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Nuances of Semi-Classical Music : Trends and Traits


Semi-classical music is a beautiful genre that combines elements of classical music with folk music traditions and creates a uniqueness in Indian Music styles. It holds a unique place in all music genre, blending the complexities of classical compositions with the emotive appeal of folk legacy. Semi- Classical cannot be segregate from the classical music only because it is semi-classical or named as partial classical. It is always shared by many of the renown musicians that singing semi classical need more focused reeyaz than other genre because blending the melody of bandish in various raga itself is a big challenge thus Pandit Channula, Vidushi Girija Devi and many of the renowned artist usually said  in interview, singing Dadra, Thumri, Kajri , Chaiti is not lighter than classical but very challenging to maintain the concept of  Ragadari in multiple Ragas. 


Of course semiclassical music is the part of classic tradition of the India but it has a deep reach of folk and traditional music. It can be said that the Raga Music- Khyal and Dhrupad are more confined and based on single raga and its integrated form but Dadra- Thumri are more profound and excellent to express eternal emotions. Semiclassical singing can be said as the garland of Rasa and Bhav which are webbed in a raga with bundle of similar raga to explore the aesthetical feeling of the literature in various way. 


Hindustani Semi Classical music is the most vibrant form that represent the equal value of literature because the meaning of the lyrics is most prominent part to express the warmth and beauty of the lyrics. In Dadra, Thumri and other semi classical form the lyrics of the composition, what we called Bandishs, plays great role in choosing the raga. Among the Navarasa (Nine Elements of aesthetic ), most of the Rasa are expressed through singing. It can be said that multiple emotions are expressed in Thumri and Dadra. Raga Kafi, Khamaj, Pilu, Tilang, Tilakkamod, Pahari, Desh, Sohani, Bhairavi, Mand, are the most common raga in semiclassical format of Hindustani music. 


Dealing with semiclassical music needs more expertise in sur,  depth in raga and understanding the emotions of the Bandish. Dadra, Thumri, Kajri, Chaiti, Chaita, Hori, Jhula, Sohar, Mangal and numerous form of traditional and folk singing are transformed to semiclassical form but now we are at the stage where folk culture are dying day by day because of lack of audience, lack of proper takeover of folk style by next generation, and lack of economical growth of the folk artist. 

Nov 2023- All right reserved @musicbanaras.com


Technique of Reeyaz for Playback Singing

 Playback singing is a high competency and a challenging career where one needs to prove his/her best in term of industry needs. Singing behind the scene for onscreen artist is always a tough job because you voice plays great role to visualised the scene and onscreen romance/humour/ tragedy and much more. Playback singer are chosen on the basic of few qualities mapping with the on screen artist but to sustain on the industry one need to have good vocal and versatility. The vocal technique and versatility can only be achieved by means of good reeyaz and guidance of Guru. 
Here, we are going to discuss on few important attributes and technique of reeyaz that can help in playback singing. as we knows, to be a quality singer one needs to have some vocal attributes i.e. Pitch perfection, three octave vocal range, perfection on rhythm and tempo, diction and clear pronunciation, aesthetical expression of lyrics, good combination of mood and melody, art of synchronisation of vocal with track, knowledge of sound and studio technique and many others. To achieve these all one fundamental attribute need to learn and practice i.e vocal accuracy and pitch perfection . It can can be learned only from the right practice- sadhana, reeyaz. here are few technique of vocal practice especially for light music singing. 
1. practice of Sapat in Bilawal and Asawari thaat with low pressure voice because if you force than the vocal chord may be harsh and it will be hard to sing mukriya and nuances of light singing. 
2. Avoid the reeyaz of gamak instead practice murkiya with soft voice . the best combination of murki for light singing in rotation of voice . NSRS notes bundle practice for half an hour can enhance murkiya and flexibility of voice. NSRS can be practice in different way, the cycle can be stared as NSRS, RSNS, SNSR, SRSN with combination komal and and suddha swar. It can be practice in Bhairavi Thaat, Asawari That, Bhairav Thaat, Bilawal Thaat. The Reeyaz of these four notes can be done in first speed, second speed and fourth speed i.e. slow medium and fast tempo.

