the soul of the cosmos. It is found everywhere from the rustling of the trees,
to the playful streams to the pitter-patter of the raindrops. Indian music in
particular, is one of the oldest and finest forms of human
passions like agony, ecstasy, sorrow, hope, desire etc. Indian music has strong connections with religious traditions and
faiths. Origin of music, in India, is traced to the
shabdha brahma, Om. The
Vedas, representing the most ancient literature known to the world, are set to a
distinctive melody that is absolutely soothing. In India, music has been
categorized by the scriptures into two major streams known as the margi
(classical) and the desi (folk).
Indian Classical Music
Indian classical music is complex and rich with direct emotional
appeal. The origins
of classical music can be traced to the Natya Shastra (Dhrupad
- 4th century BC), a Sanskrit treatise on drama, which encompasses music as
Dhrupad developed as a part of worship in temples and various rituals
such as yajnas. Dhrupad has four distinct gharanas or schools namely, Gudiya
Govarhar, Khandar, Dagar and Nauhar.
Two classical traditions
started to diverge only around 14th Century
A.D: Hindustani in north India and
Karnataka (Carnatic) in the south. Both traditions derive inspiration
from the indigenous bhakti ("devotional") movements. Both systems are
essentially monophonic (consisting of unharmonized melody); employ a drone (one
or more notes sustained against a melody); and are modal—that is, the melody
line, which may either be composed in advance or improvised, is based on one of
several hundred traditional melody matrices called raga.
The fundamental elements of both Hindustani and
Carnatic classical music are raaga
(melody) is India's contribution to the world of music. A highly scientific and
practical scheme of raga classification introduced by Venkatamahi became the
foundation for Indian classical music. The seven notes called
sapta svaras of Indian classical music are
dha (Dhaivatam) and
ni (Nishaadham). A
raaga is a scale of notes and melody
is the aural form or the tune from the scale of notes.
The other fundamental element of Classical music
taala, is the rythm or the
time-measure. Taalas always occur in
Tala thus involves both a quantitative element (time units or counts) and a
qualitative element (accent or stress). The basic building blocks for
angas. Various combinations of these
angas give rise to various
taalas. There are 35 principal
taalas. The most common
taala is the
Adi (first, foremost)
they have similar origins and source, according to ancient scripts, they seem
distinct. Carnatic music is kriti
based and saahitya (lyric) oriented,
while Hindustani music emphasises the musical structure and the possibilities in
western classical Piano one octave consists of 12 notes, whereas in Indian
classical music the same consists of 22 notes or shrutis. Svara is
generally defined as a note whereas a shruti is the microtonal intervals between
two svaras. The svaras in
Hindustani music have a different nomenclature in comparison to Carnatic music.
The 12 notes are called Shadja,
Komal Gaandhaara, Shuddha Gaandhaara, Shuddha Madhyama, Tivra Madhyama,
Shuddha Dhaivata, Komal Nishaadha and Shuddha Nishaadha.
The two main vocal traditions in Hindustanic music are
dhrupad, the purest of all, without
any embellishment and completely austere in its delivery, and
khayaal or imagination (13th
century), with a romantic content and elaborate ornamentation and also has a greater display of
virtuosity and imagination. Less abstract vocal forms fall into the light-classical variety:
nazms, ghazals (shers) and
An important landmark in Hindustani music was the establishment
of gharanas under the patronage of
princely states. A gharana is more a
school of thought than an institution. Each of the
gharanas developed distinct facets
and styles of presentation and performance.
The antiquity of musical instruments in
India is evident from the prehistoric cave paintings and sculptures of ancient
temples. Indian musical instruments can be broadly classified into four types:
tantu or stringed, susir or wind, avanada or
percussion and ghana comprising of bells, cymbals and gongs (jal-tarang).
The instruments of Indian classical music fall into two main categories: those
that carry the main melody and those that accompany. Among melody instruments
the voice is considered pre-eminent. Of the many other melodic instruments, the
most prominent are the plucked lutes, sitar and sarod in the
north and vina in the south; the transverse flute bañsri; and the
double reeds shahnai and nagasvaram.
Accompanying instruments serve three functions: to provide a drone, to provide a
secondary melody, and to keep time and give rhythmic support. For the drone the
most common instrument is the long-necked lute tambura. In the south the
Western violin is used to provide a secondary melody, as are the bowed
lute sarangi and the hand-pumped keyboard harmonium in the north; to keep
time and provide rhythmic support the Carnatic system uses the double-ended drum
mridangam, the small frame drum kanjira, large chenda and
the earthen pot ghatam; the Hindustani system generally employs the pair
of kettle drums called tabla and occasionally the double-ended drum
dholak or pakhavaja.
stringed instruments are the single-stringed ektaradilruba, esraj,
tanpura and the mayuri. Other wind instruments include the
nadaswaram, ninkirns and pongi.The other well known instruments (Hindustani music) are
Santoor and (devotional)
like the conch.
Indian Folk Music
Majority of India's population still lives in villages, and many old traditions
remain. Except in the tribal areas, men and women are usually segregated in
song, having independent repertoires and occasions for music. Women's songs,
often unaccompanied, are sung at weddings, childbirths, and festivals and during
agricultural and household activities. Men's songs, often accompanied at least
by percussion instruments, are connected with devotional practices, particular
festivals, and work.
In most regions specialist musicians perform for ritual, devotional, didactic,
and entertainment purposes, sometimes as hereditary responsibility but
often for payment in kind or money. These specialists include priests, religious
mendicants, village entertainers, storytellers, and theatrical troupes.
The role of folk music has been eroded substantially in many parts of India by
the spread of films, which have developed their own hybrid forms of music
influenced both by traditional Indian and Western music. Classical music,
however, remains largely free of these influences.
The dance and music of the state is mainly religion-oriented where gods are
invoked during the festivals by singing and dancing. This practice has continued
since ancient times. The major dance of the state are the Rakshasa (dem0on)
dance, the Kayang Dance, the Bakayang dance, the Bnayangchu dance, the Jataru
Kayang dance, Chohara dance, Shand and Shabu dances, Lang-dar-ma dance, Nati
dance, Jhanjhar dance, Jhoor dance, Gi dance and Rasa dance.
Musical instruments like Ranasingha, Karna, Turhi, Flute, Ektara, Kindari,
Jhanjh, Manjara, Chimta, Ghariyal, and Ghunghru are played to provide music for
the songs and the dances.
Indian music (Hindustani in the north and Carnatic in the
south) has been evolving as part of India’s culture for centuries. Aspects of
musical from such as tonal intervals, harmonies and rhythmical patterns are the
unique products of a wealth of musical traditions and influences; they are also
very different from those familiar in the west. Much of the music recalls Indian
fables and legends, as well as celebrating the seasonal rhythms of nature.
Indian dancing, similarly unique and timeless, is also widely performed
throughout the country, either at major festivals and recitals, or at the many
cultural shows which are staged in hotels.
The following is a list of the major music festivals in
- Sangeet Natak Akademi - New Delhi.
- January: Tyagaraja - Tiruvayyaru, near
- March: Shankar Lal – New Delhi.
- August: Vishnu Digambar -New Delhi.
- September: Bhatkhande - Lucknow.
- October: Sadarang - Calcutta.
- November: Sur-Singar - Bombay.
- December: Tansen - Gwalior.
- Music Academy - Madras.
- Shanmukhananda – The Music, Dance, and Drama