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Islamic Music in an Indian Environment: The Shi’a Majlis Regula Burckhardt Qureshi Ethnomusicology, Vol. 25, No. 1. (Jan., 1981), pp. 41-71. Stable URL http: flinks.jstor-org/sici?sici=0014-1836% 28198 101%2925%3A 1 %3C41 3A IMIAIE%3E2.0.CO%3B2-T Ethnomusicology is currently published by Society for Ethnomusicology. Your use of the ISTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR’s Terms and Conditions of Use, available at bhupulwww.jstororg/about/terms.hunl. JSTOR’s Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of « journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial us. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at bhupuwww jstor.org/journals/sem. html Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission, JSTOR is an independent not-for-profit organization dedicated to ereating and preserving a digital archive of scholarly journals. For more information regarding JSTOR, please contact support @jstor.org, bupshvwwjstor.org/ Tue Oct 31 00:49:12 2006 ISLAMIC MUSIC IN AN INDIAN ENVIRONMENT: THE SHI'A MAJLIS Regula Burckhardt Qureshi his is an inquiry into the non-liturgical chant of the Urdu-speaking Muslim community in India and Pakistan,! based on a preliminary analysis of the religious assembly central to Shi'a practice: the majlis. The principal forms of Shi'a chant, soz, salam, marsiya, nauha and matam, are contained in the majlis in a more or less standard order and unified by context and basic theme. Related to North Indian classical and folk mu- sic, maylis chant is nevertheless a separate tradition characterized by its religious association. Islamic tradition generally proscribes secular music but permits re- ligious musical expression as an adornment of religious texts. Accord- ingly, majlis chant is conceived of not as music but as recitation or chant in which musical features are subordinated to a religious text and func- tion, Along with other vernacular chanting traditions, maylis chant falls into the category of nasha’id (hymns based on vernacular poetry), as against ralhin (cantillation of the Qur'an in the original Arabic). In ac- cordance with the “universality of hymns” throughout the Islamic area (Farmer 1957:441) mais chant has an essential place in Shi'a religious life. At the same time, it constitutes a major part of the musical life of a community where secular music making is generally discouraged (Qure- shi 1969: 442f, Haidar Rizvi 1941:3399), For various reasons, mainly semantic and historical, this Indian mu- sical tradition has hardly been recorded or studied. For one, it is neither part of the liturgical cantillation of the Qur'an studied by Islamicists, nor of the acknowledged categories of music studied by musicologists, and it belongs to a relatively private realm. In addition, Shi'a chant belongs to that part of Indian culture which has not been traditionally a focus for Indologists and Indophiles. The data for this study consist of a representative collection of cordings made by the author in conjunction with observation and partici- pation, mainly during 1968-69, in both India and Pakistan. The data also include interviews and discussions with performers and with informed ‘members of the Shi'a community, as well as the study of available litera- ture. The musical analysis is based on a sample of 96 chants transcribed Final version rec'd: 2/10/81 (0014 1836/81/2501-0041S1.55 © 1981 Society for Ethnomusicology In. 41 2 ETHNOMUSICOLOGY, JANUARY 1981 from this collection: 37 soz, 12 salém, 12 marsiva, 21 nauha, and 14 ‘mitam. All but a few were recorded in Lucknow, India and Karachi, Pakistan, the majority at actual majlis performances. Some are elicited recordings and copies of radio or television performances. The per- formers include professionals and non-professionals, men and women. (CONTEXTUAL BACKGROUND The People About a third of the world’s Muslims live in the Indian subcontinent Where Muslims constitute about a quarter of the total population. The majority of this sizeable Muslim community is concentrated in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kashmir, while in India Muslims are found mainly in the urban areas. Historically, the Muslim presence in the Indian subcontinent goes back to the 8th century, and by the 13th and 15th centuries Muslim king doms were established in northern and southern India respectively, cul- minating in the Mughal Empire (I6th to 18th c.) which came to encompass the greater part of the subcontinent. Muslim political domination led to the emergence of a Muslim elite surrounding the various Muslim courts as well as a class of Muslim landed gentry. Like the rulers themselves, many of these landed gentry were of foreign—i.e., Turkic or Persian—origin. The rural population of Muslim majority areas as well as many Muslim traders and professional people in the cities were generally local converts. Over the centuries a distinct Indo-Muslim culture developed. Its cen- ters were the principal Muslim courts and the cities associated with them, ‘where patronage was available and cultural standards were set. Thus, the urban centers shared in the mainstream of this culture, while regional variants developed mainly in the rural Muslim majority areas (see Ahmad 1964 for an authoritative analysis of Indo-Muslim culture). Essentially, all aspects of Indo-Muslim culture represent a synthesis of varying proportions between foreign Muslim and indigenous Indian elements. And being an elite culture, it has a distinctly supraregional character. A perfect example of both these fundamental characteristics is the Indo-Muslim language par excellence, Urdu. Urdu developed as a result of the encounter of Persian, the court language at early Muslim courts, with the North Indian version of Hindi. Since the 18th century, Urdu served as literary language and also as lingua franca for Muslims and for acculturated non-Muslims all over the subcontinent. INDIAN SHT'A MAJLIS a ‘The two major divisions of Islam are Sunnism, followed by the ma- jority of the world’s Muslims, and Shi'ism, which is concentrated mainly in Iran, The majority of Indo-Muslims are Sunni, followers of orthodox Islam, but the Indian subcontinent also holds the largest Shi’a Muslim community outside Iran. The Shi'a minority, including its various sub- sects, is scattered all over the subcontinent with concentrations in areas of past Shi'a political domination, such as Lucknow, Rampur and Delhi in North India and Hyderabad in the south, while the Bombay region has been the center of Shi'a mercantile communities. Since the establishment of Pakistan Shi'as from all parts of India form a thriving community in Karachi and also in the provinces of Sind and Punjab. In the domain of culture the Shi'a minority gained prominence through several Shi'a dynasties, especially the Awadh rulers of Lucknow. ‘Thus, since the 18th century Lucknow has been the religious and cultural center of Indian Shi'ism. Today, Karachi has become a second center where Shi'a traditions are vigorously kept alive. The Religion While accepting the basic premises of Islam, Shi‘ism is characterized by a belief in the imam principle of divinely ordained religious leadership vested in Ali, fourth Caliph and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, and in Ali’s descendents. Of these, Ali's son Imam Husain occupies a ‘most eminent position for he suffered martyrdom along with his family and followers at the hands of government army at Karbala in Ira on the 10th of the Muslim month Muharram in 680 A.D. In its religious implica- tions and its mood Husain’s martyrdom is comparable, to a degree, to the passion of Jesus. It epitomizes commitment to truth and submission to the divine will even at the cost of the ultimate in human suffering. His self- sacrifice, in order to redeem his religion and to set a supreme example