3.  Similarly, the notes NSRS, SRGR, RGMG, GMPM, MPDP, PDND, DNSN, NSRS. can be practice in swar and aakar in slow , medium and fast tempo. Please take care of low vocal pressure or natural singing during the reeyaz time and always establish swar before increasing the tempo and aakar practices. 

4. The palte of three notes and four notes can be for crucial specially the ascend and descend of these palte in both sargam and aakar. The notes can be SRG,RGM, GMP, MPD,PDN,DNS, SND, NDP, DPM,PMG,MGR, GRS or the combination of four SRGM RGMP, GMPD........!

5. Simple palte but with clear and natural voice can enhance pitch accuracy. Try to sing as natural as you can and use eternal/navel voice rather than singing from upper chest.  

6.One more technique of breathing exercise with standing notes for at least 30-40 second can be crucial for long breathe which can help in playback singing.  

7. If you wish to be playback singer than just reeyaz in medium tempo with accurate pitch because taan are not the part of playback singing. 

8. To improve long interval notes and jumping notes practice simply zigzag notes in medium tempo or choose one Raga fro example Raga Yeman, Practcie Shampurna- Shampurna aroh-avaroh Sapat, than Shadav shampurna aroh - avaroh gradually leaving on notes at one time . similary Sampurna- Shadav practice of in similar way. Practice Audav- Sampurna, Sampurna- Audav leaving any two notes simultaneously, than Shadav- Shadav practcie Shadav- Audav, Audav-Shadav and Finally Audav- Audav practice of each notes can enhance pitch and scale perfection. These kind of practcie can be done in multiple Raga/Thaat but gradually and in limited speed and can increase as per the proficiency of singing. 

9. Recital of Literature, Poem can be crucial in improving pronunciation and diction so habit of reading and reciting the literature can be done as a part of reeyaz  because lyrics plays a great role in playback singing. 

10. Last but not the least, expression and art of aesthetics can improve by understanding the lyrical meaning and realise the actual emotion of the lyrics. Aesthetic is on of the big challenge what all playback singer have to face because they have to sing as per the scene of on screen artist so adapting the others feeling and transforming into the situation can make you good singer. 

These are the few among many techniques that can help and improve singing and may be helpful if somebody wish to target playback singing. 

A small initiative in class music .. please listen and provide feedback, like and share if found satisfactory .


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Playback Singing: Scope and Opportunities

Playback singing is the art of vocal recital, a backstage artist who sang for the artists who plays role in cinema, tele-serials, jingles, OTT, and many other module of entertainment industry worldwide. Like other singer, playback singer need to maintain his/her all attributes of vocal quality in-addition with the script, scene, role play and receptor of the character.

Not all can be a playback singer because of the voice texture and the flexibility that can be mingle with screen artist, the  hero/heroin but nobody knows what kind of voice texture may fit with screen artist. The selection of the playback is purely based on the physique and vocal quality that suit for the on screen artist.  

As a career in playback singer following qualities/ attributes need to developed by the singer.

a. Versatility 

b. Flexible tonality

c. Clear Pronunciation 

d. Diction and clear dialect 

e. Pitch Perfection

f. Knowledge of chords 

g. Habit of shifting scale 

h. Understanding Aesthetics 

i. Realisation of literature 

j. Understanding the scene and character

k. Nature of Assimilation

Looking into the India, there are lots of scope and opportunities that playback singing can be excellent career. Hindi Film Industry, widely know as Bollywood may be one of the best career option. In Hindi Tele-serials, OTT and commercials , playback singer are highly on demand but need to develop the above mention attributes. 

The major challenges for Non-Hindi speaking candidate in Bollywood is diction, the clear dialect of Hindi- Urdu, so one should prepare and learn the proper pronunciation of words -- of Sa, Sha, Ba, Wo, nukta words drives from Urdu like  Ja, Za, Pha, Ka Kha, Ga, and the phonetic of Sanskrit, Hindi and Urdu. 

Like wise in some other film industry of different state i.e. Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, Gujarati, Bhojpuri, Bangla, Oriya, Assamese, playback singing can be a most vibrant profession if your are in music field. But the consequences of playback singing is only possible if one can maintain the attributes mentioned above. Singing for the cinema/ OTT/ TV shows seem easier to those who do not deserve to be a playback singer and it is always a challenging profession for those who wish to rise-up. In regional industry one more challenges to a singer is the adaptation of local dialect and accent so those who are grown up in multi linguistic society can assimilate to the regional dialect and accent. 

