Music in India during Vedic Period


Vedic Period 

It is supposed that the Vedic Period in Indian Subcontinent was supposed to be started in 3000-1500 BCE.However, nobody knows the actual date and time of the Vedic period. As per the mythology, it is believed that Vedic period was establish with the origin of Veda and it is supposed to be hundreds of thousand of year ago. The First Veda was The Rigveda and have compiled with thousands of Verses. The other Veda were Atharva Veda, Yajurveda and the Samveda. Among these four Vedas, Samveda is highly associated with music and musical terms. The early chanting of religious hymns was noted around 3000 BCE. The scientific analysis of the early music come to existence with the origin of RigVeda. The Literary and music tradition from this period in Indian Subcontinent. The Hindu and Sanatan Dharma- A compound belief and faith on god says that the text of the four Vedas were imparted to the sages by Lord Brahma, the creator of the Universe in the form of Spoken words and have been handed down from generation to generation in oral tradition. The Vedic scholars mesmerized in reciting the spiritual hymns of the Veda in the form of rise and fall of the tonality in much systematic and disciplined way. These rise and fall of the tonality and the recited verses of Rigveda are known by the Udat- Anudat and Swarit. Udat means the high notes or the taar, Anudat means the Mandra or the Low notes and the Swarit means the the Samata or the middle or the Madhya. According to the present swar system Rishav and Dhaivat are Udat, Gandhar and Nishad are Anudat and Shadaj, Madhyam and Pancham are Swarit notes.

The chanting Nada “Oum" or "Om" was considered as the basic note of the music. The Samveda was the first religious text in Indian Subcontinent to address the music as the singing component of verses and hymns of the Veda for religious and spiritual purpose. The recited verses of Samveda was called Samgaan. The Statotra and the Richas of the Vedic literature were sung during the period. The swar of Samveda was named as Yem and the name of the notes are Udat-Anudat and Swarit. The Musical octave was created with the ascent and descent of the the Yem. The Musical scale of Samgayan was the primordial in the history of Indian Music. In fact the transition from chanting to singing was a slow process so the music octave was slowly created with seven notes following the Shada Gram. It is the emergence of Solfa terms is said to be that, Sa and Ma (Shadaj -Madhyam) from Samveda, Ri and Ga (Rishav-Gandhar) from Rigveda, Dha and Ni (Dhaivat and Nishad) from Upanishads. The Concept of SA Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni and SA as the musical syllable is considered as an important and major turning point in the history of Indian Music in Vedic period and these seven notes are mentioned in the Narada Parivrajak Upandishad. These Musical terms and the name of Swar are found in the seventh century Kudumiya- Malai Inscription too.

The Vedic Literature were sung in three notes and different meters with aesthetic sentiments, accompanied by different musical instruments. Veena, Flute, Mridangam along with Khattaal and Shankh were used as the supporting instruments in Samgaan. The tone of Vedic music, Archik were in a descending series where as those of the the Desigeet and Laukikgeet, that evolves in the parallel of Vedic period were in ascending order. Sometimes the accent notes Anudat Swarit and Udat were mentioned in the Shikshas and Pratishikshas as to be used in the Saam as tone of seven Vaidik and Laukik Swar.

It is said that the Samveda is the fundamental sources of Indian Classical Music. The spiritual and religious Samveda is further divided in two part called as Purvavarchik (Pri-Phase) and Uttararchik (Post-Phase). Again the Purvavarchik is divided in two parts called as Gramegeya Gaan and Aranyege Gana, and Uttararchik divided into two parts called as Uha and Uhya. The Samgaan of Samhits and Gaan was further divided into six or seven categories, and they were Hunkar means the beginning of the singing, Prastora- means the person or the religious guru to begin the Sama, Udgita- means the repetition of the saamgaan or the accompaniment of tune; Pratihara- means the process of singing of Saam after third verses; Upadrawa-means the sing at the end of third verses; Nidhan-means the sacrificial priest during the end of Saam and the seventh one is Pranava- means conclusion of Saam with Omkar Dhwani.

In the gradual process of development of musical concepts during post Vedic period, various alteration had been noticed to form the Gram and its Murchan. It is believed that the three Gram- Shadaj Gram Madhyama Gram and Gandhar Gram were altered with Udat-Anudat and Swarit in Post Vedic Period to form the musical scale. Some of the opinion has defined that the Vedic scale was as similar as the Kafi thaat of Hindustani Sangeet or the Kharaharpiya of Carnatic Mela. Few of the Opinion refers that Vedic Scale was as similar as the Bhairavi or Hanumattodi Mela but all these these are only the hypothetical concepts. In fact, it is very difficult to identify the real musical essence and ascertain the exact melodic structure during Vedic period.


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