, or what their training is, difficult to go out to bat with this book.


Author:Chetan Karnani

Title:Listening to Hindustani Music

Publisher:Orient Longmans, India

Year of Publication:


Description of contents:Essays of music criticism.

Comments:The author is a vocalist, and a music critic. These essays deal with various performers (such as Mallikarjun Mansur, Amir Khan, Nikhil Banerjee (a great article on Nokhilda), Ali Akbar Khan) and other general topics (contrasts between western and Indian music, status of music criticism etc.). Very entertaining and informative. The author has made a conscious attempt at being 'modern'; a lot of the criticism is technical and specific rather than emotional and vague. Must read.  


Wayne, Howard

Samavedic chant

New Haven : Yale University Press, 1977.


Gottleib, Robert

Solo Tabla Drumming of North India

(2 vol + tapes) $68

I just bought this for $59 at a local Indian book store. It is a fine resource. Gotleib has collected tintaal recordings from historical performances of several leading figures in four gharannas: Ustad Wajid Hussain, Ustad Inam Ali Khan, Ustad Karamatullah Khan, Pandit Kishan Maharaj, Ustad Habibuddin, and Ustad Alla Rakha. He has transcribed these tapes completely using a western style notation. He has also provided commentary to these recordings, histories and geneologies of the gharannas in North India and Nepal, and basic details of the tabla and musicology. I believe that these volumes are well worth the money for either the serious conniseur or the serious student of percussion. My opinion.  


Jha, Ramashraya ("Ramrang").

Abhinava Geetanjali.

Sangeet Sadan Prakashan, 88 South Malaka, Ilahabad. Durbhash:54973.


Here's my pick for the best publication on Hindustani music. 3 volumes, totalling ca. 750 pages, surveying 77 rags (counting the four type of Patmanjari as separate rags).

Volume 1, 262 pages. 3rd edition, 1989.- 15 rags:

Shyam Kalyan, Shuddh Sarang, Devgiri Bilaval, Yamani Bilaval,

Bhatiyar, Puriya Kalyan, Bilaskhani Todi, Gurjari Todi, Maru Bihag, Chandrakauns, Jogkauns, Sur Malhar, Madhuvanti, Ahir Bhairav, Hansadhvani, (Rag Mala)

Volume 2, 255 pages. 3rd edition, 1991.- 30 rags:

Suha Kanhra, Nayaki Kanhra, Shahana, Devsakh, Ramsakh, Bavsakh, Lachchhasakh, Kafi Kanhra, Kaushik Kanhra, Abhogi Kanhra, Maluha Kedar, Jaldhar Kedar, Sindhura, Patdeep, Hanskinkani, Pradeepaki, Barwa, Bhim, Bhim (type 2), Palasi, Rageshwari, Dhani, Gopika Basant, Gandhari, Devgandhar, Khat, Jhinjhoti, Gara, Tilang, Mand, Pahadi

Volume 3, 237 pages. 3rd edition, 1991.- 32 rags:

Narayani, Gorakh Kalyan, Khambavati, Janasammohani, Kalavati, Jog, Nand, Jait Kalyan, Shukla Bilaval, Kukubh Bilaval, Sarparda Bilaval, Nat Bilaval, Hamir Bilaval, Hemant, Durga (Bilaval thaat), Pratap Barali, Bihagra, Nat Bihag, Pat Bihag, Chandni Bihag, Miyan ki Sarang, Madhamad Sarang, Lankadahan Sarang, Samant Sarang, Badhans Sarang, Jaitashri, Saraswati Sarang, Patmanjari (type 1), Patmanjari (type 2), Patmanjari (type 3), Patmanjari (type 4), Basant Mukhari, [8 Thumris]


A couple of factors make *Abhinava Geetanjali* outstanding. First, many of the compositions are superb, both in terms of the way they reveal the face of the rag, and for their sheer rhythmic interest.

You'll also note that many of the rags are well into the aprachalit (rare) category. But the thing that really makes this set great is the very detailed discussion of the rags themselves. Just to cite one example: the discussion of Khambavati in vol. 3 consists of a 9-page essay and includes, among other things, a detailed treatment of the way each individual swara is to be handled. I am not aware of any other book that comes close to this. Certainly nothing in English.  

And there's the rub, as they say. Armed with a good Hindi-English dictionary and a reading speed of about three words per hour, I and the rest of the angloid contingent can basically make out more -- or less -- what Mr. Jha is talking about. But pulling teeth, or what.  

So to a statement and a question. Statement: of all the books I know of written in Hindi on the subject of Hindustani m., this one is the most valuable both from a theoretical and compositional point of view, and so is most worthy of being translated into English. Question: would anyone be interested in having a crack at one of the essays, just so we can have the translation as a "model" for what a discussion of rag really can be. And of course, in saying this, I don't at all mean to take away from the value of the more "thumbnail" sketches provided in such books as Kaufmann, Raganidhi or lately, through the efforts of Murali and John, in rmic. So, any takers for a pioneering translation project? I, for one, would be eternally grateful.  


Sambamoorthy, P.

Elements of Western music for students of Indian music / P.

Sambamoorthy. -- Madras : Indian Music Pub. House, [1961?]


Gautam, M. R. (Madura Ramaswami), 1924-

Evolution of raga and tala in Indian music / M.R. Gautam. -- New

Delhi : Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1989.


Prajnanananda, Swami.

A historical study of Indian music / by Swami Prajnanananda. -- 2nd

rev. and enl. ed. -- New Delhi : Munshiram Manoharlal, 1981.


Sunil Bose

Indian Classical Music

Vikas Publications, New Delhi, 1993.


Rita Ganguly

Bismillah Khan and Benaras

Siddhi Books, New Delhi, 1994

Delhi : Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1989.


Pradip K. Sengupta

Foundations of Indian Musicology

Abhinav Publ., New Delhi, '89.


Pandit Kumar Gandharva

Anupragvilas, Vol. 1 &2 ( in Marathi))

Bombay, 1993


Kumar Prasad Mukhapadhyay

Khudarat Raag Birangi (in Bengali)

This book is supposed to contain exceptional ustad anecdotes and profiles.


B.R. Depdhar

Pillars of Hindustani Music

Popular Prakashan, Bombay, 1993.

Superb anecdotes on various music greats, including Moujuddin, Gauharjan, et al.


Ashok Ranade

Keywords and Concepts: Hindustani Classical Music

Promilla, New Delhi, 1990

Precise and insightful definitions and explanations.


Thomas Marcotty: The Way Music (How to Conjure with Sound): Rudra Veena: The Theory and Technique of Tantric Music. With C-90 cassette

Decisio Editrice, Lugana, 1980


Zia M. Dagar: Pancham Kauns

Asit Kumar Banerjee: Malkauns

Asad Ali Khan: Marwa

Asit Kumar Banerjee: Todi



  Graphic Design, Eric Parker and Assoc. Ltd., Copyright 1997
  All text Copyright respective authors, 1997. All Rights Reserved
  Original concept and inspiration, John Campana.
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