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Gamaka and Alamkara : concepts of vocal ornamentation with reference to Bara Khayal

McIntosh, S.M. (1993). Gamaka and Alamkara : concepts of vocal ornamentation with reference to Bara Khayal. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


This research explores questions relating to ornamentation in North Indian classical vocal music with particular reference to ba1khayil. At a technical level it addresses the question, "What is 'ornamentation' in khayal.?" and subsequently approaches the question, "How does ornamentation transform simple melodic ideas into aesthetic experiences?" The study re-examines the possible origins and evolution of khayl as a context for subsequent examination and analysis of ornamentation in performance practice. The study examines the components of rga structure in two stages; Chapter II discusses the tripartite structure of ruti, svara and phrase with reference to the sastraic tradition as well as to twentieth century sources. The components are found to represent different levels of melodic activity. The discussion is continued in Chapter III where additional components of rga are introduced. 'Ornamentation' proves to be inadequate as a term to describe the many aspects of melodic movement which take place in performance. Consequently this term has to be redefined in the context of khayil and the problem of terminology addressed. The study shows the presence of an accumulative process whereby components of rãga, including gamaka and alaipkra, work at different levels. Their combination expands simple melodic ideas thus creating the melodic texture of performance. Transcription and analysis of a three-level demonstration of ãipa illustrates this process. Additional aspects of gamaka in relation to phrasal structures are subsequently discussed. The last two chapters expand the frame of reference for the discussion relating to amaka and alaqikira. Chapter VI relates the findings of the foregoing chapters to the musical context of lãpa while Chapter VII discusses gamaka within a wider cultural context.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts > Music
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
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