to the Muslim community, makes Husain an ideal man and his family, who suffered with him, an ideal family To the Shi'a, Husainivat—a term encompassing all that Husain and his martyrdom stand for—is a central religious concept; it is also the emotional mainspring of the Shi'a religious experience. Accordingly, ex- pressing the commitment to Husainiyat is the essence of Shi'a religious practice. This is done through commemoration and eulogy, mourning and ‘even participation in the suffering of the martyrs by self-deprivation and mortification’ Each year, during the first ten days of Muharram, the events leading up to Husain’s death are commemorated and re-lived from day to day 4 ETHNOMUSICOLOGY, JANUARY 1981 ‘with growing intensity. Men march in processions, rhythmically beating their chests (mdtam) and even flagellating themselves, carrying replicas ‘of Husain’s tomb (ta’ziva), his coffin (raat), his standards and insignia (alam, panje), and his horse (duldul, zuljinah). Women wear mourning clothes and deny themselves all comforts. Many fast. In memory of the thirst the martyrs suffered, traditional cooling drinks (sharbat) are offered ‘everywhere. Muharram culminates on the tenth day (‘ashira) in a great funeral procession after which the replicas are buried in the local “Kar- bala” or under water (see Census of India 1961 for an excellent ethno- graphic account of Muharram). The institution which unifies these various observances and indeed is. at the heart of the Muharram commemoration is the religious assembly called majlis. Majlises are held universally during the ten days of Mu- harram until the final special assembly following the funeral procession (sham-e-ghariban), In addition, holding majlises serves as the means of keeping the concept of mourning alive throughout the year. In fact, the ‘mailis pervades Shi'a religious life in all spheres of society, private or public, formal or informal, high class or low, male or female, direct or media-transmitted, The Sunni majority community generally observes Muharram by ab- stinence and special prayers. However, due to Shi'a influence in the Indian subcontinent some Sunnis, too, hold majlises and ta’ziva proces- sions of their own, THE MAJLIS| The majlis is a mourning assembly for the chanting of elegiac and commemorative poetry in Urdu or Farsi. Its main and original function is to serve the expression of grief over the Karbala tragedy. At the same time it reiterates statements about the Shi'a religious universe and ac- counts of the events of Karbala (Naqi 1968:5; Saiyidain 1970:oral com- munication). Five distinct hymn forms are performed in a more or less standard order. Table | illustrates the usual format of the majlis and identifies its five main components. In this series of five hymn forms, the majlis moves through a full range of emotional expression of grief, beginning in a stylized, reflective tone and gradually growing in intensity to the final climax of mata. Depending on the occasion and the availability of performers, a majlis ‘may include several of one form or none of another; however, the basic pattern remains the same. All this takes place usually within one to two INDIAN SHI'A MAJLIS 4s Table 1: Majlis Format 1. Sor —short lament, usually expressing one emotion intensely and concisely. ‘Chanted solo with group providing a sung drone or support for the soloist. 2. Salim Salutation or eulogy, often reflective or didactic in character, consis ing of couplets with refrain. May be chanted as is soz, or without group participation (occasionally, the order of soz and salim is reversed) 3. Marsiya —elegy or heroic narrative, often highly dramatic, consisting of Gtine ‘trophes. Chanted usually by group in unison. The chanted marsia ray be followed by a marsi poem in the style of formal oratory. Hodis address or dramatic narration, Sometimes omitted in shor mailes. 4, Nawha ——irge. simple, highly expressive and lyrical in character. Coupets or ‘tropes usually with refrain, sung solo or by a group. 5. Maram —irge. simple, highly expressive but passionate, even martial in char- ‘acter. Accompanied by chest beats on the part ofthe standing audience. Concluded by responsorial calls invoking the martyrs to coatindous chest beats. Zyfrat —_ —salutation ofthe martyrs and imams in Arabic, a typeof litany chanted by a leader ofthe mails: standard conclusion of the formal assembly. 1, Salaedi—responsorial calls or benedctions; conclude every mails, hours, although a short majlis may finish in less time while during Mu- harram majlises can last through much of the night. The majlis is not normally held in a mosque but in a building or room, the imambara, which is especially designated for the purpose and adorned with replicas and insignia of the martyrs. Every devout Shi'a home has its own private imambéra (or ‘azakhana) for holding majlises, while public assemblies are held in community imambaras (or “ashur- Khana), often structures of lavish proportions. According to Indo-Muslim social custom a majlis is either for men or for women, except in the case of intimate family gatherings. During the first ten days of Muharram, holding and attending private and public majlises can be a fulltime occu pation, especially for women. To hold one's own majlis at least once during Muharram is considered religiously meritorious (sawab ka kam). ‘Majlises are continued by many Shi’as through the forty-day mourning, period after Husain’s death (chehlum) or beyond. Throughout the rest of the year they are held commonly on Thursdays, the Muslim day for remembering the dead, or on any other occasion of mourning (for de- scriptions of majlises see Census of India 1961). Performers and audience The mayjlis is one musical event where, thanks to a religious context, both professionals and amateurs perform in succession, in spite of the 46 ETHNOMUSICOLOGY, JANUARY 1981 social gulf normally dividing the two groups. Since performing at a majlis falls in the category of chanting in the service of religion, it is highly acceptable for amateurs of the “respectable” classes. By the same token it elevates the professional—normally of a low social class—at least to the level of “equality before God.” ‘Two types of professionals perform majlis chant: those trained mainly in secular music and those trained to perform religious music. The first type includes gawayye (classical singers) among men, and among women tawa’if and domni (singer-entertainers for men and women re- spectively). During the days of the rich landed patrons, and especially around the Shia court in Lucknow, religious chanting was strongly patronized, hence professional singers made it a part of their repertoire a’far Sharif 1972:178f; Ruswa 1963: 125, 294; Chaubey 1958:17). Today only a few gawayye sing soz, including one branch of Delhi’s qawwal bachche who are trained in classical singing and gawwaii (religious songs of Sufi mystics) (see Qureshi 1972:20; Jairazbhoy 1968:454). Social changes have nearly eliminated the role of the tawa’if (courtesan singers); thus, some of them now concentrate on religious singing, especially on the media and at large majlises. This holds true even more for the gomni, many of whom sing religious music exclusively. Though they lack the classical training and singing ability of the tawa’if, their traditional role as entertainers for women makes their presence in a respectable household more acceptable. The second type includes the professional majlis performers called sozkhwan and marsivakhwan, as well as the professional women reciters (parknewali). Sozkhwans and marsiyakhwans are especially trained to sing religious music. Since sozkAwani (the art of singing soz), in particu- lar, is based on classical music, a good sozkhwan has some background in it, but from a musical standpoint he is judged inferior to the gawayya, as is concisely expressed by the saying: “bier