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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Introduction for Westerners, June 16, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Nad: Understanding Raga Music (Paperback)
Sandeep Bagchee's 'Nad: Understanding Raga Music' is one of the few books that has helped me as a Westerner to achieve a greater understanding of Hindustani (North Indian) classical music.
Even though I had been taking sitar lessons on-and-off for a couple of years, and had been to 30 or 40 Indian Classical Music (ICM) concerts of all types by the time I found this book, there were many holes in my knowledge about Hindustani music, and I was confused by the many different claims that I had read and heard about what the 'correct' ways of doing things were. Bagchee's book helped me to see that there were competing claims to the 'right' way of doing things, and that these claims were matters of interpretation.
The book goes into detail about the musical construction of ragas (by focusing on how melody and rhythm are structured), examines the different forms of vocal and instrumental classical music, describes the main gharanas (schools of music, often based around a family tradition) and the physical construction of the sitar, sarod and tabla (while also mentioning other instruments more briefly), and discusses 8 frequently heard ragas.
While Bagchee's introduction is good, there is absolutely no substitute for taking lessons from a teacher - even if the emphasis of these lessons is to achieve an understanding of how Indian Classical Music, rather than the aim being for the student to become a proficient performer.
Although I understand some of the theory of Hindustani music, I recently decided to take some lessons from a Western tabla player because I thought that he would be able to explain the rhythmic structure of Hindustani music from the perspective of someone who had to learn it, as opposed to someone who grew up with it and 'naturally' understands it. I am not learning the tabla per se, and I find that this approach has supplemented the very good sitar lessons that I have taken from a teacher who has been immersed in the music all of his life.
One of the negative aspects of Bagchee's book is that he does not mention some of the most respected and well-known sitar players such as Pandit Debu Chaudhuri and Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan (I cannot talk about musicians who play other instruments as I am not familiar enough with other instruments to comment).
In omitting to mention these musicians, Bagchee also neglects to mention the Senia Beenkar gharana, which is thought to be the 'source' or stepping-off point for some of today's most well-known gharanas and sitar players.
I find this omission suspicious and redolent of much of the competitive ideas about what is 'true' or 'valid' within ICM - the implication being that if something is not mentioned, it lacks credibility.
I am also seeking out Bonnie C. Wade's 'Music in India: The Classical Traditions' (the 1999 revised edition) as another introduction to ICM from a Western viewpoint. Vedams Books seems to be a good source of books like this.
If I could have given this a 3 1/2 star rating I would. The book is now out of print, but diligent searching can turn up copies.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Introduction to Hindustani Music, April 28, 2012
This review is from: Nad: Understanding Raga Music (Paperback)
If you have tried listening to Hindustani Music and have wanted to understand how it works, this book is for you. It is written in a very simple tone. The book does not expect any pre-requisite knowledge of music. The explanations of the various parts that make up a composition are quite helpful.
The author has successfully managed to transfer his interest and enthusiasm to the reader.

The beat structure and how the main vs accompanying artiste rhythm align to a common point is explained well. The book contains a good list of track references to further understand and appreciate Hindustani Music.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book, March 10, 2013
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This review is from: Nad: Understanding Raga Music (Paperback)
This book was for my coursework and I benefited from it. I would recommend this book to any interested person.
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Nad: Understanding Raga Music
Nad: Understanding Raga Music by Sandeep Bagchee (Paperback - July 4, 1998)
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