Additional Book Information
Series: New York Review Books
Publication Date: September 15, 2020
Finding the RagaAn Essay
Finding the Raga is more than a book that tries to make sense of the raga, of Indian classical music, and of how Indian music challenges Western notions of what music might be. It is a work of self-inquiry, as might be expected from Amit Chaudhuri, a musician who is also a novelist; a novelist who is also a critic and essayist; a trained and recorded performer in the Indian classical vocal tradition who was also, once, a guitarist and songwriter in the American folk music style and is now a composer and recorded performer in experimental music. Each one of these undertakings and selves signifies turns at different points in life, and each turn and change of direction brings a fresh perspective on music, writing, and what it means to take on and do these things. No category—Indian, Western—is a given in this book. Partly a record of one of the most important turns in the author’s life, toward North Indian music, and of its long aftermath, Finding the Raga is also part autobiography set in 1970s Bombay, part essay, and part detailed analysis of how we might grasp the conceptual underpinnings as well as the experience of music. It explores the different ways in which music relates to the world—whether it’s through representation or evocation, as in Western music, or through the raga being sung at different times of day and in different seasons, as in Indian music—and also tries to understand what the act of listening involves for individuals and cultures.
Amit Chaudhuri excels in writing about music and its pleasure.