Vedic accent in taittiriya samhita

Madhav Deshpande mmdesh at UMICH.EDU
Sat Jan 22 16:13:18 UTC 2000

Bharat Gupta has given a good description of the musicalized recitation of
the TS and the microtonal gaps between different notes.  There is no doubt
that the current recitation of the TS, especially in south India, is far
more musicalized, as compared to the recitation of the same Samhita in the
region of Maharashtra, where the musical distances between Udaatta,
Anudaatta, and Svarita are much smaller.  Historically, it seems to me
that a certain distinction must be made between the musicalized renderings
of the Vedic accents, and the Vedic accents as described by Panini and
Praatizaakhyas.  Particularly, in the case of Panini, his description of
accents is not limited to Vedic, but the same accent rules apply to all of
Sanskrit derived by his grammatical system, and even contemporary dialects
of spoken Sanskrit differed in regional accents (cf. P's rule: udak ca
vipaaza.h).  This being the case, it is more reasonable to assume that the
Accents of Sanskrit (including Vedic and Bhaazaa) were, by Panini's time,
not musicalized as yet, except of course in the case of the Saamaveda.
The high and low distinctions of accent/pitch are only relative highs and
lows, while the default middle range itself fluctuated from person to
person.  This is why Patanjali and the Praatizaakhyas describe high and
low accents not in any absolute terms, i.e. by their exact correlation to
any specific musical distances, but they say that these high and low
distinctions apply within a given register (samaanayame) of a given
person, and this register itself may differ from person to person.
        It is indeed the case that Saamavedic Zik.saas like that of
Naarada relate different accents to notes of a musical scale.  However,
this correlation occurred most likely in the Saaman traditions, and not in
other traditions.  Even the Naaradazik.saa (1.3) says that the Udaatta and
Anudaatta differ only by one note in the RV recitation, they differ by two
notes in the recitation of the (more musical?) Gaathaas, and they differ
by three notes in the Saaman recitation.  Thus, the RV (and possibly the
YV and AV accents as well) were originally not musicalized at all.
However, with the loss of accents in the classical language, the
musicalization of Vedic recitation steadily progressed over time.

                                Madhav Deshpande

On Sat, 22 Jan 2000, Bharat Gupt wrote:

> > 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
> >
> > [Krishna Kalale]  The letter with a vertical line on top - is known as
> > udAtta (high note)
> > The letter unmarked is svarita (middle note)  and the letter with a
> > horizontal line (like a minus sign) below it is known as anudAtta.
> >    (lower note)
> > Krishna Kalale
> Broadly speaking the Anudaatta, Udaatta and Svarita svaras of Rgveda paatha and the
> Saam, including the Taittiriiyapratitshaakhya, as heard today, can be equated with Ni,
> Sa, and Ri of the North Indian Kafi scale (Kharaharapriya of the Karnataka melas).  This
> means that Horizontal line in written text indicates the Anudaatta, unmarked is Udaatta
> and the vertical line marked is Svarita.  This is  contrary  to  what is found written
> in the book mentioned by Prof. Spier.
> All the modern scholars and recorders of Vedic chants from Fox- Strangways (1914) have
> noted that in musical pitch Svarita today is higher than Udatta. Not only the vertical
> line indicates it but in some recitation tradition the reciter raises his head up to
> indicate the rise of pitch of Svarita and brings it down to indicate Anudaataa.
> The saying "samaahaarah svaritah", has often led to the belief that Svarita lies in
> between the Udaatta and Anudaatta. Hence it has also been interpreted as the circumflex
> note, in which the pitch rises and then falls down even to Anudaatta. But that is only
> part of the general tradition of rendering in Indian singing, recitation or paatha,
> Vedic or Laukika.  The notes are always used not by jumping from one to another but with
>  a glide. These glides becomes gamaka and other alankaaras in secular music.
> The point of pitch to which the Svarita goes is the definitional location of the svara
> called svarita and this pitch is higher than that of Udaatta.
> The Paniniya "samaahaarah svaritah" is to be understood not in terms of the pitch of the
> note in comparison to the pitch of Udaatta, but in terms of the musical interval on the
> scale, that is to say, that while Udaatta is a four s'ruti(microtonal interval) note,
> Anudaata is a two s'ruti note, the Svarita is a three s'ruti note. The example as above,
> Sa, Ni and Ri respectively.
> It may also be noted that Abhinavagupta has elaborated on the samaahaar by explaining
> the s'ruti intervals.
> For a very detailed survey of nearly a hundred years of research and recording of chants
> , it may be useul to refer to THE SAMAN CHANTS BY GH TARLEKAR, 1985 Indian Musical
> Society, Baroda and a review of it by me in Journal of the Sangeet Natak Academy, March
> 1987. Number 83.
> Bharat Gupt

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