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Music and ConsciousnessPhilosophical, Psychological, and Cultural Perspectives$
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David Clarke and Eric Clarke

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199553792

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199553792.001.0001

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North Indian classical music and its links with consciousness:

North Indian classical music and its links with consciousness:

the case of dhrupad

(p.137) Chapter 8 North Indian classical music and its links with consciousness:
Music and Consciousness

David Clarke

Tara Kini

Oxford University Press

While the seemingly new Western discipline of consciousness studies wrestles with its problems of definition and methodology, it is salutary to note that consciousness has been a near continuous concern — in both theory and practice — in Eastern cultures for much of their history. This chapter argues that Indian classical music both emanates from and is able to instil deep states of consciousness, and that it is discursively grounded in ideas about consciousness consistent, even if not coterminous, with concepts from longstanding Indian philosophical traditions. It focuses on North Indian (Hindustani) classical music, since the authors of this chapter themselves are practitioners in this field. While they both practise the khyāl vocal style, and draw on this here, the principal case study examines the older style known as dhrupad, since this most powerfully illustrates the cultivation of deeply meditative states. Such states can be most notably located in renditions of ālāp — the improvised opening phase of a rāga performance that is common to dhrupad, khyāl, and other styles, but is especially developed in dhrupad.

Keywords:   consciousness, music, Indian classical music, Hindustani classical music, dhrupad, khyāl

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