gawayyd sozkhwén" (a stran- ded singer becomes a sozkhwan). Women reciters are less specialized, hence their musical sophistication is lesser, but they are usually able to conduct a complete majlis, including the hadis (lecture). Important for both male and female performers is their dissociation from khdndant ‘gawayye, the professional musician families held in low social and moral esteem by traditional Muslim society. Sozkiwans are said to be saiyids (descendants of the Prophet), and true sozkhwani, though introduced with the help of professional singers, was established by a saiyid, the legen- dary Mir Ali Sahib of Lucknow (Sharar 1965:212ff; Karam Imam 1925: 111), who passed it on to other amateurs of respectable social back- ground. Similarly, reciting women are said to come from “poor but re- spectable saiyid families" (Mir Hassan Ali 1917:23). INDIAN SHI'A MAJLIS a Professionals normally perform in a group of at least three: one prin- cipal and two supporting singers (Sharar 1965:207). Amateurs usually perform in groups, though a good voice may chant solo as well. A recent development in majlis performance is the anjuman, a chanting society often of a neighborhood which practices and performs nauha and matam ‘with tunes in current musical taste. Their increasing popularity is indica- tive of the social changes which have resulted in lack of patronage and threaten the survival of the professional majlis performer. For, while in the last century amateurs used to imitate the chanting of the sdzkhwans (Sharar 1965:216f), they now pick up new tunes from the anjuman (Anwar Husain 1965:0.c.), ‘The audience at a majlis led by professionals participates in the per- formance only rhythmically, by beating the chest in time with the mazam chant. Where the chanting is done by family members or by an anjuman, the distinction between audience and performers is less marked and at times all may join in a matam chant. Emotionally, however, there is total participation. As the majlis wears on, the psychic distance between per- former and audience diminishes and, at the stage of mdtam, disappears completely. Mdtam represents the climax of an increasing fervor of gri throughout the majlis there is open and general expression of mourning, “groans and cries of grief. . . loud weeping . Every face is wet with tears’ (Zohra Mahmud 1940:3). -MAJLIS POETRY ‘Majlis chant cannot be considered apart from majlis poetry, for with tarannum, the chanting of secular poetry, and with other religious chant forms it shares the trait of being word-centered, as expressed by the consistent use of the verb parhnd—“to read (out loud)"—with majlis chanting (Qureshi 1969:426; 1972:15). ‘The poems underlying the chant forms of the majlis are part of a large body of religious poetry treating the subject of Husain’s martyrdom and providing the text for religious mourning. Except for works of a few outstanding Shi'a poets such as Anis, Dabir, Josh, this poetry seldom rises to high literary standards, but it does adhere to the formal conven- tions of classical Urdu poetry and its Persian models. ‘The three poetic forms used in majlis poetry are ghazal, musaddas, and ruba’i, as exemplified in Table 2. All three are part of the Persian poetic heritage of Urdu and have their prototypes in Arabic and Persian literature. ‘The ghazal may be called the Urdu poetic form par excellence; ac- 8 ETHNOMUSICOLOGY, JANUARY 1981 “able 2 Maj Poetic Forms 1. Ghat ‘rope unit: couplet abe) in ips consisting of 2 verse nes isa) thyme scheme: 99, ba. ca, det ‘hye contets deabl tye or 1070 oa) hu ty soaie nyme ck Cinoarme vad) = example: rauhe for poetic meter see Tale 3.8 for aus sing See Table 7.5) tex Ran men ich ita abe-Payanb pe uk at ego o-kftn sire Shabir pas Abs pukire Keh maa ke be 30 ‘Maul ch ghulim ka gore seg ha ABS ko shinon ke natin Kn ki kuch gh i iy mash ep jo tah ba ‘ragsaion: Inthe war such cruey was commited onthe descendents ofthe Prophet: The ‘ead body of Shab (ussn yng there without grave or shroud, Abiis cried out: Come fr Hp: Master (Husain), this servant of yours has {ale rom his ore ABbAS i at grieved over having his arms cu ff His heart brake becatse the wate spied ou ofthe waterb. 2. Masada Srophc unit: musaddas—strophe, in multiples consisting of 6 verse ies (mire) variant ‘muammassrope consisting of Ses thyme scheme: aaahb ceed, eee ‘aan abd, ceed eee ‘eampl: Marsiv for poetic meter see Tale 3.2 for musical Seting See Table 7.) text: Kyi ge bahin ke kabhi mart ain Bi arson jo ake walt ek di as [Lut Rl ek an men baron Kam a nahin bine al 5 Mit nahin jo Mh ei th ha Zainab Rone Se music kala pie hai Zainab Does aot a brother sometines die before sister? Even alter years of union there is one day of teparation, What took Yeas to acquire is ruined ia one moment When death comes it des ot go without taking ie. ‘You cannot get bck one who leaves the wor, Zainab (Husi's ster Can weeping ever make the wales teu, Zab? 3. Rabat ‘trophic unit: guaran, one ony comsiting of 4 vere ies (mira) thyme scheme: aabe mais hymns: Soe example So for poetic meter see Table 3.4) text Hamshakhe-Al ug hush a “Taswireazh, jive-wafh th ba Abisko dei to ehh pe ais ushiyr, Nusa ka kos translation: The image of Ai the resolver of problems he comes! Submision to God personified the esence of futhflnee, he comes! When hs enemies saw ABD they sid “Take teed the Go ofthe Nusa, he comes! ‘ca sect worship Al) INDIAN SHI'A MAJLIS 0 cordingly, the majority of majlis poems are in this form, including salam, ‘nauha and métam, and a few marsivé and soz poems. The ghazal consists of a number of thematically self-contained couplets linked by the formal device of a double rhyme scheme of rhyme and monorhyme (see Table 2.1), which is established at the end of both lines of the first couplet and recurs at the end of the second line of each following couplet (aa, ba, ca, ete.) ‘The musaddas is a form closely associated with the narrative charac- ter of the marsiva poem because of its more versatile rhyme scheme, lacking a monorhyme, The musaddas consists of six-line strophes with the first four lines ending on one rhyme, and the last two on another. (aaaabb, cecedd, etc.). A very similar but less common form of marsiyaé poem is the mukhammas with a five-line strophe (aaabb, cccdd, etc.) Both musaddas and mukhammas appear also in the soz, as short forms consisting of any one strophe from a marsiyd poem. The other short form associated particularly with the soz is the ruba’i, resembling the ghazal in its rhyme scheme but notin its meter. Its first, second, and last line rhyme, usually with a double rhyme (aba) ‘Soz poetry also includes the occasional gita’ (‘fragment of a ghazal), also an epigrammatic form differing from the ruba'i only in meter. The meters of all majlis poems, as of Urdu poetry in general, are derived from Persian models originating in the Arabic system of prosody Cariz). This system is based on the principle of quantity, hence its rhythmic units are the long and short syllable which are grouped into a variety of prosodical feet from two to five syllables long. The basic com- ponent of a meter is the foot: the system recognizes eight primary feet and numerous derivatives represented by different mnemonic words which express their individual composition (Weill and Meredith-Owens 1960, illustrated on Table 3). All meters are composed of a definite sequence of several different feet, or of the same foot repeated. Thus the system includes asymmetrical as well as very regular patterns. In-length the meters generally range from three to eight feet, which result in patterns between 6 and 24 syllables long. Most common are meters of four feet, ranging between I4 and 16 syllables (Bailey 1946:2£). A meter remains the same throughout one poem, except for an occasional change in the ruba'i Urdu scansion rules correspond to those of Farsi, except that in Urdu there are