Key processes in the oral transmission of hindustani vocal music

Andrew Alter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The transmission of Hindustani music is carried out through a process of oral transmission in which teachers instruct their students largely without the aid of writing or notation. Many pedagogical strategies have been developed by musical practitioners to cope with the oral-aural communication which is inherent in this process. Such strategies are not only important to the student but also to the teacher for whom the act of teaching becomes as much a part of the tradition as performance. This paper examines the teaching strategies of a well respected teacher of Hindustani vocal music and identifies the aspects of his pedagogy which appear to be shaped by the orality of the transmission process, Structures which are observable in the music during transmission display numerous characteristics which are attributable to the oral nature of the tradition. Undoubtedly these characteristics became elements of the tradition which also appear during performance. Ultimately structures within a musical performance can be seen to be intrinsically linked to the very processes of the oral transmission itself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-83
Number of pages23
JournalMusicology Australia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


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