word 'music' in India has an all-round meaning. It is
not merely restricted to singing or playing an instrument.
The word 'Sangit' or music in India encompasses all, viz:
singing (Gayana), playing instrument (Vadana) and dancing
(Nritya) as well. Though this is true, due to the vast
scope of the subject, in this topic, music will be first
dealt as styles of Indian classical singing. Dance, as
a part of music, has been dealt with separately .
origin of Indian music is said to be rooted in the Vedas.
Brahma is said to be the author of the four Vedas, of
which the SamaVeda was chanted in definite musical patterns.
Vedic hymns were sung in plain melody, using only 3
notes. It took a long time for music to come to the
form found in present-day India. In Indian music, the
period of Aryans had ritualistic importance. As a form
of entertainment, it developed much later. Also, the
folk music in India has a rich tradition that hails
from much before the Aryans.
Music of India as seen and heard today is said to be
the development (during the 14th and 18th centuries).
The two popular schools of Indian classical music, Hindustani
and Carnatic are the outcome of the cultural mix during
this period. It was during this period that the music
sung in the north came in contact with Persian music
and assimilated it, through the Pathans and the Mughals.
Hindustani music adopted a scale of Shuddha Swara Saptaka(octave
of natural notes) and Carnatic music retained
the traditional octave.
this period, different styles of classical compositions
such as Dhrupad, Dhamar, Khayal,etc. were contributed
to Hindustani music, along with many exquisite hymns,
bhajans, kirtans, etc. The Indian musical scale
is said to have evolved from 3 notes to a scale of 7
primary notes on the basis of 22 intervals. A scale
is divided into 22 shrutis or intervals, and these are
the basis of the musical notes. The 7 notes of the scale
are known to musicians as Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha ,Ni
and Sa. These 7 notes of the scale do not have equal
intervals between them. Raga is the basis or the soul
of Indian Classical music.
combination of several notes woven into a composition
in a way which is pleasing to the ear is called a Raga.
Any stray combination of notes cannot be called a Raga.
All the ragas are divided into two groups -- Poorva
Ragas and Uttar Ragas. The Poorva Ragas are sung between
12 noon and 12 midnight. The Uttar Ragas are sung between
12 midnight and 12 noon. The three most important genres
of Hindustani vocal music are: Dhrupad, Khayaal,
Dhrupad is the oldest and perhaps the grandest
form of Hindustani vocal music. It is said to have descended
from an older form called the prabandha (nonexistant
today) and adapted for court performance during the
reign of Raja Man Singh Tomar of Gwalior. Dhrupad has
been on the decline since the 18th century.
is the most prominent genre of Hindustani (vocal) music.
Its origins are a mystery. Some people trace its origins
to "Sadarang" Nyaamat Khan - a beenkaar in
the Mughal court of Muhammad Shah "Rangila".
originated from Lucknow and Benares in the 19th century.
This genre is considered to be "light classical"
music. Thumrees are composed in lighter raagas and have
simpler taalas. There is no aalaap-type improvisation
in this genre.
Daadra is another genre of "light classical"
music. It bears a close resemblance to the Thumree.
Carnatic music is based not on logarithmic division
but on rational division. An octave is based on the
ratio 1:2; Pa is located through the ratio 2:3; similar
definitions exist for all the twelve swara sthanas.
A few centuries ago, Western classical music too was
based on rational division (the resulting scale was
called as the natural scale), but this has given way
to the equally tempered (also called chromatic) scale
produced by logarithmic division.
music is one of the very few musical forms in the
world that have not lost their traditional character
due to the influence of Western culture. On the contrary,
Carnatic music has enhanced its traditional characterby
borrowing good things from other systems of music. The
introduction of the violin is a very good example of
a positive influence. Apart from classical music,
Music also has a very rich tradition of Folk Music.
music has different forms depending on the region
it belongs to. With flexibility in its expression, it
is not bound by laws or any set pattern. Folk music
has its peculiarity expressions and emotions and has
established a tradition of its own. Unlike the Classical
Music, the musical notes in Folk Music have less value
and the poetic content has greater impact, and rythm
plays a very important role. Songs and lyrics of folk
music portray the common life of the villagers. Indian
classical music has a peculiarity as far as expression
of each Swara with respect to its scale or saptaka is
concerned. Hence the constant playing of the drone is
necessary. A singer is always accompanied by an instrument
called "Tanpura" which is tuned to suit his
the popular instruments in India, Sitar has a
distinct value and has been in use for about 700 years.
Sitar has a long and complex heritage; its origin goes
back to the ancient Veena. In the 13th century, Amir
Khusru, in order to make the instrument more flexible,
reversed the order of the strings and made the frets
movable. Ravi Shankar, the great musician-artist
brought changes and a new perspective. Sarod is another
popular stringed instrument.
has been found in carvings of the 1st century in Champa
temple and also in paintings in the Ajanta caves. It
also has a similarity with the Rabab of Afghanistan
and Kashmir. The instrument was modified by Amir
Khusru in the 13th century. A definite change was
made by Ustad Ali Akbar Khan in the shape of the instrument
for improving the tonal quality.
is the next instrument. The name is derived from "Sau
Rangi" meaning 100 colours. Sarangi is played
with a bow and has four main strings and as many as
forty resonant strings. It is generally
used to accompany singers but can also be a solo instrument.
Tanpura is a four or five stringed instrument
which gives the essential drone background to all Indian
music. Esraj is played with a bow and has many
strings. It is one of the major instruments of North
Santoor is a North Indian instrument originating
from Kashmir. It has more than a hundred strings which
run across a hollow rectangular box and the strings
are struck by a pair of slim carved walnut mallets.
Veena is a comparatively recent addition to the
Veena family. It is a fretless stringed instrument with
four main strings, three drone and rhythm strings and
eleven to thirteen resonating strings. The strings are
plucked by a plectrum on the index or middle finger
of the right hand.
Violin was introduced to India about 300 years
ago and is a very important string instrument in the
South of India. It is played in a sitting position and
is held between the right foot and the left shoulder.
Tabla is the overall term for two drums, which
are played as an accompaniment to North Indian music
and dance. The musician uses the base of the palm as
well as the fingers to produce great variations in sounds.
The right hand drum is tuned to the tonic dominant or
sub-dominant and the left-hand drum acts as the base.
Pakhawaj is a long bodied wooden drum with both
ends covered in skin and is the most traditional drum
of North India. Played horizontally with the fingers
and palms of both hands, the right hand surface is tuned
to the pitch required and the left hand surface provides
the base. Mridangam is similar in appearance
to the Pakhawaj but the ends have a different texture.
It is the most used drum in South Indian music.
Dholak is a side drum, cylindrical in shape,
bored out of solid wood. Its pitch is variable and is
an essential accompaniment for folk music of North India.
Jal Tarang is essentially a water-xylophone.
It is made up of a series of china bowls of varying
sizes and they are filled with varying levels of water.
These are then played with two light sticks.
is a long bodied drum with both ends covered in skin
and plays an important role in Manipuri dancing when
it is played by men and women, either in a sitting position
or standing position.
Flute is found in every part of India Carved
from bamboo it is made in every possible size. It is
usually played in a vertical position.
Shehnai is a double-reeded wind instrument with
a widening tube towards the lower end. There are eight
or nine holes, the upper seven for playing, the lower
ones for tuning. The Shehnai is considered auspicious
and is played on all festive occasions in India.