more “arbitrary usages of the length of a syllable" (Tsuge 1970;208), especially in Shi'a majlis poetry where prosodical standards are at times minimal, As in Farsi, the nim fateh (semi-vocalization at the end of a syllable) forms an important part of poetic scansion though itis, often not pronounced in chanting? In the poems of this sample of 96 maylis chants, 18 meters occur, but the majority of poems are set to one of six meters much used in Urdu 50 ETHNOMUSICOLOGY, JANUARY 1981 ‘Table 3: Mails Poetic Meter NOME OF METER long-short sequence (expressed in mnemonic terminology and symbol equivalence) A. Majeass 11 maf*t1un —fa"{1stun —maf"ilun— fa"tun ween fev puree foun 2. Muster 11 maf"Oly | EB*LISeu arate €5"SLun Tae panes Vea ety 3. Rak T fstuistun | extuim eee 4, sst'Gle mafi"Hlu ma fat (tubal meter we fee foe 5. mettle mafi’te maf@'Tlun | maf"Tlun | maf*San eae yeas Cele /VEre 6. Haze} 1 poetry generally and listed in Table 3. Nearly all salam, marsiva and soz Poems are set in the above meters. In contrast, nawha and matam poems show a much greater metric variety. MAJLIS MUSIC Overall style characteristics Majlis chant has certain general musical characteristics which set it apart from other musical traditions of South Asia. Essentially these are aspects of the religious function of chant which, according to Indo- Muslim concept, stand in some contrast to the secular, if not irreligious nature of music. This is in line with the traditional Muslim separation of song and chant resulting from the Islamic theological opposition to music. Included in this opposition is the censure of musical instruments for they are seen to epitomize musical enjoyment for its own sake (Farmer 1954: 817; Jairazbhoy 1968; Qureshi 1969:443, 1972:15). 1. Chant is distinct from song. Even when chant follows musical rules, it cannot admit the identifying musical feature of song: instruments. Hence there can be no instrumental accompaniment in majlis chant, though beating the chest in maram, and singing the drone in soz, represent obvious substitutes. INDIAN SHI'A MAJLIS st 2. Chant is subordinated to the text and may enhance, but never obscure any aspect of it. Hence clear enunciation of the words and main- taining their sequence are prerequisites of majlis chant. In addition, both poetic form and meter must be clearly represented in chant. 3. Chant has a functional aesthetic. In the case of majlis chant stan- dards of beauty and excellence relate to its basic function of conveying and arousing the emotion of grief. Hence aesthetic parameters associated with majlis chant relate to its effectiveness and include mainly aspeets of performance style. These are voice quality—many chant performers are valued specifically for their beautiful or expressive voice, and expressive delivery—tempo and dynamic changes, including accents, all part of a ‘good chant performer's style. The overall effect to be created by good Chant is well expressed by the Urdu word “ab (“wonderful,” “‘surpris ing,”* “strange,”* Platts 1884:759) as used for example by Dargah Quit Khan (1933-640, Form Musically all majlis hymns are strophic. The formal structure within the strophe is an adaptation of the standard pattern of North Indian clas- sical song to the formal schemes of Urdu poetry. This song pattern found in light classical, popular and folk music as well consists of two comple- mentary parts with their extensions. Table 4 characterizes these song. parts as they occur in majlis chant. All four Song parts, while different in overall outline, show a high incidence of structural similarity in the form of parallel or identical final melodic cadences. Less frequently, the same melodic material may be used in different parts with a different cadence added. Both principles of melodic unification apply particularly to the melodically and rhythmically simpler chant forms (nauha, matam). ‘Table 4: Majlis Song Pars |. asthay—establishes tonic and tonality inthe form ofthe main tune or “burden of the ‘Song. Its melodic contour emphasizes the lower octave register (pireanga, see Powers 1970a:46, 53n.42) by ether centering around the tonic or forming an arch based on it. in refrain position the asthy i often reiterated only up tothe first stressed note or wor, coresponding to the mukhyd of classical Song. 2 asthayi extensign (also called sanchayi by Muslim ustads, eg... Umrao Bundu Khan, ‘nd.)-~elaborates or expands athayi material, or party reiterates the ash 3. antaré—stands in contrast to the asthayr. It expands the tonal range of the song by ascending (0 the upper tonic and establishes the upper octave register (ut {aranga, see Powers 197a:53n-42), ls focus may also be the fifth n case of a limited pitch range 44. antara extension™reiterates or expands antara material, then leads back tothe lower ‘octave register and to the asthdyi which is alvays repeated 2 ETHNOMUSICOLOGY, JANUARY 1981 The overall formal structure of majlis chant is determined by the strophic unit of the poem and may contain from one to all four of the above classical song parts, each coinciding with one poetic line (misra’), the structural unit within the strophic unit. The length of the line deter- mines the length of each song part. The sequence of song parts within a strophe derives from the poem’s, rhyme scheme and the relative position of rhyming and non-rhyming lines in the ghazal and rubd’i, or of main and secondary rhyming lines in the ‘musaddas. Table 5 summarizes these arrangements for the different forms of majlis poetry. The following generalizations emerge: I. Except for one-tune chants, the asthdyi-antard pattern underlies all chant forms. IL. The essential structural components of the musical form, i.e.. asthayi and antard, correspond to the essential structural components of the poetic form, i.e., a (rhyming or main rhyming) and b (non-rhyming or secondary rhyming) lines. Hence the asthay/ always falls on an a line, the antara always on a b line IIL. However, all a and b lines do not become asthayi and antard respectively, depending on their number of occurrences and position within the verse. For a lines the pattern 1. an initial or single a fine (including @ refrain line) is always treated as the “burden” of the song, hence it becomes an asthay 2. an a line following another a line is treated variously, a) as a separate par, ie., a recurring “burden” of the song, hence becoming an asthayi, by as a continuation of the asthdyi, hence becoming an asthayi-extension; ©) as a concluding part of the verse, hence becoming an an- taré-extension, 3. an a line following a 6 line is treated either a) as a separate part, hence becoming an asthayi b) as a continuation of the antard, hence becoming an an- taré-extension, For b lines the pattern is: |. an initial or single b Line is always treated as a contrasting, initiating part, hence it becomes an antara;, 2. ab line following another b line is always treated as a continu- n of the antard, hence it becomes an antard-extension, INDIAN SHI'A MAJLIS 3 A formal element outside the poem is the hummed introduction in some soz establishing the principal melodic pattern and the tonic. In function it corresponds to the dlap in classical song. ‘Table S: Majlis Song Parts and Poetic Forms ‘POETIC FORM muStCAL Fo POETIC FORM | MUSICAL FORM a re lee a 2 leant nine a 2 | ante aml anh ae ue felt [amet wlth leu woot mrt |_sert mus rp roe eee mere J: ) ot ss a casehiiyt » | entars sae eteain) | mites s4 ETHNOMUSICOLOGY, JANUARY 1981 Rhythm The rhythmic structure of mays chant derives principally from the metric structure of the poem, with long and short syllables forming the basis for long and short durational units. Of these, the short time unit is the stabler one, best represented by an eighth note. The long time unit varies from twice the length of the short one (J) to melismas many times longer. Poetic meter in the different chant