Introduction to Indian Classical Music

Introduction to Indian Classical Music 

Indian Classical Music, a long musical tradition from the Vedic period, having its own theory and grammar is completely based on the epic appropriate structure which is called Shastra in India. That's why this subcontinental music is called the Shastriya Sangeet, music from the apt of classical epic theory and literature. Bhartiya Shashtriya Sangeet, actually classical music is the best in compiled music from generation to generation with the systematic formation of pitch and scale in various melodic structures. It is organized with strict grammatical rules and regulations and principles of Raga and the melodies but it has wide space to elaborate the musical fragrance with its fame. It has no imprisonment beyond its principle and grammar and each and every artist can explore their own innovations and creativity to explore the Journey of melodies through Raga in Bhartiya Shastrya Sangeet restricting the melody within the circumstance and frame of the Raga. It has a boundary but has no limits to exploring the musical essence, fragrance, and beauty of sound and the microtonal elaboration through the moods of every individual artist. It depends upon the creativity: practice and innovation of artists that how much he/she can explore the musical core through Raga with fundamental theories of Indian Classical Music in various aspects.


          There are two major classifications in Indian Classical Music supposed to divide in the 13th Century after the Mughal invasion in the Northern part of the Indian continent. The foreign rulers attack Bharat Desh from its western corner and move towards to eastern and northern parts and ruled over the centuries. Persian, Arabian, Turkish empires, and the Sultanates of Mughals whose arrival in Bharat with different cultural and linguist behavior mixed with the Hindu tradition, results in the mixture which eventually named as Hindustani Shastrya Sangeet and Carnatic Music. The northern and North Western part of India was mostly captured by the Mughals so the fertility of Classical Music tradition was mixed with the Persian music and Arabic influence in their court were as the southern part of the Indian subcontinent was less influenced by the Sultans and Mughals so the pure tradition of Vedic Music remain unchanged in South India. The tradition of Indian Classical music has a huge lineup to explore, to understand, and to research where hundreds of thousands of years of convention nurtures can be noticed with its eternal beauty and cluster of aesthetics in Raga and Rasa. 

 Hindustani Classical Music:-

Hindustani Classical music precisely called Uttar Bharatiya Shastriya Sangeet widely popular in almost all the parts of the Indian Subcontinent. Hindustani Music places highlights on the improvisation aspect of Raga. The principle of the Raga Recital was firstly recited in Brihaddeshi by Matang Muni, a follower, and disciple of Bharat. Initially, the refined musical treaties were written by the Bharat in Natyashastra in the 2nd century BC describing the basic elements of Sangeet and Natya with other elements and essentialities to flourish the Vedic tradition. Later on, various other scholars refine and enlarge the concept of Raga and Geetam Vadyam tatha Nrityam trayam sangeetamucheyate to its extent. Among the notable authors, Pandit Sharangadev was one who recited an epic book called Sangeeta Ratnakar in the 13th Century and drives the vast theory of Indian music to the scholarly position. It is also said that after the period of Sharangadev, the two distinct traditions of Hindustani and Carnatic musical forms emerge and slowly flourished in Northern and Southern India respectively. There are some notable authors and musicologists during the medieval period who explore the musical concept and accelerate to form the ideal tradition what we practice and learn today are Vidhyarande, Vainkatamakhi, Ramamatya, Lochan, Bhao Bhatt, Amir Khushoro, Tansen, Baiju Babra, Mutta swami Dikshytar, Swami Haridas, Purandaras, Tyagaraja, Nanyadev, Swati Tirunal, Mansingh Tomar, Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande, Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, Ramashrey Jha, etc.


Hindustani music is a colloquial combination of mood and melodies which are germinated and flourished in the soil of the Indian Sub-Continent. It has various sub-division singing styles popular with the generation carrying from the Vedic period to the Ancient period to Medieval Period to Modern to Postmodern period. Shaam Gaan, Jati Gaan, Margi Sangeet to Deshi Sangeet to Prabandha Gaan, Dhrupad-Dhamar, Sadara, Khyal, Thumri, Dadra, Tappa to various other forms are the innovations of caring musical tradition from beginning to present time. The distinct form of Hindustani Sangeet emerges in the medieval period with the mixture of Arabic and Persian in Sanskrit. Sanskrit was the most prominent language and widely spoken all over the Indian Sub-Continent and also the official language to communicate in the society.  Sufi and Qawwali were supposed to be popular among Muslims and Dhrupad-Dhamar and Bhakti Sangeet was well flourished among Hindus. Later an imaginary form of classical music with a wide area of innovation named Khayal immerge in North India. Agra and Braj was the place where Khyal Music was largely fertile and spread to the rest part of North India. Court Musician Sadarang and Adarang from Arga were supposed to be the Innovator who popularize the Khyal style of Hindustani Classical music. Some scholars believe that Swami Haridas of Vrindavan initially recited Khyal in the divine remembrance of Lord Krishna which was later adopted by his contemporary artist and later spread to the society. Khyal means care, remembrance, or innovation so he sang first to Lord Krishna and the style slowly spread to the surroundings nearby and after a century or more Sadarang-Adarang court, musicians of Mohammad Shah Rangeley spread it to popularize in great extent.

          Hindustani classical music has changed its form from time to time. After the British conquest, most of the oral tradition system has transcribed in a text form by many Indian Scholars as well as a few foreign Authors and researchers and also done a substantial effort to preserve the oral tradition. Devnagri script of Hindi language and English have commonly accepted languages with other regional languages like Urdu, Bangla, Marathi, Nepali, and Punjabi for the research and transcribe the huge tradition of Indian music in a systematic and scholarly way.

The major style of Hindustani Shastriya Sangeet is associated with Dhrupad, Dhamar, Sadra, Khyal, Thumri, Tappa, Trivat, Chaturanga, Tarana, etc. Some folk musical traditions smarten up to semi-classical based on some typical Ragas like Khamaj, Bhairavi, Kafi, Desh, Pahadi, Mand, Pilu, Tilang, Sarang, etc. These Ragas are sometimes called an upgraded version of folk melodies to systematic music form. The refurbished semi-classical compositions like Kajri, Chaiti, Bhajan, Jhula, Kirtan and Geet Ghazals, etc are also upgraded from to the classical/ semi-classical form from the living tradition of Folk repertoire now popularly based on melodies of Ragas.

Dr. Kumar Sargam 

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