Music in India by
Music arises when dissonant sounds are made to sound in unison. Musical variety consists of the various attempts of people to open their multicultural and multidimensional souls to the world and express them through the musical tradition of a certain culture.
Perhaps we may best begin by taking a glance at folksong, where we are not cumbered by any theory or convention. We know our own: it is a little square in structure compared with the more fanciful Irish, homely compared with the adventurous Highland Scot, of extended compass compared with the French songs, which are almost talked, naďve as compared with the sophisticated German, smooth compared with the angular Scandinavian, cheerful compared with the melancholy Russian, busy compared with the leisurely Italian, vocal compared with the Spanish, in which we hear the constant thrumming of the guitar.
In India the plains and the hills seem to contrast. In the plains we hear the Irish fancy, chiefly rhythmical; an ultrasmoothness which creeps from note to note scarcely risking a leap of any kind, and, like the French, with a short compass thoroughly well explored; lugubrious, not unlike the Russian according to our views though not perhaps according to theirs, for that is a thing that foreigners never can really judge; decidedly leisurely, as one expects in a country where kal means both yesterday and to-morrow; and purely vocal, without a hint of the influence of any instrument. In the hills it is more cheerful; the steps become leaps, the rhythm is accented, though it has not so many resources; it is as busy as you could wish, almost breathless in its excitement; it is pure singing, revelling in the sound, though one song is very much like another. But there is one characteristic of the hill tribes which should be noticed: they sing in the pentatonic. We think at once of the Scottish Highlanders and the Swiss yodelers and say it is the mountain air that makes these invigorating leaps in the melody; but when we find these same leaps equally in the plains of China and among the Sioux along the Missouri we think there must be some other explanation. Perhaps it is that instruments are not easily to be had in the mountains; for it is the instrument that first makes possible the division of the tone into two semitones. At any rate, whatever the reason, the fact is that the pentatonic, though not confined to, is characteristic of the Himalaya.
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