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Tristan von Neumann

Junior Member
Posts: 17
Reply with quote  #1 
Hi Indian music friends,

I'm currently researching early Indian musical influence in Europe. It seems there is indeed some things we might have overlooked.
(Wouldn't be too weird, since the Portuguese were there already 500 years ago)

In the wake of that research, I may have finally answered the question why certain music of the early 17th century sounds weird and uses beat patterns of 5 or 10. I am quite certain that this Sonata by Giovanni Valentini is based on a Carnatic Raga:

But which one? It would have to be something like Neethimathi, but I could be wrong. It should be a Raga that has the possibility to shift between two tonal centers that are both a "minor" mode, and are one minor third apart. In this case, the Ga should be in a shruti that can be seen as a high Ri or a low Ga. (to facilitate something like enharmonics, as in the Sonata).
Or is this maybe a Ragamalika? I don't know the history of those, and how they really work.

Feel free to listen to some experiments I have done over the last months. (Beware though, they are pure mashups with just pitch adjustment in the European part - I dare not change the pitch of Indian Music)

If anyone here is from South India or very familiar with the cornucopia of Carnatic music, I would very much appreciate any cooperation in identifying Ragas of suspicious pieces.

Peace! T*

PS: I attached a photo of Marin Mersenne's description of a Rudravina (though without frets, which were probably lost on the voyage). It's from 1636.

Attached Images
png Rudravina - Marin Mersenne - De Instrumentis Harmonicis (1636).png (528.32 KB, 4 views)

Tristan von Neumann

Junior Member
Posts: 17
Reply with quote  #2 

It seems that Melakarta 69 "Dhatuvardhani" fits the requirements!

But alas, there is no recording to be found that lasts long enough to be merged with the Sonata.

Does anyone know where to get this?...
Tristan von Neumann

Junior Member
Posts: 17
Reply with quote  #3 
Finally, I found the Raga in question.

It seems to be Jaijaivanti.

What a peculiar Raga it is - it shifts between two tonalities by using Komal Ni and Komal Ga in descending scale.

If someone has any doubt about the choice of Raga, I would be happy to be referred to an even better one.


Junior Member
Posts: 18
Reply with quote  #4 
Hi Tristan,

this is a very interesting research you do, greets form a fellow German. That Indian influence should be purely in melodic movements and rhythm, as it does not have a harmonic movement? So rather on the surface, not in the deep structure?

About the search for fitting rags: As far as I know, Jaijaavanti is maybe not old enough to be the right one. And the right one from that time is maybe not known or traded nowadays, or under a different name, as ragas are ever changing entities (Pilu may have been some Kirwani-like thing in the past, Bahiravi was very different etc. - this ongoing confusion about ragas and their historical development is to be expected in a mostly oral tradition).

A good read about the class of ragas that often use these lower accidentials in descent is Peter Manuels "Thumri in historical and stilistic perspectives", recommended. Don't know but hope it is available somewhere/in good libraries.

Best, Ingo
Tristan von Neumann

Junior Member
Posts: 17
Reply with quote  #5 
Thanks Ingo,

as for Jaijaivanti:
It should be assumed though that found Ragas were in circulation a long time before mentioned in theoretical works of the time.

In this case, Jaijaivanti is even mentioned in Tansen's Budh Prakash, which survived as a Persian translation.
So I assume, it existed in the 1630s.
It also fits perfectly to the Sonata, so I assume it is the right one.

Do you know if there are special rhythmic motifs associated with certain ragas, or are the motives only typical for a tala?

My research is not only to find Raga music in Europe, but it has also become clear to me that the change of European Music to harmonic tonality is in fact the reception of Indian Music.
The "Musica Reservata", exclusive private music that could per contract with the musician and the ruler not be published for some time.
I suspect that special Indian music arrangements were the cause for the secrecy, as it is extraordinarily striking, especially when you consider a musically non-contaminated enviroment as in the 16th century.

A publication about the Herwich Sonata and first probable Indo-European cooperation is under way and should be available to read in a few months hopefully.

Here is what I could associate with Herwichs works.
Yaman is "Ruggiero", the pentatonic ascent of today's Yaman still works and gives a nice flavor. I used the Jhala because in combination it makes clear how dissonances are resolved properly according to European rules (which by 1600 were those of Indian music).

Thanks for being interested!

Tristan von Neumann

Junior Member
Posts: 17
Reply with quote  #6 
I forgot to answer this:

Here's a word about "purely melody and rhythm".

Indian Music is not monophonic, it has hidden polyphony and harmony!

It may not be heard by Europeans that easily, but Indian musicians have a very refined way to play harmonics with just one voice.
This is done by the many ornaments and also by certain melodic movements of the Ragas.
I'm sure you noticed this. Just playing the basic notes doesn't create much color.

Also, the Tabla is a tonal drum, the two drums are tuned to the basic notes - this is like a Bass accompaniment.
The tanpura gives additional harmony directly and via the overtones augmented by soloist.

Listen to this sonata by Dario Castello - it is just melody and rhythm, the additional harmony is emphasized by the guitar, but it is implied in the violin voice.
This style developed only after 1600.

Before the discovery of India by colonists, travellers and merchants, European music was made of equal voices each in their confined range of Descant/Alto/Tenor/Bass to produce a full harmonic equilibrium.
It also was thought of as a continuous flow of voices, not a (hidden) cyclic variation/climax. Many pieces were composed along Gregorian chant or characteristic snippets of it.

In 16th and 17th century Europe, there wasn't as much noise and music contamination as today, so I assume they heard the harmonies of Indian music too.

Listen to this solo (!) traverso flute (an instrument very similar to the bansuri back then, though not made of bamboo).
It is composed as polyphony. The higher notes are the descant voice, the lower notes are the bass. Yet, there is only one voice playing it.
The connection is made by our perception of closer notes being heard as belonging together.

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