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 ESSAYS ON MUSIC

Edited by PREM LATA SHARMA

 

2010, 153, Preface, Introduction, ISBN 81-7304-611-5, Rs. 500 (HB)


 


These essays were published in a few books, journals, etc., mostly in the early years of the twentieth century. Coomaraswamy held that music in countless ways had been bound up with the Indian national culture, for it was the most universal expression of emotion-religious, amorous or martial. Music belonged to every part of life. The flute of Kṛṣṇa, the vīṇā of Sarasvatī, the dance of Śiva, the Gāyatrī as cosmic chant or music of the spheres; the hymns of passionate adoration of the southern Śaivite, all these belong to the association of music and religion.

In addition to the art of music, Coomarasway lays great emphasis on the folk songs of agriculture and crafts. This music is serving to lighten heavy labour, such as the songs of husbandmen, carters and boatmen. Music remained too intimately associated with religion, with drama and with life, whether courtly or popular and was faithfully guarded by tradition.

Coomaraswamy was much against the harmonium and gramophone, when compared to stringed instruments; even the piano, he held, was an inferior instrument. Every time these mechanical instruments were used in place of man, the Indian musician was degraded, his living was taken from him and the group soul of Indian life injured. Among musical instruments, he gave pride of place to the vīṇā.

He firmly believed that the importance of music in education can hardly be overestimated. He bemoaned that foreign (English) education had paralysed the living impulses of lndians, and driven India to a state of social disintegration. He advocated that the restoration of Indian folk and art music to its proper place in Indian education would result in the understanding of the self-expression of India in her music.

 

 


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