Vedic accent in taittiriya samhita

Madhav Deshpande mmdesh at UMICH.EDU
Wed Jan 19 12:11:31 UTC 2000

The written accentuation of the TS is not very different from the RV and
basically the same rules of prosody apply.  There is a reason for
misunderstanding the syllable with a vertical line as Udaatta, because
Udaatta is supposed to be the high note.  In reality, the syllable with
the vertical line above is always a Svarita, the syllable with the
horizontal line underneath is called Sannatara, a prosodic transformation
of the Anudaatta, and the unmarked syllables are either Udaatta or a
variety of Anudaatta.  The ancient recitational traditions recorded in the
Praatizaakhyas make it clear that the Svarita is not a middle pitch, but a
composite syllable with an initial Udaatta segment followed by an
Anudaatta segment.  This initial portion of the Svarita, according to a
number of Praatizaakhya traditions is uttered as Udaattatara, higher than
the pitch of the Udaatta.  Similarly, an Anudaatta syllable before an
Udaatta becomes Sannatara, lower than the normal level of Anudaatta, and
is marked with a horizontal line underneath.  Thus, the written notation
captures the "higher than the high Udaatta" nature of the Svarita's
initial segment with a vertical line above, and the "lower than Anudaatta"
nature of the Sannatara syllable with a horizontal line underneath.  The
unmarked Udaatta and Anudaatta syllables are often not distinguished in
recitational pitch, both collapsing into a middle pitch, a sort of default
from which one moves up (for Svarita) and down (for Sannatara).
        However, since most reciters do not know the rules of accents, and
carry a belief that the high note is Udaatta, mid note is Svarita, and the
low note is Anudaatta, a mistaken belief about Svarita as Udaatta does
result.  Hope this explains some of the confusion.  Best,
                                        Madhav Deshpande

On Tue, 18 Jan 2000, Harry Spier wrote:

> A chanting book I have of the Rudram from the Taittiriya Samhita with an
> accompanying tape of Brahmin Priests from that school reciting the text
> agrees with the description by Wayne Howard (in Vedic Recitation in Varanasi
> page 191) of the musical realization of the Taittiriya school.  I.e. in
> relation to the pitch of unmarked syllables the syllables that have an
> underline are a major second below in pitch, and the syllables marked with a
> verticle line above them are a minor second above in pitch.  But in the
> introduction of the chanting book where it describes the names and meanings
> of the vedic accents it names the accent indicated by a verticle line above
> the syllable (which Wayne Howard and everyone else I've heard calls svarita)
> as udAtta.  It names the unmarked syllables as svarita, and the syllables
> with an underline as anudAtta.  The exact quote of the accents description
> in the introduction (in Hindi) is as follows:
> I'm using HK convention (& indicates chandrabindu,M anusvara):
> udAtta [it shows a picture of akara with a verticle line above it here]
> (sirapar khaDI) svar ke tIna bhedeM meM se ek ; U&cA svar |
> anudAtta [it shows a picture of akara with an underline here] (nIce ADI
> lakIr) udAtta kA ulaTA; nIcA svar |
> svarita [it shows a picture of akara with no accent marks here] (cinharahit)
> udAtta aur anudAtta ke bIc kA; madhyam svar |
> Is the naming of the accents in this chanting books introduction an error or
> by a vertical line above (and chanted as a high note) are called udAtta and
> unmarked syllables (chanted as a midnote) called svarita?
> My main interest is not so much the issues about these accents that Wayne
> Howard discusses on pages 93 to 106 of "Vedic Recitation in Varanasi" i.e.
> the original meaning of udAtta, anudAtta and svarita, but rather "Today what
> would a Brahmin priest of the taittiriya samhita school call the accent
> marked by a vertical line above the syllable and chanted by him as a high
> note, and what would he call the unmarked syllable chanted by him as a
> midnote?"
> In other words "Is the naming of the accents in the introduction of this
> chanting book an error?"
> Many thanks in advance,
> Harry Spier
> 371 Brickman Rd.
> Hurleyville, New York
> USA 12747
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