forms is realized musically in two distinctly different ways, representing two musical traditions (discussed below under Historical Perspective). One, typical for marsiva, salam and s0z, is a “recitative”” rhythmic style with an irregular stress pattern re- Mlecting poetic meter as well as other aspects of poetry such as word emphasis, and closely resembling the Persian dvdz rhythm. The other, typical for nauha and mdtam, is a “song” style with a regular stress pattern reflecting a combination of poetic and musical meter. Within these two rhythmic style categories the individual chant forms can be arranged in order of increasing rhythmic regularity or. equiva- lently, in order of decreasing rhythmic complexity, using examples based ‘on the same poetic meter. This arrangement, illustrated in Table 6, coi cides with the actual order of performance of the five chant forms within the majlis. The two inversely correlated rhythmic factors of regularity and ‘complexity must therefore be considered relevant to the overall rhythmic structure of the majlis as a whole. In the first rhythmic style the rhythm is free and declamatory for the long syllable is not regularly expressed in multiples of the short unit, and a regular pulse is therefore not established. While the short unit does re- ‘main fairly constant, the long unit appears in two contrasting forms. The first one is approximately twice the length of a short unit and stands in a clear two-to-one relationship to it. The second is a long note, plain or ornamented, or an extended melisma at least several times the length of a short unit and standing in no definite relationship to it. Any rhythmic pulse established by the first type of long unit, and the short unit (C1 +}). is destroyed by the second type of long unit, be it by the sheer length of a long note or by the free and fast pitch movement within a melisma. ‘The extended type of long unit figures prominently in the overall rhythmic structure of the “recitative"” rhythmic style. It occurs most regularly and prominently at the end ofa line. Within the line it may occur ‘at one or more points preceded by one or more short units. The result appears to be an iambic type of phrase formation for the line as a whole and for phrase divisions within the line, quite analogous to the Persian Goaz singing as analyzed by Tsuge (1970:223. INDIAN SHI'A MAJLIS 3s Table 6: Majlis Rhythm A.Conparison of Hhythaic Styles, in Sequence of Hajlis ree Lee en Al ie “ae Git steht bekP cee vam GEER ce PR che? of 8 wane WO > PoP Pre Bo creck fe ean — thet thet ereres 7. Nauha poetic meter: Ran} 1 musteat acer: veh rpert|mer rl aee er laee Nplting mesicel oeters aelreteprsuriiess ieee: (a) ine watt sometimes extended x cheat beate | indicates grouping of musical meter 7 Andteates grouping of poetic meter 56 ETHNOMUSICOLOGY, JANUARY 1981 ‘The factors underlying the placement of the long time unit are poetic form and meter as well as word form and content. At the end of a line the long time unit falls almost regularly on a strategic point of the rhyme system, be it the rhyming syllable or the monorhyme.$ Within the line, the long time unit may underline an important word, or mark the end of a word phrase, whether or not it corresponds with a long syllable. Cor- respondence with the poetic meter need not be consistent under such circumstances. Within this rhythmic style the soz is rhythmically the most complex form. It has the greatest number of extended long time units with the ‘greatest variability in their length. The result is rhythmic pattern with so little regularity, even of a temporary nature, that it is described by one soz chanter and connoisseur as “having rhythm only in name” (Hyder Khan 1969:0.c.). The only declared rhythmic element in the soz is the “sam, an accent at the end of the final mukhrd (Saiyid Razi 1969:0.c., see Table 7.1). This adaptation from Indian classical song corresponds to the accent provided at the end of the mukhrd by the first beat of the drum cycle, which is also termed the sam (Jairazbhoy 1970:29f). Between the salam and marsiya there is little difference rhythmi- cally. Both are based on longer poems, and they contain fewer extended long time units than the soz. Consequently, iambic rhythms composed of the short and the regular long unit (.' J) are more prominent, especially in the marsiya, while the salam tends somewhat more toward rhythmic complexity. Both forms show some resemblance to the syllabic recitative style of gawwali singing, In the second rhythmic style, the “song” style, the rhythm is regu: lated by an underlying pulse. The relationship between long and short units is always clear, for the long syllable is expressed in multiples of the short unit, usually in the proportion 2:1 ( J), but also 3:1 (J.:)) or 4:1 (4:2). More extended time units are sot part of this rhythmic style, though prolongation by a pause does occur. An essential aspect of rhythmic regularity in this style is the grouping of the underlying pulse into musical meters, whether by an actual “beat,” as provided by chest beating in matam, or by implication, as in many nauha chants. As in the “recitative™ rhythmic style, poetic meters in this style are not always realized precisely; in contrast to that style, modifications of the prosodical long-short pattern are not based on aspects of the poetry but serve a purely rhythmic purpose, namely to fit the pattern of the once established musical meter Within this rhythmic style the nauha is the rhythmically more com- INDIAN SHI'A MAJLIS 7 plex form, The absence of an external beat in the nauha does admit rhythmic irregularity in the form of pauses or lengthened notes at the end of a phrase or line. But even such irregularities tend to occur regularly as a recurring element in the rhythmic pattern of a line. Most nauhas could be chanted as matam and provided with a beat, just as any matam may be chanted without beating the chest, when the occasion is not one of strict mourning. ‘The matam is not only the rhythmically most regular form of majlis chant, it is, also the only such form with a rhythmic accompaniment. Recurring after a set number of rhythmic pulses, this beat establishes a musical meter and carries it through all lines and verses of the poem, precluding any irregularity. The main effect of the beat on matam rhythm is that it sets up a pattern of stress. Each beat acts as a downbeat on the first of each group of rhythmic pulses, thereby imposing an accentual or qualitative rhythmic interpretation on a rhythmic pattern based essen- tially on quantity, the poetic meter. In a majority of matam chants the accentual pattern fits the quantitative realization of the poetic meter with- ‘out altering its long-short pattern (see Table 6.5). In a smaller group of chants the quantitative pattern of the meter is altered to suit the accentual pattern through the replacement of length by stress, i, the long syllable becomes a short but stressed or accented rhythmic unit. This process can also be observed in secular chant (tarannum, see Qureshi 1969:441) and should be investigated for all chant and song forms based on Urdu poetry (see Table 6.6) A relevant question here is whether or not any stress is inherent in the poetic meters of the ‘ariz system. According to Weill and Meredith- Owens (1960:6751) there is historical and internal evidence to this effect. ‘They infer that the stress point of each poetic foot falls on the long syllable of its iambic core. If this hypothesis is as validly applied to Urdu as has been suggested for Persian (Tsuge 1970:226) then the accentual pattern of, ‘matam could be expected to coincide with stress points of the poetic meter. Examination of the present sample of maram has not shown any significant correspondence of this type. On the contrary, the rising char- acter of many iambic patterns is obliterated by an accent on the first short Unit, resulting in a syncopated rhythm. In general, syncopation and off- beat patterns suggest affinity to North Indian folk song and even to the use of off-beat rhythms (Gkdr) in classical music (see Table 6.7). The iambic pattern as such is much more prominent in the nauha and the forms of the “recitative"” rhythmic style, i.e, in the forms without stress patter. 