The other day, a friend asked about a raga we were both learning: Hemant. She wanted to know what time of day or night it was meant to be sung. I whipped out my copy of the Ragopedia and looked under "H". We had the answer in a matter of seconds: a midnight raga.
I have refered to this beautiful volume many times. As the name suggests, it is designed for easy reference, and it works. It doesn't matter if you've been trained in the Indian or Western tradition. Ragopedia displays all Indian ragas in both sargam and Western staff notations. It is written entirely in English.
The opening pages explain the basic concepts of Indian music in simple easy to understand terms. Both Indian as well as Western terminology is used.
The book is produced and packaged attractively. The front and back cover feature full color illustrations, and the spiral binding makes it easy to open the book to any page.
If you are serious about Indian music, a copy of Ragopedia from the Batishes is a must. Without a doubt, a valuable addition to any Indian music lover's library.
Why attempt to resurect it here? Well, I found it lingering around the Net and thought it would be good to include it in here, in RagaNet. This way I can atleast address some of the issues raised. Past attempts at presenting these corrections have not been heeded by the maintainer/author?
Some of the answers to questions raised by the unknown reviewer are addressed by links to areas of our web pages that I hope will cover these issues. Many of the chapters of the Ragopedia are offered for study in our Archives
1310 Mission St. Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
Year of Publication: 1987
Description of contents: A short introductory section defines basic terms: thaat, jati, vadi samvadi, poorvang uttarang, rasa etc. Next, Sargam notation is explained in terms of staff. A short chapter explains the construction of a chalan from the ascending and descending patterns and dominant subdominant note information of a raga. Chalans are then given for five ragas.
The rest of the volume is an alphabetically arranged sequence of ragas, with the names of their thaats, the traditional time of play, the dominant (Vadi) and subdominant (samvadi) notes, and the ascending and descending scale patterns in staff and sargam notation. Planned future volumes include Karnatik ragas, as well as chalans in English etc.
Comments: Its main virtue is its ease of availability in the U.S. and the use of staff notation for the scales. For a reference work, a complete absence of references indicates either extraordinary originality (which we don't want here) or unreliability. Since no information is given about where the authors got their information from, or what their training is, difficult to go out to bat with this book.
A point well taken in the review was on the fact that there is a lack of references in the book. But this is also a non-issue with Indian music. It is a very "Western" thought and ideal. But this is changing. Indian authors are increasingly listing referencing sources in their books and I do agree it is good practice.
Traditionally, training received from a guru in itself was, and still is in many instances, the only source of reference a diciple considers valid. My father's teacher "guruji Chandan Ram Charan" was a well revered and respected composer and a leading authority in the Panjab/Delhi area. In the years of his studies with his guruji, he learnt many ragas. He doesn't recall any music books at that time. You didn't have to. Books didn't prove the informations validity because books never attempted to "teach" the raga. Indeed many hold written music incomplete and void of the true spirit. But I do respect this view and listing has its merrits. Besides, we did refer to many volumes and prior authors in creating Ragopedia and the authors of these works deserve credit and mention. We have adopted this proceedure for all future works we publish. Here then is our bibliography.
We plan on having copies of most of these works available for sale through the Institute's book store. Please call or email us for availability.
Ashwin Batish Editor
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