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MĀTRĀLAKṢAṆAM
(KMS No. 1)

Text, Translation, Extracts from the commentary, and Notes 
including References to two oral traditions of South India

Edited and translated by WAYNE HOWARD 

1988,  xvi,+98 pp., musical notations, bibl. indexes, ISBN: 81-208-0585-5, Rs 150 (HB)


The publication of this volume has laid the foundation of the IGNCA's programme of publishing fundamental texts of the Indian traditions in original with translations. The importance of this text is enhanced by the fact that it represents two very important śakhās (recensions) of the Sāmaveda - Rāṇāyanīya and Kauthuma-on chanting. The contents of the Mātrālakṣaṇam are of fundamental importance because this is perhaps the first text to discuss the concept of a time-unit measure (mātrā). The importance of mātrā as measure with mathematical syllabic time value of vowels in their aspects of elongation, tempo, pitch and interval cannot be understood without taking into account sound as measure. In delineating the semantic relationship between syllable and letter, vowels and consonants, it lays the foundation of disciplines today recognized as phonetics, linguistics and prosody. Equally important is the discussion on sound and notes, in doing so it is a proto fore-runner of the "modal" system of lndian music.

As an exacting system of oral articulation and recitation this text was used for recitation with hand gestures like ārcika. In relating the articulation of sound with body language, gesture, especially hands and fingers, the system of orally rendering a text according to its manuals, provides the basis of the emergence of a structure of artistic expression through the body (viz. āṅgikābhinaya). In more senses than one Vedic intonation is a precursor of both theory and practice (śāstra and prayoga) of the arts, in their original framework of interrelatedness.

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