58 ETHNOMUSICOLOGY, JANUARY 1981 Melody Majlis chant fits into the melodic context of North Indian classical and light classical music. This applies to the scalar and motivic charac- teristics as well as to their respective contribution to melody formation. Table 7 illustrates the melodic range of mayjlis chant in a complete majlis sequence of all five chant forms. Table 7: Mails Melody omparian ot Holeis Style, in cequnsé of Matic SSE Te mesic corm ace tte 5.4 for Pgtnate apie see ante 6.0) oscon fyett 19 INDIAN SHI'A MAJLIS 9 Table 7: (continued) = papeatig aetoty TES allot fale aoe nants 5.2 for Mytimse style bee for postic oetcr ove Tatie 345) § fant Rm bee Rt epoca RAPER 1959 0 ETHNOMUSICOLOGY, JANUARY 1981 ‘Table 7: (continued) areins MashteSostety ‘sbcen Mazes 0 Se Mtn ~ ope aotsne exentes loc eadeah fore ane Tbte 502 for porte tore eee Nvle 220) eis tte Fareed mare 3009 INDIAN SHI'A MAJLIS 6 The scales in majlis chant broadly correspond to the scale types underlying North Indian ragas. Of the commonly accepted ten scale types of classical music (;haf, see Bhatkhande 1954-9, I1:12f) all but one, tdi, are represented in the sample under study. Four additional scale types ‘occur, corresponding to Jairazbhoy’s shays C2, C3, C5, B3, and all are represented by ragas in present-day classical music (Jairazbhoy 1970:461) A clear preference appears for the diatonic ¢hays which correspond to the six diatonic modes, namely kalyan (F mode), bilaval (C mode), khamaj(G mode), kafi (D mode), asavari (A mode) and bhairavit (E mode); ninety percent of all chant melodies are based on these. In a majority of chants the scale type does not appear in its pure form bbut includes altered notes in addition to their unaltered counterparts (e.g. the khaméj scale may include a raised 7th, yaman a lowered 4th scale degree). This tonal feature, very common in Indian classical and light classical music, tends to obscure the modal character of the scale, thereby reducing its relevance as a melodic factor. The presence of alternative scale degrees can be explained in terms of their scalar function both as “leading notes” and as “balancing notes,” balancing one tetrachord with another (Jairazbhoy 1970: ch. VI, but it remains to be investigated as to whether scalar features are ultimately to be explained in terms of melodie features or vice versa Melody in mays chant appears to be built of motives rather than of scales. Within any one scale type some tunes vary widely in melodic character, while tunes of different scale types may resemble each other, notwithstanding different tonal ingredients. Hence melodic affinity seems to be determined not by the inventory of pitches but by their grouping into small melodic units or motives Larger aspects of melody structure are strongly influenced by formal characteristics of majlis chant: 1. The length of a melodic unit is limited to the smallest repeatable formal unit, the poetic line (misrd’); hence the largest melodic unit in ‘mails chant is the “tune” one line long, 2. The overall register and tonal centers of majlis chant tunes usually correspond to the conventions of the classical song parts (see Table 4); hence they tend to be limited to the ““lower-half-of-the-octave™ region for asthayi tunes and to the fifth or “upper tonic™ region for antard tunes (see Table 7.4 and 7.3). AA related aspect of melodic structure is tetra- chordal correspondence between motives or phrases, that is, the same motive may appear in a lower tetrachord in the asthayz, and in a higher one in the antard (see Table 7.3). The melodic content of the initial and final motives of a majlis chant tune tends to be consistent with their formal function, regardless of the a ETHNOMUSICOLOGY, JANUARY 1981 tune’s individual melodic or tonal ingredients. This holds true particularly for the final descending and often highly melismatic motive. This **me- lodic cadence” often recurs at the end of two or more tunes in a chant, most often asthayi and antara, or asthdyi and asthayi- or antard-exten- sion tunes. The initial motive is most prominent in the ancard, in the form of a quick ascent or upward leap to the tonal center, usually the fifth or upper tonic (see Table 7.2 and 7.1). For the purpose of melodic analysis majlis chant can be grouped into two general categories: raga-based melody—represented mainly by soz, salam and marsiya—and motive-based melody—represented mainly by nauha and matam, and also by marsiya (Table 7 contains examples of both categories) Raga-based melody exists where the melodic ingredients (motives) occur in an internally consistent pattern forming a complete melodic structure which covers all tonal ingredients in ascent and descent, also including the omission of certain scale degrees. As in the raga the tonic functions as base and point of reference for the whole structure. In a ‘majority of chants with raga-based melody the tonic is actually intoned apart from the tune, either as a continuous, sung drone (as, sur) as is typical for soz, or as an initial melodic formula as is typical for salam and ‘marsiya. The ds appears to be a substitute for the instrumental drone used by classical singers.” ‘Asa result of al its characteristics, this type of melodie structure can be abstracted from the particular tune expressing it, though in most cases the result may not actually be a recognizable raga, just a raga-like melody. The only two ragas specifically named by a sozkiwan as occur- ring in chants have been dsdvari and bhairavi (Sayid Razi 1969:0.c., see Table 7.1). However, other chants designated by him as dun ka (“with a tune,”” i.e, not a raga) all have as consistent a melodic structure as those with a specified raga tune, and many resemble ragas (see Table 7.2). Generally, raga-based melody occurs in melodically and rhythmically complex tunes, often with florid ornamentation, best exemplified by the soz chant of the professionally trained sozkhwan (see Table 7.1). But raga-based melody can also take the form of an unadorned “skeleton”- tune, exemplified by the maram chant of untrained women (see Table TD, Motivic melody exists where the melodic ingredients (motives) are only partially or not at all consistent with each other. There is no com- prehensive melodic structure, but elements of melodic structure do exist in the form of melodic correspondence between individual motives. This, includes tetrachordal correspondence which is often based on formal cor- respondence and appears prominent in the absence of other motivic rela- INDIAN SHI'A MAJLIS 6 tionships (see Table 7.3). A second type of melodic correspondence is the sequential repetition of a motive, one or more scale degrees apart, ap- pearing mainly in tonal, but also in real and inverted form (see Table 7.4). Simple, narrow-ranged tunes may consist of only the sequential extension or of modified repetition of one or two motives (see Table 7.5). The tonic in this type of melodic structure has more of a registral than a melodic function. Rather than being intoned separately, it is usually established in the asthdyi tune itself and confirmed by a related tonal center in the antara (see Table 7.4 and 7.5). In some chants the tonal base is ambivalent because of a tertial correspondence between asthayi and antara tunes. ‘Among both raga-based and motive-based tunes there are some re- curring “stock” tunes (Qureshi 1969) appearing in different versions, but they do not figure prominently within the whole repertoire of chant tunes (see Table 