The Making of the Musical World - A Story in Sound - Andrew Killick

The Making of the Musical World - A Story in Sound - Andrew Killick

South Asia: Another Tree in the Wood

The Making of the Musical World - A Story in Sound - Andrew Killick

Andrew Killick [+-]
University of Sheffield
Andrew Killick has been teaching and writing about the world’s music professionally since 1998. His passion for all forms of music has led him literally around the world, including studies at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Hawaii, and the University of Washington, periods of fieldwork in India and Korea, and teaching at Illinois State University and Florida State University before taking up his current position at the University of Sheffield in 2003. Originally trained as a classical pianist, he also plays the Korean gayageum zither and an English bagpipe, the Northumbrian smallpipes. His academic publications include two books on Korean music topics, about twenty refereed journal articles and book chapters, and substantial contributions to the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music and the Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World. In his spare time he likes to compose “rounds” in a wide variety of musical styles.


A series of chapters on Asian cultures is introduced, once more, through music that will already be familiar to many readers. In this case, our point of entry comes from the Beatles’ song “Love You To,” which uses not just the instruments sitar and tabla but many structural elements of Indian classical music as well. These elements are then studied in their original context, exploring the workings of rag and tal in a way that builds on the earlier discussion of melodic and rhythmic modes in Middle Eastern music. A new theme emerges in the use of the drone, for although drones are present in some musical cultures discussed already (for instance in the bagpipes of Europe), it is arguably in Indian classical music that the drone principle has been exploited most fully, and it was through the exposure of that music to the West in the 1960s that drones became a common device in some kinds of popular music and film scoring. India’s international influence also includes the prestige of North Indian classical music as a high-status tradition in nearby countries like Afghanistan, the spread of “Bollywood” film music to many parts of Asia, and the development of the bhangra genre by South Asians living in the UK. On the other hand, the Indian tradition itself has been partly built on imported elements: to speak only of instruments, the sitar and tabla have ancestors in West Asia while the harmonium, a common instrument for accompanying singers, was derived from European models. Thus, India can be seen as a separate “music tree” with roots and branches of its own, one that has grown more or less independently of the American popular music tree discussed earlier. The same is true of China, as we discover next.

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Killick, Andrew. South Asia: Another Tree in the Wood. The Making of the Musical World - A Story in Sound. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Sep 2022. ISBN 9781781793411. Date accessed: 12 Aug 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.27329. Sep 2022

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