Thursday, August 1, 2013

Raga presentation in Hindustani music

In contemporary (post-Dhrupad) Hindustani music, the musician works with the composition and the improvisatory movements as distinct musical elements. His task is to integrate them seamlessly into a composite and well-organized musical experience. It is therefore not possible to see the two elements as claiming different shares of the duration of a Raga presentation. 

Because the composition is already pre-composed, it requires minimal composing effort from the musician. The improvisations, on the other hand, require a fairly intense effort at interpreting the Raga in the format of a movement. One can therefore see the two elements as taking up different shares of musical energy. 

Viewed in this manner, the pre-composed element in modern Hindustani music may take up less than 15% of the musical energy, with the improvised element consuming the remaining 85%. In the medieval Dhrupad genre, however, the pre-composed element can consume over 60% of the musical energy. Evidently, the enlarged scope for individual creativity has been an important feature of the transition from Dhrupad to post-Dhrupad music.