Assessing the Tuning of Sung Indian Classical Music


The issue of tuning in Indian classical music has been, historically , a matter of theoretical debate. In this paper, we study its contemporary practice in sung performances of Car-natic and Hindustani music following an empiric and quantitative approach. To do so, we select stable fundamental frequencies , estimated via a standard algorithm, and construct interval histograms from a pool of recordings. We then compare such histograms against the ones obtained for different music sources and against the theoretical values derived from 12-note just intonation and equal temperament. Our results evidence that the tunings in Carnatic and Hindustani music differ, the former tending to a just intonation system and the latter having much equal-tempered influences. Car-natic music also presents signs of a more continuous distribution of pitches. Further subdivisions of the octave are partially investigated, finding no strong evidence of them.

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