Vedic accent in taittiriya samhita

Bharat Gupt abhinav at DEL3.VSNL.NET.IN
Tue Jan 25 16:54:41 EST 2000

Vidyasankar Sundaresan wrote:
> I wrote earlier:
> >If the Sruti references are to
> >musical intervals, udaatta is four Srutis away from which note? And
> >anudaatta is two Srutis away from which note? It is quite standard to say
> >that Sa is four Srutis and Ni is two Srutis, but here the references are
> >automatically to the previous note in the octave. To elaborate, Sa is four
> >Srutis away from Ni, and Ni is two Srutis away from Dha. Even if the
> >recitation has increasingly become musicalized, is it valid to apply
> >concepts based on an entire octave to a recitation scheme that involves a
> >much more restricted range of pitches?
> To further clarify my query, given that pitch values are being associated
> with the terms udaatta, anudaatta and svarita, there can be only two
> intervals among three notes. The absolute pitch of one note has to be
> arbitrary, and the other two can be defined relatively. That is why I am
> puzzled how any sense can be made out of assigning 4, 2 and 3 Srutis to
> udaatta, anudaatta and svarita.

Let me put it this way: If the Vedic svaras or tones are to be called or defined as
svaras, then they cannot  be defined as a units of three  (as in Rk paath.a) or four but
only as a saptak (in western terms the octave where the tonic is counted twice). There
can be no Shadja unless there are six other notes or no Madhyama if there are no three
notes on its either side.  Similarly, the three tones called Udaatta etc., were located
on to the Gandharva scales (muurcchanaas) to give their descriptive nature. This was
never an exact description as the pitch of Udaatta etc., varied from Shaakaa to Shaakaa
( as you yourself pointed out).

As the Vedic tones (as I tried to indicate in another post also, the one to Prof
Deshpande) are given Gaandharva names only for comparison, hence the s'ruti comparisons
follow. The tris'rutic rshabha or dhaivata (the svarita) was equated with the
charactersitic of vacillation or kampan. Perhaps a pratice more ponounced in the times
of Abhinvagupta who mentions it.
It seems that the Vedic scales were quite distinct in origin and practice (and were also
deliberately kept so to keep them away from Laukika music) but they had to be compared
for some reasons. My surmise is that the vina (harps in that age) players who
accompanied Vedic chants needed to know the Gaandharva notes. There msut have ohter
reasons too, the research in still very scanty.

Bharat Gupt

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