Publications by the founder Emmie te Nijenhuis

Complete list of published articles (here)

Recent new book:


with two audio cd-s in one box; VI, 192 pages, 4 colour plates, size 24 x 34 cm, paper-bound, ISBN number 90-806447-1-4, Sarasvati Bhavan, Naarden, The Netherlands.

This book is an anthology of varnam compositions of traditional South Indian composers, written in staff notation with special symbols indicating the melodic embellishments. Although a varnam is originally a vocal composition, I preferred instrumental vina performances as a basis for my notation, because on this South Indian lute the melodic and rhythmic details and especially the techniques of ornamentation are very clear. For the musical notation of these elements the reader may consult my article Notation of South Indian Music. The two audio cd-s accompanying this music book contain three preliminary excercises and twenty varnam compositions performed by famous vina players plus an unabridged vocal version of the well-known varnam Viriboni.

You may compare the sound with the notation, while listening to the following music example: Sami ninne kori in raga sri and tala adi, composed by Karur Cinna Devudu and played on the vina by Vinai Ranganayaki Rajagopalan (CD I: no. 10; notation: Varnam 9, p. 107). (If music does not start with notation then download music file here.)



Paccimiriyam Adiyappayya, Pallavi Gopala Ayyar, Vina Kuppayyar, Maharaja Svati Tirunal, Vadivelu, Tiruvotriyur Tyagayyar, Kottavasal Venkatarama Ayyar, Maha Vaidyanatha Ayyar, Patnam Subrahmanya Ayyar, Ramanathapuram Srinivasa Ayyangar and Karur Cinna Devudu.


Vinai Ranganayaki Rajagopalan, Savitri Rajan, Mysore V. Doreswamy Iyengar, Karaikudi S. Subramanian, R. S. Jayalaksmi, D. Balakrishna, Jeyalaksmi Kalidas, Suguna Varadacari and K. G. Vijayakrishnan.


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Other books by Emmie te Nijenhuis:

Dattilam: A Compendium of Ancient Indian Music. Introduction, Translation and Commentary (PhD. Dissertation), Brill, Leiden 1970 (
This work is a study of the terminology of ancient Indian musicology as handed down in an early medieval Sanskrit treatise on music. In the elaborate commentary the present writer has translated and compared relevant passages from well-known ancient and medieval Sanskrit works on Indian music, e.g.: Bharata's Natyasastra, Sarngadeva's Sangitaratnakara, etc. For the benefit of Western readers who are not familiar with the Indian scripts, all Sanskrit words in the text and the commentary have been transliterated into Roman characters. (For technical reasons the punctuation above and below the Roman characters is not visualized on the web page.) The advanced theoretical concepts of Sanskrit musicology, such as tone system (grama), mode (jati), melody (varna), melodic figure (alamkara) and musical metre (tala), represent a forgotten ancient musical culture to which the numerous musical scenes depicted in the sculptures and paintings of Indian art bear ample testimony.

Indian Music: History and Structure (Handbuch der Orientalistik 2, 6), Brill, Leiden 1974.
This concise textbook intended for students of Indian musicology shows the historical development of some major aspects of the Indian music, that is to say, tone-system, musical temperament, melody, rhythm, musical metre and compositional form. This book is out of print, but a second revised and enlarged edition is in preparation.

The Ragas of Somanatha, 2 vols., Brill, Leiden 1976 (
The early 17th century Sanskrit author Somanatha belongs to a generation of musicologists who were familiar with two musical cultures. For more than two centuries Indian as well as Persian musicians had performed side by side in the Muslim courts of India. In his Sanskrit treatise Ragavibodha, written in 1609 A.D., Somanatha explains 51 raga in the traditional Indian way, mentioning the modal characteristics of each of these melodic forms. He illustrates his definitions with short meditative poems (dhyana), visualizing the emotional expression of the melodies. He shows the outline of the raga in music examples provided with special symbols indicating melodic ornamentation techniques of the contemporary bar-cither (rudra-vina). In classifying his raga this musicologist uses the contemporary South Indian scale categories (mela), but instead of resorting to the conventional division of the octave into twelve semitones, he introduces seventeen pitches resembling the seventeen tones of a temperament described by the 13th century Persian theoretician Safi al-Din.
In vol. I: History and Analysis, the present writer compares Somanatha's musical definitions and poetical descriptions of the raga with those of earlier and later musicologists, thus presenting the analysis of the various melodic forms in a historical perspective.
In vol. II: Musical examples, Somanatha's music examples are transcribed into staff notation. In the key to this transcription Somanatha's Sanskrit definitions of the playing techniques (vadanabheda) corresponding to his 23 graphic symbols are explained and these 17th century vina techniques are compared with playing techniques of the modern South Indian lute (sarasvati-vina). The additional modern music examples - short raga preludes (alapana) performed by various 20th century sitar and vina players - prove that the melodic characteristics of some 17th century raga forms have been preserved in modern North and South Indian music practice.
An audio-cd containing private recordings of the modern music examples is in preparation.