7.6). HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE This preliminary outline of the majlis chant tradition leads to the question of its place within the Indian musical universe. As a part of an exclusively Muslim musical idiom majlis chant is characterized by its religious function in a general way. But there is, in addition, the particular question of non-Indian musical influence brought to the subcontinent by Muslims in relatively recent times. Approaches to this question have often been clouded by preconceptions or ideology. treating it as either side of an argument about “foreign” influences versus the Indian roots of the music in question. In the case of specifically Muslim traditions as- sumptions made about pan-Islamic culture traits represent another pre- conception. A prime prerequisite for a more differentiated approach to the problem is adequate information about specific musical genres. This study has attempted to provide such information for the Shi'a majlis. In addition, dealing with the question of outside Islamic influence on such a genre requires placing it into an historical context. Shi'ism, though of Arabic origin, attained its full development in Persia after 1500, when it became the state religion under Safavid rule (Lockhardt 1953:343). In its religious implications itis termed "a Persian phenomenon” (Wickens 1953:153, also Spuler 1954:51), and ‘azadari, the well-established and highly developed Muharram mourning practices, hhave been an integral part of Persian Shi'ism (Browne 1926:149ff, Go- bbineau 1923:23ff; Sykes 1910:155; Vreeland 1957:301ff; also Harrison 1973: 136, 144 for a reference as early as 1713). “o ETHNOMUSICOLOGY, JANUARY 1981 Shiva Islam in India is essentially of Persian origin. Throughout the rule of various Shi'a dynasties—in South India (mainly Bijapur and Gol- conda, 16th to 17th centuries) and Awadh (I8th to 19th centuries)—as well as during Mughal rule from Delhi (16th to 18th centuries), the cultural links with Iran continued, especially through visits and immigration of Persians into India (Hollister 1953:ch. 7, 8; Nizami 1967:434f). Accord- ingly, any musical expression of Persian Shi’ism should be examined as a potential predecessor of Shi'a chant in India, ‘Available Persian sources point towards two contrasting chant types used in ‘azidari. The first type is a solo hymn often based on a narrative poem (marsiya) and collectively termed rauzakhwéni after a famous col- lection of Shi'a mourning poetry from the late 1Sth century (Virolleaud 1950:13, n. 1; Browne 1924:181f). Marsiyds or “lamentations” were chanted at mourning assemblies probably from the 17th century onward (Browne 1924:29, 181), and by the 19th century rauzakhwani was a well- established practice (Browne 1926:602). Marsiyas figure prominently in the Persian “passion play’ (ta'zia) which developed probably in the 18th century possibly as a dramatization of the marsiva poem (Browne 1924 29; Thaiss 1973). In these dramatizations rawzakhwans and actors trained in classical music sang marsiyds in appropriate ‘dastgahs (scale types). even using the vocal technique of tahrir (melisma, defined by Tsuge 1970: 222, reference by Caron 1968:437-38). ‘The second chant type is a group song accompanied by chest beating and performed by male processions outdoor and before ta’zia perform- ances (Gobineau 1923:123f; Caron 1968:433). Termed “cantique” by Gobineau, and nauha by Caron, this is a melodically simple and repeti- tious form with a repeated rhythmic pattern, as transcribed by Caron (1968:432f). Although the earliest available reference dates from the mid- 19th century, this song type too can probably be assigned an earlier ori- in, especially since mourning processions with “lamentations,” “wail- ing’ and “striking of the face” seem to constitute the oldest Muharram mourning practices recorded, dating from the 10th century (Khuda Bakhsh 1928:423). Available Indian historical sources refer primarily to what appear to be the same two types of chant: marsiya and matam. The earliest refer- ence to Shi'a chant in India comes from early I8th-century Delhi (Dargah Quli Khan 1949:61-66). Marsivas, both in Farsi and Urdu (rékhita, i Vernacular) were then performed solo and possibly in pairs by profes- sional marsiyakhwans. Ranked by Dargah Quli Khan between poets and musicians, they included a few marsiva poets and were either trained singers or amateurs with beautiful voices—including among them a barber (Dargah Quli Khan 1949:68) INDIAN SHI'A MAJLIS 65 Indian sources from early 19th-century Lucknow and Hyderabad as well as a French source from mid-century northern India all mention the chanting of marsiya (Mir Hassan Ali 1917:22F; Ja'far Sharif 1972:158, 160; Tassy 1869:38) followed by chest beating and “lamentations.”” Thi referred to as matam by all three sources, but whether it always included chanting to the beats is not clear. Both marsiya and matam are part of the religious assembly designated by the term majlis by Mir Hassan Ali (1917:19). For the reciters, the Persian term rauzakhwan is still used by Tassy (1869:33). According to both sources all chanting was preceded by a lecture, as in the Persian rauzakhwani (Caron and Safvate 1966:203). Reference to the present order of the majlis with the lecture placed in between marsiya and matam first appears in a late I9th-century source reliably describing pre-1857 conditions (Ruswa 1963:294). Also mentioned here for the first time are nauka and soz, with due emphasis on the artfulness and beauty of the latter (Ruswa 1963: 1240), The history and development of soz, musically the most sophis cated of majlis chant forms, has been traced in the early 20th century by Sharar (1965:211-17), mostly from oral sources, with other references supporting his account (e.g. Saiyid Razi 1969; Masud Hasan Rizvi 1969; both o.c.). This form developed from classical singing in Lucknow before or around 1800. It was established as a religious art form equal with, but apart from, professional singing early in the 19th century by its most important exponent, Saiyid Mir Ali (Azad 1967:254; Karam Imam 1925: 240, 243). The development of soz is also related to the near-simultaneous introduction of dramatic spoken declamation of the marsiya by poets like Anis (Saksena 1927:124). The nauha is mentioned only in one 19th-century source (Ruswa 1963: 125, 294), as performed probably mainly for women by a courtesan singer (tawa'if). According to Sharar (1965:215) the form also includes the unsophisticated dirge of the amateur reciter, particularly among women, as influenced by the sophisticated chanting of the male sozkhwan. The salam does not form part of any available reference, except for a couplet ascribed to the I8th-century Shi'a poet Sauda which establishes that the recital of a marsiyd was preceded by a saldm (Amir Hyder Khan 1969:0.¢.). ‘CONCLUSION The limited historical material available, together with the musical analysis, suggests that within the universe ofthe Islamic hymn (nasha'id) the institution of majlis chant is the successor to a Persian model. As 6 ETHNOMUSICOLOGY, JANUARY 1981 actual musical practice, however, majlis chant is decidedly Indian. Such ‘mayjlis traits as may be derived from the Persian tradition have been ‘modified consistent with Indian musical practice. Yet it may well be that an understanding of these traits will bring into focus what makes the ‘™majlis « unique musical tradition. A tentative evaluation of majlis chant in the light of its Persian predecessors will serve to conclude this essay and to provide a starting point for more rigorous investigations into the ques- tion of “Islamic influence.” 