european musical instruments in India

jacob.baltuch at jacob.baltuch at
Thu Mar 27 19:46:59 UTC 1997

>On Thu, 27 Mar 1997, Jacob Baltuch wrote:
>> Re: early (1800s) violin "technology" found in Carnatic violin. Is the
>> bow different from the usual bow? Bow type changed radically in Europe
>> around 1820.

Just a correction. I was partially mistaken. The bow changed less
abruptly that I was implying. The concave shape of the bow was invented
as early as 1770-1780 by one of the Tourte (Francois?) I believe the screw
mechanism was introduced by Francois Tourte around 1820 give or take 10 years.

In any case plenty of time, as Vidyasankar Sundaresan pointed out.

One point I didn't see mentioned re: the adoption of violin (and not
of other European instruments). Maybe what also favored it was the
fact that it can play in any tuning, not only the equal-tempered one
(unlike say the guitar or European wind instruments)? Sure, individualities
are key, but one can also ask, why did only the violin find such
individualities while other Euro. instruments didn't. Note the violin is
also the only European instrument adopted into classical Arabic music.

I would assume (although I couldn't myself say) that Indian violinists
take advantage of this capability & play the ragas correctly, which they
don't do on electronic keyboards. (Although if they really wanted to go
thru the headache they could. There are MIDI keyboards which can download
tuning tables from say a computer or a sequencer. Or maybe in the styles
of music which would tend to adopt synthesizers one shouldn't expect
musicians to worry too much about shrutis)

And one can also ask, was there a specific empty niche the violin found in
Carnatic music? Was it experimentation for the mere joy of experimentation?
(With then lasting results)

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