Musicological Literature (History of Indian Literature edited by J. Gonda, vol. VI, fasc. 1), Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1977 (
This handy little booklet is a historical survey of the Sanskrit musicological literature, based on works of which editions in the original language and translations into English or any other European language were available in 1977. The present writer has summarized the contents of these works and, whenever possible, indicated the social setting in which they were written.

Sacred Songs of India: Muttusvami Diksitar's Cycle of Hymns to the Goddess Kamala, by Emmie te Nijenhuis and Sanjukta Gupta, 2 parts (Forum Ethnomusicologicum III), Amadeus Verlag, Winterthur 1987 (Amadeus Verlag, Iberghang 16, CH 8405 Winterthur, Switzerland, Fax 0041.52.2332042) (
In The Netherlands available at Broekmans & Van Poppel, Amsterdam (
This co-production of two specialists is a musicological and religious study of a cycle of eleven hymns to the Hindu goddess Kamala, composed by the famous 18th century classical South Indian composer Muttusvami Diksitar.
In Part I: Musicological and Religious Analysis, Text and Translation, Dr. Sanjukta Gupta explains the religious and literary background of this cycle of hymns, which was especially composed for the nine phases (avarana) of the Tantric ritual. In this religious analysis of the eleven hymns - a meditative (dhyana) introductory hymn, nine main songs of devotion and and a benedictory song of conclusion - the Sanskrit texts of the hymns are translated into English, transliterated into Roman script and commented by Dr. Gupta and accompanied with symbolic Sri-yantra drawings by Dr. Paul van der Velde. Dr. Emmie te Nijenhuis describes the historical development the Indian devotional song (kirtana) as a musical form and shows how the works of Muttusvami Diksitar are embedded in the South Indian musical tradition.
Part II: Music Examples, by Emmie te Nijenhuis, is entirely written in regular Western staff notation. Transcriptions of Indian music notations of songs by various composers illustrate the historical development of the kirtana as a musical form and show how the melodic forms (raga) which Diksitar used in his cycle of hymns to the goddess Kamala were applied by earlier South Indian composers. The transcription of Muttusvami Diksitar's song cycle is based on two Indian traditions, i.e. Subbarama Diksitar, Sangita Sampradaya Pradarsini; (Tamil edition), 4 vols., Madras 1961, 1963, 1968 and 1977; B. Vedanta Bhagavatar and Ananta Krsnayyar, Guruguhaganamrtavarsini, Madras 1936. A complete vocal performance of this cycle by Kalpakam Svaminathan, who belongs to the latter tradition, has been recorded and notated by the present writer. An audio cd of this performance is in preparation.

Sangitasiromani: A Medieval Handbook of Indian Music, edited with Introduction and Translation, Brill, Leiden 1992 ( or
Sangitasiromani, "The Crest-Jewel of Music", is a Sanskrit handbook of Indian music that was written on the occasion of a musicological congress organized in 1428 by Malika Sulata Sahi, a Hindu prince converted to the Islam who governed the districts to the West of the present city of Allahabad. Famous old and contemporary musicological works interpreted and compiled by Sanskrit scholars from all over the country constituted the basis of this new standard work. It deals with all the subjects of traditional musicology, such as intonation (sruti), intervals (svara), tone-system (grama), scales (murchana), tonal patterns (tana), overlapping (sadharana) of intervals and modes, melodic line (varna), musical figures (alamkara), modes (jati), style of singing (giti), stereotyped melodic forms (raga), musical metre (tala), compositional form (prabandha), embellishment (gamaka), phrase technique (sthaya), melodic improvisation (alapti), types of voice (sarira) as well as qualities (guna) and defects (dosa) of a voice. Unfortunately, chapters on musical instruments (vadya) and dance (nrtya), announced in the initial synopsis of the work, have not been handed down in the available manuscripts. Until now the Jodhpur manuscript, dated 1487 A.D. and preserved in the Rajastan Oriental Research Institute at Jodhpur, appears to be the most complete one. For the benefit of the reader the transliterated Sanskrit text and the English translation have been set on facing pages in the present edition. In the elaborate Introduction the present writer has explained and summarized all topics dealt with in this work.