Classical Indian music is mainly divided into two
branches, North and South. The South Indian music is called Carnatic, in
reference of the Southern State of Karnataka, and the northern branch,
Hindustani, in reference of the Hindi speaking region going to North-West
Frontier and to Poorab, the East.
North Indian music is popularly known as Hindustani music. Hindustani
Music has never been really unified, many styles and genres have been
developed and encouraged by a family system called Gharana or Family.
The names of the gharanas are almost always derived from a
geographical location. The word "Gharana"
literally means "house" and it implies the house of the teacher.
Each Gharana has preserved its own tradition of music and the musical compositions.
Each Gharana has got a particular discipline, system and style. The gharanas
were entrusted with the duty of maintaining a certain standard of
South Indian Music is called Carnatic music. This "temple
music", whether vocal or instrumental, is always directed to a Hindu
god. Being also the music of religious dance, it has needed rhythms both
light and complex. Carnatic music is nearly totally unified and the
different schools are based on the same ragas (about 300 different ragas),
same solo instruments, mainly the veena, flute, violin and same rhythm
instrument, the mridangam and the ghatam.
Carnatic music is more an achievement of individual styles rather than a
music from schools, such as can be found in the North.
music, on the other hand, 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 peculiar expressions and emotions and
has established a tradition of its own.
The 7 notes or "Swar"
of the scale are Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni.
Shadj = Sa
Rishabh = Re
Gandhara = Ga
Madhyam = Ma
Pancham = Pa
Dhaivat = Dha
Nishad = Ni.
The scale sounds
similar to "Do Re Me Fa So La Te". In
western classical Piano one octave consists of 12 notes, whereas in
Indian classical music the same consists of 22 notes or shrutis. "Swar"
is generally defined as a note whereas a shruti is the microtonal
intervals between two swaras.
The two most important elements of Indian Classical Music are "Raag"
Raag is the basis of
classical music. The Hindi/Urdu word "raag" is derived
from the Sanskrit "raaga" which means "color,
or passion" Therefore raag may be thought of as an acoustic
method of coloring the mind of the listener with an emotion with a "combination
of a set of notes". It is the melody. Raagas are made of
different combinations of sapta swara or seven notes.
certain raags to be sung/played at particular times of the
day, seasons, or holidays; this is called "Samay" or time. A number
of raagas express certain moods or emotions, and some are believed to
personify gods, ascetics, or devotees. The object of a raaga is to express
a certain emotional mood and sentiment.
Regardless of whether
the raaga performance is vocal or instrumental, a drone (a sustained tone
of fixed pitch) is invariably heard in the background. Improvisation is an
essential feature of Indian music, depending upon the imagination and the
creativity of an artist; a great artist can communicate and instill in his
listener the mood of the Raaga.
There are a limited
number of raagas in Hindustani music; as the use of a "KING"
note and a "QUEEN" note restricts to a great extent, the
creation of new raagas. The raaga forms the backbone of Indian music,
and the laws laid down for the raagas have to be carefully observed to
preserve and safeguard their integrity. The following points are
required in the construction of a Raaga --
sequence of notes,
and "Queen" relation of the notes, i.e. Vadi and Samvadi
The Ascent and
Descent of the raag, i.e. Aroha and Avaroha
cluster of notes
All the raagas are
divided into two groups -- Poorva Raagas and Uttar Raagas. The Poorva Raagas
are sung between 12 noon and 12 midnight. The Uttar Raagas are sung
between 12 midnight and 12 noon.
the first movement of the Raaga. It is a slow, serene movement acting as
an invocation and it gradually develops the Raaga.
begins with the added element of rhythm which (combining with the
weaving of innumerable melodic patterns) gradually grains in tempo and
brings the raaga to the final movement.
the final movement and climax. It is played with a very fast action of
the plectrum which is worn on the right index finger.
the fixed composition. A gat can be in any Taala and can be spread over
from 2 to 16 of its rhythmic cycles in any tempo, slow, medium or fast.
A Gat (for a fixed
composition), whether vocal or instrumentaal, has generally two
sections. The first part is called "pallavi" - South Indian
term - or "asthayi" - North Indian term - which opens the
composition and is generally confined to the lower and middle octaves.
The following part of the composition is called the "anupallavi"
(or antara) which usually extends from the middle to upper octaves. In
South Indian music further melodic sections called "charana"
follows the "anupallavi."
other basic element of Indian music is the Taal. It is a rhythmic cycle
containing a fixed number of beats. 'Taala' is the second important factor
in Indian music. These are rhythmic cycles ranging from 3 to 108 beats. Taalas
give the rhythmic foundation of the melodic structure and are performed on
drums. The sequence of beats serves as a framework on which the drummer
plays rhythmic patterns associated with a particular taala. The taala is
divided into subsections, which can be equal or unequal in length. As a
rule, the first beat of a section receives an accent. The most important
accent occurs on the very first beat of the taala cycle; at this point the
soloist sings or plays an important tone of the raaga, and the drummer
accents this with an appropriate drum stroke.
- the teacher, the preceptor, the seer and guide. The word Guru is made
up of two syllables "gu" and "ru". Etymologically,
"gu" stands for darkness and "ru" stands for one who
dispels the darkness.
is the student.
In the Indian
musical tradition, the transmission of music from is primarily
"oral" in the sense that the teaching takes place in a
scenario of the Guru singing (or playing an instrument) and the sisya or
student learning by listening.
