The music of India includes multiple varieties of classical music, folk music, filmi, and Indian pop. Indian classical music is divided into two main traditions: and . Folk music is an important part of India’s musical heritage and is characterized by its own unique rhythms, melodies, and lyrics. music is the music used in Indian films and is a blend of classical, folk, and popular music. Indian pop, also known as , is a genre of music that combines Indian classical and folk music with Western pop music.
Pitch and Beat in Indian Music: Ragas & Talas
Indian classical music is based on the concept of , which are melodies that evoke certain emotions in the listener. Some of the most popular ragas used in Indian music include Bhairav, Yaman, Malkauns, Todi, Bhupali, Marwa, and Darbari. Each raga has a distinct melodic structure and is associated with a particular time of day, season, or mood.
are rhythmic cycles used in Indian classical music. They are composed of a specific number of and can be used to structure improvisations, compositions and performances. Talas are divided into three parts: thekhādī, the vibhāg and the laggī. Thekhadi is the cyclical pattern of beats, the vibhag divides the cycle into two halves and the laggi is the part of the cycle which is improvised. Each has its own unique character, which is determined by the number of beats and the way in which they are grouped together. Talas are an essential part of Indian classical music, and are used to create a sense of structure, repetition and form in the music.
Like the system in Arab music, in Indian classical music, a is a melodic mode or framework that serves as the foundation for a composition or improvisation. It is characterized by a specific set of melodic rules and guidelines, including the use of certain notes, the order of the notes, and the way they are ornamented.
Each has a specific mood or emotion associated with it and is meant to be performed during certain times of the day or in specific seasons.
are classified into various types such as Janaka, Janya, and Upanga.
- Janaka ragas are the “parent” ragas from which many other ragas are derived.
- Janya ragas are derived from Janaka ragas and are its “children”
- Upanga ragas are Janya ragas that have been modified or adapted in some way.
In music there are ten thaats and in music seventy-two Melakartha ragas.
are also accompanied by , which is the rhythmic pattern that serves as the foundation for the composition or improvisation. Each is characterized by a specific number of beats and a specific time-cycle.
In Indian classical music, a is a rhythmic cycle that serves as the foundation for a composition or improvisation. It is characterized by a specific number of beats and a specific time-cycle and is usually indicated by a specific hand or finger gesture called a “kriya” that is used by the percussionist to signal the start of each cycle.
Tala is an integral part of Indian classical music and is used in both and music traditions. The use of tala creates a structure for the improvisation and composition by providing a framework for the musicians to build their improvisations around.
In music, talas are classified into four main categories: Trital, Dhamar, Ek tal, and Jhaptal.
In music, talas are classified into three main categories: Tisra, Chatusra, and Misra.
Each has its own specific name, such as Dadra, Jhaptal, and Rupak in Hindustani music and Adi, Rupaka, and Triputa in music.
The use of requires a high level of skill and practice to master, as the musician must be able to keep a steady beat while also improvising and adapting to the other musicians in the ensemble.
, also known as a microtone, is a musical interval that is equal to one-fourth of a semitone. In Indian music, quarter tones are used to express subtle inflections in melody and are an integral part of the melodic system. These subtle melodic nuances are often used to create a sense of tension and release and to create a feeling of improvisation. Quarter tones are also used to create a more complex texture in ragas, or melodic forms, by adding additional notes to a particular phrase. Quarter tones and microtones are used extensively in Northern Indian classical music, where a raga is composed with precise intonation and intricate ornamentation.
Microtones are tones that fall between the standard twelve-note chromatic scale. In Indian music, microtones are used to create a more subtle and nuanced sound. They are important in making (melodies) and (rhythmic cycles) more expressive.
can be used to make a note sound higher or lower than it would on the standard twelve-note chromatic scale, which can result in a more complex and emotive sound. Indian music also makes use of vibrato, which is a slight fluctuation in pitch. This creates a more complex sound and can be used to add expression and emphasis to a performance.
TIMBRE AND INSTRUMENTS IN INDIAN MUSIC
Indian classical music is traditionally performed on a variety of instruments, many of which have been in use for centuries. Some of the most used instruments in Indian classical music include:
: A long-necked string instrument with a large number of strings that is played with a plectrum (mizrab) and is commonly used in Hindustani music.
: A string instrument with a deep, mellow tone that is played with a plectrum (jawari) and is commonly used in Hindustani music.
: A pair of small hand drums that are played with the fingers and palms and are used to provide the rhythm in Indian classical music.
A small reed organ that is played with the fingers and is used to provide accompaniment in Indian classical music.
: A double-headed drum that is played with the hands and is commonly used in music.
: A clay pot that is played with the hands and is commonly used in music.
: A tambourine-like instrument that is played with the hands and is commonly used in music.
: A bowed string instrument that is played with a bow and is commonly used in both Hindustani and Carnatic music.
: A wind instrument that is played by blowing into a hole and is commonly used in both Hindustani and Carnatic music.
: A bowed string instrument that is played with a bow and is commonly used in Hindustani music.
These are just some of the instruments commonly used in Indian classical music, and there are many more instruments that are used depending on the specific style and tradition of music.
Review what you know about Indian instruments by watching this short video:
Texture in Indian Music
In Indian music, refers to the way in which the different musical elements of a piece are arranged and combined. There are several different types of texture found in Indian music, including:
Monophonic: A monophonic texture is one in which a single melody is played or sung. This is often the case in traditional Indian vocal music, where a solo vocalist sings a melody accompanied by a or a simple percussion instrument.
