Indian Classical Music

Indian classical music is a genre of music from India. It has a Divine, spiritual origin since the times of Vedas, the ancient holy scriptures of the Hindus. It has two major traditions: the North Indian classical music tradition is called Hindustani, while the South Indian expression is called Carnatic. The roots of the classical music of India are found in the Vedic literature of Hinduism.  The classic Sanskrit text Natya Shastra is at the foundation of the numerous classical music and dance traditions of India. After the 14th century, due to the Islamic invasion of India,  North and South India developed different cultures. North Indian classical music is called Hindustani, while the South Indian expression is called Carnatic.

Many Hindu Gods and Goddesses are depicted with musical instruments. For example Lord Krishna plays the flute, while Saraswati plays the veena. Lord Shiva is the creator of music and dance. This shows the spiritual origin of music in India. One can achieve self realization through music. Such is the Divine status of music in Hinduism.

Carnatic music, from South India, tends to be more rhythmically intensive and structured than Hindustani music. 

Hindustani music style is mainly found in North India. It exists in four major forms: Dhrupad, Khyal (or Khayal), Tarana, and the semi-classical Thumri. Dhrupad (or Dhruvapad), the ancient form described in the Hindu text Natyashastra, is one of the core forms of classical music found all over the Indian subcontinent. The word comes from Dhruva which means immovable and permanent. The other three styles namely Khayal,Tarana, Thumri are derivatives of Dhrupad.

In Indian classical music, the raga and the tala are two foundational elements. The raga forms the fabric of a melodic structure, and the tala keeps the time cycle. Both raga and tala are open frameworks for creativity and allow a very large number of possibilities. Raga may be roughly described as a musical entity that includes note intonation, relative duration and order. It is similar to how words form phrases to create an atmosphere of expression.  A tala measures musical time in Indian music. The tala forms the metrical structure that repeats, in a cyclical harmony, from the start to end of any particular song or dance segment.

Instruments typically used in Hindustani music include the sitar, sarod, surbahar, esraj, veena, tanpura, bansuri, shehnai, sarangi, violin, santoor, pakhavaj and tabla. Instruments typically used in Carnatic music include veena, venu, gottuvadyam, harmonium, mridangam, kanjira, ghatam, nadaswaram and violin.

For those who want a deeper and true understanding of Indian Classical Music, we recommend the album pack of 20 CDs called “Alap” which also includes a book. Alaap helps you understand and enjoy Indian Classical Music as a living experience. You share the insights of the great Masters and listen to some of the finest unforgettable music creation of the last 50 years. It is divided into 3 parts. Part one explores the spiritual elements of Indian classical music. Parts two and three present the distinctive features of Hindustani and Carnatic music. It has been created by Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry, India.

Note: Article condensed from Wikipedia Link.

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