Indian Music

Indian Classical Music

Indian music is sublime in its expression, deep in its origin, majestic in its speed, and all-encompassing in its subtlety. “Sangeet—संगीत” or “Gān—गान”, as it is known in Indian languages, is a form of worship or a mode through which the exponent offers his/her prayers to his/her chosen deity or any form of Godhead. Music for them is the enchanting medium through which “सायुज्य” the absorption of the soul in the over-soul is realized or at least dreamt. Indian music excels in its subtle colours that range from all the possible moods of human thinking or psyche, and it has effect on both human body and mind. Spellbinding, charming, enchanting, attracting, enticing, absorbing, and thorough are some of the characteristics that you can associate to the art of music in India.

In the present age, Indian music can be divided into whole lot of genres that flourish in the plateau of Indian subcontinent: classical, semi-classical, Sufi, Ghazal, folk, regional, pop, fusion, western, and music used in media. Almost all these forms are popular in different parts of India. Indian classical music “शास्त्रीय संगीत” can be broadly classified into two types: North Indian Classical Music popularly known as Hindustani Style; and South Indian Classical Music, popularly known as Cārnatic Style. The popularity of these forms of Indian classical music give them their name; however, both styles are popular with genuine music lovers and with people who understand the basic concepts of music, though they may live in whichever part of India.

North Indian or Hindustani Style:

This type of music is prevalent through India. The world famous Tansen is believed to be the first exponent of this type of music. The system is based on Rāgas “राग”, which have their origin in the Sāma Veda. The set of seven notes is used to control all the articulations of notes that a singer or an instrument would give while rendering music. The set of these seven notes has variation in their pitch and scale just like any other system in the world. Hindustani style has some commonly used instruments for accompanying the singer or a leading instrument.

Percussion instruments: Pakhāwaj, Tablā, Dholak, Dafli (Tambourine)
Non-percussion instruments: Sitār, Harmonium, Sārangi, Santōr, Veena, Tanpura, Flute (Bansuri)

There are two types of renditions that are prevalent in this style: vocal and instrumental. Vocal music involves singers and accompaniments of percussion and non-percussion instruments. While for instrumental music, one or multiple instruments play as lead and other percussion and non-percussion instruments accompany them. The music is best presented in concern format, where the rendition ends in a very-very fast speed, which is like a galloping horse that has reached its topmost speed and comes to a halt at once. A good exponent of Indian classical music often has the power to bind its audience with the spell of music.

South Indian or Cārnatic Style:

This type of music is also prevalent throughout India, but its major hubs are the 4 southernmost states of India: Kerelā, Tamil Nādu, Āndhra Pradesh, and Karnātka. The world famous trinity of Tyāgarāja, Shyāmā Shāstri, and Muthuswāmi Dikshitkar are believed to the first exponents of this style. Just like North Indian classical music, it is also based on seven notes that have their origin in “Sāma Veda”. In fact, North Indian classical music and Cārnatic style have many same things: they primarily differ in the instruments that are used for accompaniment and also the style of path followed while the concert is rendered.

Percussion instruments: Mridungam, Tavil, Udaikai, Tambourine, Ghatam (earthen pot)
Non-percussion instruments: Violin, Veena, Nādswaram, Flute (Venu)

Again, Cārnatic music is also rendered in two styles: vocal and instrumental. The percussion instruments or drums, as they are popularly known to common music-lover, have a very rich sound—it is very unique and is very much different from North Indian classical music. You can differentiate between the two from this aspect only: however, at the same time, there are many deep and technical variations that differentiate both styles. For a genuine music lover, Hindustāni or Cārnatic styles of music offer great and rich taste to their musical senses.

One very noticeable thing is there in both these styles: the main non-percussion accompanying instrument of both the styles in non-Indian in its origin. Harmonium and Violin are both foreign instruments but they have made their main position in Indian classical music and now they are almost indispensable. In fact, many people believe that Harmonium is an Indian instrument, but it is not.

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