Research - Motivation


Dr. Vidyadhar Oke   Einstein had said, "I want to know the God's thoughts, the rest are mere details". In the same spirit, I decided to decifer the principles underlying the 22 basic musical sounds or Shrutis cited in Indian Music. To understand the concept of 'Shruti', one would have needed the necessary background on the physics of sound, the physiology and psychology of human hearing, the history of music, and the mathematics of tuning systems, which, as a student of science and medicine, I was fortunate in having. Being a harmonist, I had also witnessed the painful though just allegations on the instrument about it's 'tempered' tuning leading to it's unsuitability to the Indian Classical music. So much so, that in spite of the stalwart Indian vocalists accepting Harmonium as an accompanying instrument, All India Radio had banned the use of Harmonium in 1940. The ban had lasted for 30 years!

True, that Harmoniums were tuned to the 12 tone Western Equitempered (ET) scale and all the notes were not 'Indian'. The precise difference in the 2 scales however, was not conclusively demonstrated. ET scale was well documented but what was the 'original' Indian scale like? What were the precise locations and frequencies of 22 Shrutis? Forget the Shrutis, what were the precise locations and frequencies of 12 Swaras in the Saptak? How far were they from the ET scale? How could we investigate and document the difference between the Indian and Equitempered scales? Could the 22 Shrutis be calculated, demonstrated and played accurately? And, could these be used to transform Harmoniums with ET scale to the 22 Shruti-Indian scale? Why even 1 musical instrument has not been created in India to play 22 'standardised' Shrutis? These unanswered questions posed a big challenge as the problem was unresolved for thousands of years. This served as a tremendous motivation for me to explore and dissect the subject in pursuit of the hidden answers and to create 2 new musical instruments which provide a standardized accurate display of 22 Shrutis.

Musical notes are definite 'Sounds.' Sounds are based on definite 'Numbers'. And, 'Number' can be the only ultimate language of logic and any principle. 22 Shrutis therefore had to be demonstrated with precise frequencies arising out of a perfect mathematical principle.

After 3 year research, I was able to

1. Discover the 'Musimatics' or the underlying Musico-Mathematical principles and the accurate ratios governing the precise generation of 22 Shrutis, and their inter-relationships.

2. Document the precise differences between the Equitempered notes and the 22 Shrutis.

3. Develop and demonstrate a simple method to play and hear these 22 Shrutis on the electronic Synthesizer.

4. Demonstrate using the ancient Galileo's law, at what precise points on any string (of any length and tuned to any Shadja), these 22 Shrutis can be accurately played.

5. Create the world's only and a specially designed harmonium converting it to a "22-Shruti-Harmonium", perfectly suitable to Indian Classical Music.

6. Create the world's first "22-Shruti-Metallophone".

Now, the 22-Shruti-Harmonium can be easily played for rendering of various Ragas in the Indian Classical Music. 22-Shruti-Metallophone shall provide 22 Shrutis precisely even to a novice. These instruments will ensure that the Vocalist / Instrumentalist is using the naturally consonant Shrutis deliberately and accurately, thus elevating the Quality of Vocal and Instrumental Solo performances and the standard of education of music in India.

This research work hopefully will put an end to the longstanding and tedious dialogue on the existence and the nature of 22 Shrutis in the Indian Classical Music.

I am thankful to the Almighty, my Gurus, and all the people who helped me in this project.

- Dr. Vidyadhar Gopal Oke

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