1. The majlis itself, as a framework for Shi'a chant, is based on the Persian rauzakhwani; but while the rauzakhwani consists of only solo- chanting following a religious lecture, the Indian majlis encompasses the whole spectrum of religious chant. This, and the integration of the lec- ture—if present at all—into the chant sequence, make the Indian majlis more truly a musical event than the rauz 2. The forms of majlis chant are based broadly on the two prototypes of Shi'a chant: the solo chant of the professional rauzakhwan—usually termed marsiya—and the group chant of the amateur accompanied by chest beating—termed nauha but corresponding to the Indian mazam. The solo chant is the source of the oldest Indian form, the marsiya; the group chant is the source of the form next in historical sequence, the ‘matam. Major Indian additions to the marsiva type are the soz and the ‘salam, both representing the musical sophistication of the Awadh court expressed in a religiously acceptable framework; the nawha may be con- sidered a secondary outgrowth of this trend (Haidar Rizvi 1941:339. Renewed contact with Iran through Persian courtiers may have contri- buted to this development, but itis not clear in which form (Sharar 1965: 10. 3. Among musical features, those related to poetry show most clearly a relationship with Persian predecessors. This is obvious since Indian majlis poetry is itself so closely based on Persian models. a. The rhythmic structure of Indian majlis chant contains elements Which seem directly derived from the rhythmic structure of the two Per- sian chant prototypes. In fact, these two types almost correspond to the two rhythmic styles of majiis chant—"recitative” and ‘'song.” The free declamatory style characteristic of marsiya, soz and saldm appears closely influenced by Persian dedz rhythm, while the regular, accentual style obviously originated with the Persian nauha (chanting with chest beating). One particular rhythmic feature indicative of Persian influence is the iambic pattern representing the alternation of short and long syllables in the poetic meters. The prevalence of this principle in the rhythmic struc- ture of soz, marsiyd, salam, and even nauha appears to correspond quite closely to the Persian dod: style. But while the Persian nauha seems INDIAN SHI'A MAJLIS 6 dominated by this rhythmic principle, and by the resulting musical meters, of 3/8 and 6/8—at least in the limited sample available (e.g. Caron 1968: 432f)—its Indian counterpart, the matam, shows an enormous diversity of rhythm, with an apparent preference for duple over triple time and also for syncopation and cross rhythms. These typically Indian modifications to a Persian inheritance actually bring matam rhythmically in line with North Indian folk song. b. The formal structure of majlis chant, apart from its dependence on the poetic form, has one element indicative of a Persian origin. Found in the soz and to a lesser extent in salam and marsiyd, it is the cadential melisma at the end of a line. Its place, function and often even its shape strongly suggest the tahrir melisma of the Persian dedz. But here too Indian modification appears, based on the Indian preference for expan- sive tonal successions as against the typical trills and pitch repetitions of the Persian tahrir melisma. c. The melodic structure of majlis chant appears Indian in tonal ma- terial as well as in tonal organization including internal structure and Grone-tonic reference. Yet, Persian magdm names are mentioned by Karam Imam (1925) and apparently were in some use among musicians of Muslim courts in India until the mid-19th century. Whether some of the individual scale types or raga-type motivic structures in majlis chant are actually based on, or influenced by, Persian magams will have to be determined in the context of Persian influence on Indian melody in gen- eral, including particularly the qawwli heritage and its links with Persian and Indian classical music respectively. 4, One more common feature between Persian and Indian Shi'a chant appears to be an aesthetic based on its expressive function, particu- larly as applicable to solo chant. Both Persian and Indian sources empha- size beauty and expressiveness of performance rather than tonal content or formal beauty of the music. Both imply that musical knowledge is important as a tool but limited by itself, as paraphrased by a legendary master: “koi tdn rone ki bhi hai?” (Can there be a melodic figure with tears?) (Karam Imam 1925:240). This aesthetic concept, echoed by Chaubey (1958:17) represents an ingredient not normally found in North Indian music but one basic to mayjlis chant and to its uniquely Indo- Muslim character. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 1 gratefully acknowledge the financial assistance ofthe Canada Council toward the field research for this study carried out in India and Pakistan in 1968-69. My sincere thanks g0 10 the many performers informants, teachers and friends who contsibuted o this study and 10 ‘my understanding of majis chant, in particular, Saleem MM. Qureshi, University of Al 6 ETHNOMUSICOLOGY, JANUARY 1981 beta; Saced Ahmad Qureshi, Lucknow; and Harold S. Powers, Princeton University. An earlier version ofthis paper was presented at the SEMAMS Meetings in Dutham, N.C.. 1970 NOTES |. The term “nontturgical"is used here in the sense of non ritual i.e, not connected ‘withthe Koranic scriptures. Conforming with indigenous classification, the term chant "Is Used in a connotative rather than a denotative sense to cover allsung’” forme af the mail. ‘regardless oftheir musical affinity with secular song (see Qureshi 1969: 426 for an expan tion of terminalog). 2. This principle difers from the inherent vocalization of consonants in Hindi poetry ‘originating in Sanskrit, so that the scansion constitute one factor of rel diference between the two idioms, Urdu and Hindi, quite apart from their different vocabulary preference 3. For acquaintance with mails music Tables 7 and 6 may be consulted in conjunction “Table 2. Each contains a set of musical examples illustrating @ complete malls se ‘quence to exemplify melody and rhythm respectively. Tables 1 1o$ supply adjunct informa tion, so that together al the tables should introduce the reader to the salient dimensions of ‘maylis chant, All examples were recorded by the author. “4. The term sanchayi seems to be a distortion of sanchiri, which, together with the ‘abhog, extends and amplifies asthdy? and antard in the classical dhrupad song form (Fox- Strangways 1914-281; Gosvami 1961:122M; for musical illustrations see Navab Ali Khan 1925, vol2). Whether asthayi and antard extensions in mails chant are functionally equiva Tent fo sanchari and abhog needs to be investigated in the larger perspective of song form development in classical Indian music 's. The same factor seems to account forthe placement of alvin the Persian dvi as discussed by Tsuge: “A tahrr may occut ona long syllable next to (or shortly before) the last. (19702222). The example cited (Tsuge 1970:211f x. 2) bears this out: the tari or ‘extended note value falls onthe chyme syllable a. Similarly, in ex. 3 (Tsuge 1970:218) the tarr falls on the penultimate sylable which isthe tyme slable in the scheme -andam 6, Of the two studies founded on the frst andthe second premise respectively (Powers 1970a and Jarazbhoy 1971), the one by Powers has abvious implications forthe study of Indian melody outside the raga system. | am indebted to ths study fr some basic concepts and terms applicable to Indian melodic structure in general 7. Some classical singers (eg. Bhimsen Joshi) have had a vocal drone provided by a supporting singe, of course in addition to the tambaird accompaniment. One singe 1 have Sung to an exclusively vocal drone is Pandit Patwardhan; whether this represents an active tradition in classical singing and isin any way linked tothe ds of sozkhdnt remains to be investigated '8Examples of this are numerous and they extend to the work of early European scholars as well, mostly in the form of anti-Musim prejudice. 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