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Text and Tradition in Early Modern North India$
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Tyler Williams, Anshu Malhotra, and John Stratton Hawley

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199478866

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199478866.001.0001

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Poetry in Ragas or Ragas in Poetry?

Poetry in Ragas or Ragas in Poetry?

Studies in the Concept of Poetic Communication

(p.129) 6 Poetry in Ragas or Ragas in Poetry?
Text and Tradition in Early Modern North India

Raman P. Sinha

Oxford University Press

In this chapter Raman P. Sinha makes a bold effort to uncover broad correlations between the verbal content of poetry that is typically set to music and the ragas in which these poems are performed—not at the level of specific compositions but in regard to a poet’s entire oeuvre. Using standard editions as his base, he deals with padas attributed to four leading Hindi poets of the early modern period: Kabir, Surdas, Mirabai, and Tulsidas. Correlating the life stories of these poets with the musical dimensions of their poetic output, Sinha comes to a number of thought-provoking conclusions. Chief among them is his observation of a reverse relationship between the variety of ragas used and the variety of life situations out of which they arise. In music as in life, finds Sinha, Mirabai and Kabir stand at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Keywords:   Kabir, Surdas, Mirabai, Tulsidas, raga, pada, music history

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