Thursday, August 16, 2012


 The history of a city and the history of music

 of the city are intertwined



The growth of a city like Chennai starting from a cluster of villages to become a metro city can be studied using the music that prevailed in those villages and the changes in the music accompanying the growth to the present Chennai. More interesting will be to study all current music in Chennai to segregate the weakening music from the new growing music to predict the future Chennai. This interesting link between the history of a city and the history of music of the city was found in ancient Indian texts.

Missing the musical dimension in the ancient texts

Unaware of the differences of the three words ‘oli’ (sound-ஒலி), ‘ Ocai’(sound perceived by human ear - ஓசை), ‘icai’ ( music - இசை) found in  the ancient Tamil texts including tholkAppiam, puRanhAnURu, etc , many valuable music related details and words were found missing in all commentaries , lexicon, etc. Wherever the word ‘icai’ was found, they interpreted it as meaning ‘oli’. Hence they missed the musical dimension in the grammar of poems known as ‘yAppilakkaNam’ .

The sound of letters in a song and music are related by an objective grammar discovered in ancient Indian texts. The sound of the syllables – ‘acaiஅசை - arises out of the musical sounding of the letters of the syllable. Musically defined monosyllable – ‘nhEr acai’ நேர் அசை -and disyllable – ‘nhirai acaiநிரை அசை -  lead to a phrase like significant musical substructure called ‘ chIr’ which will possess the details of the musical scale, unique aesthetic aspects including the percussion structure. This discovery is reported in

Hence chIr is not just the joining of acai as now taught in Tamil studies. It is a significant music substructure.


Valuable musico-historical detail

The failure to identify the musical significance of ‘chIr’ led to missing a valuable musico-historical detail in the following text.

paNivuil chIr
mAththirai inRi  nhatakkumEl, vAzhum Ur
kOththiram kURappatum”.

  nhAlatiyAr 25:2


  பணிவு இல் சீர்
 மாத்திரை இன்றி நடக்குமேல், வாழும் ஊர்
 கோத்திரம் கூறப்படும். "
  நாலடியார் 25:2

paNivu means obedience. paNivuil is the absence of obedience. mAththirai is the musical time measure. mAththirai inRi means not conforming to the musical time measure. vAzhum Ur means the city of living. kOththiram means the characteristic nature. kURappatum means revealed.

The characteristic nature of a city can be inferred from the music in that city.

The intertwining of Music and History

Extending the above information, the past history of a city can be inferred from the music history of that city.

In other words, the history of a city and the history of music of the city are intertwined.

The growth and decay of a city will be reflected in the music of that city. Also the emerging trends in music may reveal the emerging history of that city.

Hence the study of music history includes the musicological details which are related to the changes in the history of the place. Probably this could be extended to study an individual.

The music skills, likes and dislikes in music taste of a person may reveal the characteristic of the person. The history of a city is not only the history of the people in the city, but also the history of the music of the people in the city.

Hence the study of music history includes the musicological details which are related to the changes in the history of the place. The scope of employing the Music Information Technology (MIT) in the study will be explained in another write up.
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