Emerging of new industries, online resources and freelance projects, opportunities are increasing day by day. Number of Films, TV serials, Show reels, OTT are flooded in industry so one has to prepare for the industry with enhancing the qualities and efforts to versatility that he/she can sustain in the industry. The most essential part in being the singer is potential learning and proper guidance of Guru so identifying a guru is also a challenging task in present time.  The way of Reeyaz/ Swar Sadhana/ vocal practice is one of the fundamental thing that drives one to towards the playback singing. Correct vocal practice is always an essential part of music and it is only possible with guidance of experience Guru. The detail of reeyaz will be discussed in next chapter. 


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Kumar Sargam 


Brihaddeshi: A Transition Period in Indian Music

        Brihaddeshi is another milestone text that spans the period from Natyashastra to Dattilam to Sangitaratnakara. It carries forward the tradition of Natyashastra and Dattilam; and, at the same time, it establishes the Desi Sangita on a firm pedestal. Brihaddeshi bridges the Marga and the Desi class of Music; and, it also provides the basis for the emergence of the Thaat/Mela system of classifying the Ragas.   One could say; Brihaddeshi gave a new birth to Indian Music; and, revitalized its creative genius by bringing the concept of Raga into the very heart of the Music traditions and their sensibilities.

        This text is one of the major references of many earlier authors whose work are now almost disapeare from the lineage of Indian Music. The text attributed by Matang in Brihaddeshi was the collective and conclusive study of the Natyashastra, Abhinaya Darpana and Dattilam. Further he also added references from the text of Kasyap, Durgashakti, Kohal, Maheshwar, Vallabh and Shardul to establish the concept of Raga, Jati Gayan, and Deshi- Marghi Sangeet and other components of Vedic music. Brihaddeshi was composed and released for bibliophile during the mid of seventh century. There is no any concered demography about the exact relase date of the book but it is assumed that Brihaddeshi time was approximately around mid of the seventh century. 

        The Edition of Brihaddeshi is a half lost verson, only of five hundred around Verses are available to us. The available Chapters and verses deal only with music and the term closely related to singing. The Chapters in this book deals with the Concept of Deshi- (Geeta- Vadhya-Nritya), a countryside music defining the characteristics of Grama – (Shadaj-Madhyam-Gandhar), Murchana, Nada, Shruti, Swara and component of vocal practices. He describes all togthere twenty-one Murchan, seven each from Shadaj, Madhyam, and Gandhar Gram.

After allotting a chapter to the Jaati-s, Matanga devotes a special chapter to the Ragas.  Here, he deals with Grama-raga; and the Desi-ragas: Bhasa, Vibhasa and Antarabhasa. These Desi-ragas are again classified into four categories as: Raganga, Bhashanga, Kriyanga and Upanga. Indeed, it is in this chapter of the Brhaddeshi we first come across the definition of Raga as given by Matanga. and, it is his definition that has guided all the later literature (lakshana grantha) on Classical Music. In the history of the Ragas, Brhaddeshi is, therefore, a landmark textThe term Raga seemed to have been in use even prior to 7th century. But it was not used in Music or in Music-theories in the way we know it and, in the way, use it now.  It is, therefore, difficult to say that the concept of Raga as it is understood today, had fully evolved and was recognized as such in the period prior to Matanga; say, at the time of Natyashastra (second century BCE)

        The Musical Scenario in India was quite unstable during the 8th century an onwards because of foreign invasion. The religious background and rituals beliefs in India was highly affected because of the political intervension by those rulars. The Turkish, Irani or the Afgans Muslims invasion suddenly changes the social structure of the society in the beginning of medieval period. The Bhakti Adnolan was the the commmandable social unity started by Adi-Guru- Shankaracharya to reform and reunited against the forceful conversion and religious attack by the Muslims Bharta Desh. The Movement was also the savior of the musical tradition in mediavial period, from Bangal to Gujarat, Assam to Multan, Lahore to Madras, Konchi to Kashi, Bhakit movement was widely accepted by the people of India for the resistance of their indegenious culture, tradition, rituals and religious belief. 


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