Typically, even in
the recent past, the sisya would leave his parents' home and stay with,
serve and learn from his chosen Guru, in the pursuit of musical
knowledge. In this kind of learning, the student sisya is almost always
in a continuous state of learning - while listening to his Guru practice
or while he teaches other sisyas, while accompanying him on the tambura
during a concert and while listening to the Guru taalk about and discuss
musical nuances (theoretical and performative) with various other
people. This methodology of teaching, which is unique to this country,
is what is called sampradaya and has been coming down the ages being
handed over from teacher to student in an unbroken tradition. The method
is predominantly one of assimilation by listening, conditioning,
repetition, practice, intuition and contemplation. Finally after all the
teaching it was up to the student to "discover" the raag for
- S. I. Parent mode; 72 in all; See Mela chart
- Sound in general; but applies more to musical sound or else it
is considered noise. Nada is of two types: Ahata (struck) and
- This universe is sound
- Closing note; cadence
- Seventh musical note (Ni)
- Characteristic musical catch phrase of a raga
- Fifth Musical note (Pa)
- Lower tetrachord-Sa Re Ga Ma / modified to Sa Re Ga Ma Pa
- Sharp (a. k. a. Tivar)
- Modal scale
- Emotional state. In music there are nine: Shringaar (sensual),
Raudra (anger), Hasya (happy), Vibhatsaya (disgust), Veera(heroic),
Karuna (sympathy), Bhayanak (fear), Adabhuta (wonder), and Shanta
- Second musical note (Re)
- Seven beat cycle
- Third movement in a composition encompassing all the regions of
the octave; Sanchari means wandering
- Seven note; heptatonic
- Subsonant, the second most important note in a raga
- Sunrise or sunset time periods
- Octave (Sapt means seven. Indian music does not count repeated
notes as a part of the same octave. But saptak and octave
basically imply the same meaning)
- Indian solfegio; derived from the first four notes Sa, Re, Ga,
- First musical note (Sa). A. k. a. Kharaja
- Six note; hexatonic
- Musical microtone; pitch; intonation
- A pure or a natural note
- Musical note
- Rhythm cycle
- An improvised vocal or instrumental musical phrase
- Upper octave region; upper pitch register
- Parent scale, parent mode; Thaat means to tie down as in frets
- Vocal or instrumental song style
- Sixteen beat cycle
- Deviating or camouflaging from the original. Concealment
- Upper tetrachord-Pa Dha Ni Sa / modified to Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa
Sitar is the most
popular stringed instrument of India and has been in use for about 700
years. It is fashioned from a seasoned gourd and teakwood and has twenty
mentaal frets with six or seven playing strings and nineteen sympathetic
strings below. It is played with a plectrum worn on the finger. 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
Shankar, the great musician-artist brought changes and a new
Sarod is another
popular stringed instrument. The body is carved from a single piece of
well-seasoned teakwood and the belly covered with goat skin. There are
four main strings, six rhythm and drone strings and fifteen sympathetic
strings, all made of metaal. These are played by striking with a
plectrum made of a coconut shell. The Sarod has no frets. Sarod as 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 shape of the instrument for improving the tonal quality.
The name derives
from Sau Rangi meaning 100 colors. 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.
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.
Vichitra 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.
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 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.
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.
Bismillah Khan -
Rag Multani : Shehnai
Khan, who introduced the humble north Indian reed pipe
to the concert stage, died in his home city of Benaras on August 21,
2006. He was 91.
When 'Idols', the hugely popular worldwide
phenomenon, was brought to India as 'Indian Idol'. The contest is held in Mumbai,
contestants perform one song to the panel of judges. The deliberations limit the contender pool to 28 hopefuls. The 28 semifinalists are
split up into four groups of seven each; two girl groups, two boy groups.
From each group three finalists are chosen by the public who go on to form
the final 12. One contestant is eliminated each week by viewer votes.
winner signs a contract worth ten million rupees with Sony Entertainment
Television (India) along with a chance to record an album. The winner also
receives a car & in the second season Sandeep Acharya also got a
guitar signed by Abhijeet Sawant, who was the very first Indian Idol.
Indian Bollywood movies
are a big part of Indian life. The Bollywood music has grown from
classical to pop and everything in between.
yester year stars like Lata Mangeshkar, Muhamad Raffi, Kishore Kumar
are surely icons but today there is a new breed of Indian musicians
and singers. All of the Bollywood songs are sung by professional
singers and the actors lip synch to them so well that is is hard to
tell that they are just lip-synching. The songs are rhythmic and
melodious. The new generation of Bollywood songs have even rap. The
songs are played in many Indian night clubs and even during
Chaiya....Eight years ago, perhaps two million people heard
the song Chaiyya Chaiyya in movie theatres while watching the film Dil
Se. By Sunday, at least 18 million movie fans will have heard
the song, not once but twice, in more than 3,000 theatres in over a
dozen countries including America, Canada, Britain and Italy, after
watching the hit film Inside Man. The movie is in
its fourth week. With more countries to be added, the thriller
starring Denzel Washington and directed
by Spike Lee will soon have many more millions listening to the song
at the very start of the film. And at its end.
The song has nothing to do with the film's theme, except that it
caught Spike Lee's attention when the musical Bombay
Dreams with A R Rahman's music was
on Broadway over a year ago. Chaiyya Chaiyya was one of its
highlights. The song sequence also received applause in the London
version where, unlike on Broadway, the show was is big hit.