Polyphonic: A polyphonic texture is one in which multiple melodies are played or sung simultaneously. This is less common in Indian music, but can be found in some forms of Indian classical music, such as the South Indian carnatic music where there is a use of counterpoint melodies.
Homophonic: A homophonic texture is one in which multiple voices or instruments play or sing the same melody simultaneously, but with slightly different variations. This type of texture is common in Indian classical music, particularly in ensemble performances where multiple instruments play the same melody in a coordinated manner.
Heterophonic: A heterophonic texture is one in which multiple voices or instruments play or sing the same melody simultaneously, but with slightly different variations. This is a common feature in Indian classical music, particularly in improvisation, where the musicians play the same melody with different nuances.
Drone: is a constant and unchanging sound that provides a foundation for the melody to be played or sung. The use of drone is common in Indian classical music, particularly in vocal music where the drone is provided by a tanpura or a sruti box.
Overall, Indian music is known for its rich and diverse textures, which are created through the combination of different musical elements such as melody, rhythm, and timbre.
Form in Indian Music
COMPOSITION AND IMPROVISATION
Indian music has long been a form of both composition and improvisation. Improvisation is a key element of Indian music culture and is often embedded within composed pieces. It is said that improvisation is the soul of Indian music, and it is often used to create a unique and individual sound. Improvisation is used to express emotion and creativity, and to emphasize the beauty of the melody.
Composition is also an important part of Indian music. Indian composers create melodies and rhythms that are unique to the particular genre of music. These compositions can range from simple classic ragas to complex and intricate pieces. Composers strive to create music that is both beautiful and meaningful, and which reflects the culture and values of the society.
In Indian music, composition and improvisation often come together to create music that is both meaningful and creative. This combination of composition and improvisation is what makes Indian music so special and unique.
Genres in Indian Music
music is one of the two main traditions of Indian classical music, the other being music. It originated in the northern regions of India and is characterized by its use of improvisation and the influence of devotional and Sufi music. It is also known for its use of a wide range of musical scales, called , and its use of talas, which are rhythmic patterns. music is traditionally performed on a variety of instruments, including the , sarod, , and . It is also often accompanied by singing, with the main vocal forms being khayal, thumri, and dhrupad.
There are several different genres of Indian music, including classical, folk, and . Classical Indian music is divided into two main traditions: and . Hindustani music is primarily associated with the northern regions of India, while Carnatic music is primarily associated with the southern regions. Folk music is also diverse, with different styles and traditions found throughout the country. music, also known as music, is a popular genre in India and is often based on a fusion of traditional and Western styles.
Folk music in India is an ancient and varied form of music that has been passed down for generations and is deeply connected to the culture, customs, and beliefs of the people of India. It is an integral part of the social, religious, and cultural life of India, and is made up of songs, stories, and poems that are sung and performed in villages, towns, and cities throughout the country. Folk music reflects the lives of the people, capturing their joys, sorrows, and struggles. It is performed at festivals and other special occasions and can be heard in many different styles and forms, including those of classical, devotional, and Sufi music. Folk music often has a strong regional flavor and is usually accompanied by traditional instruments such as drums, , and strings.
music, also known as Hindi film music, is the music composed for the Indian film industry, known as Bollywood. Bollywood music is heavily influenced by Indian classical music and has incorporated many western musical styles. It is quite eclectic, and often combines elements of different musical genres, such as Indian classical music, folk music, qawwali, and modern electronic music. Bollywood songs typically make use of a variety of musical instruments, including guitars, :, :, synthesizers, and drums. music is often romantic and upbeat and is often used to underscore the emotions of a scene in a movie.n about contemporary Bollywood music.
- AR Rahman
- Lata Mangeshkar
- A. R. Rehman
- R. D. Burman
- Zakir Hussain
- Kishore Kumar
- Ustad Bismillah Khan
- Pandit Ravi Shankar
- Bhimsen Joshi
- Hariprasad Chaurasia
Watch this video to review what you learned:
, on the other hand, is primarily associated with the southern regions of India, particularly in the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala.
is centered around the vocal music, and it is based on a system of (melodic modes) and s (rhythmic cycles). It is known for its complex and intricate melodies, as well as its use of rhythmic patterns and improvisation.
Instruments commonly used in music include the , , and the .
music is also accompanied by singing, with the main vocal forms being keerthanam, varnam, and kriti.
music is traditionally performed during religious and spiritual ceremonies and festivals. It is also taught and studied in specialized schools called sangeetha vidyalayas or sabhas and it has a strong tradition of oral transmission.
Differences between north and south Indian music:
- North Indian music is based on classical and is usually more focused on the tonal aspects of music, while South Indian music is based on the system and is more rhythmically oriented.
- North Indian music is mainly performed on the stringed instruments such as the :, , and , while South Indian music is mainly performed on the wind instruments such as the , and .
- North Indian music is usually more lyrical and melodic, while South Indian music is more rhythmic and percussive.
- North Indian music is typically accompanied by a :, while South Indian music is usually accompanied by a .
Watch this video to review the differences between Hindustani and Carnatic music:
OTHER GENRES and THEIR INFLUENCE ON WESTERN MUSIC
Secular music in India is mainly derived from the influence of different cultures and traditions that have been brought to the country through the centuries. It includes the music of the many folk traditions present in the country, as well as the music of the various historical periods, such as the classical period. Popular genres of secular music in India include music, Indian fusion music, Indi-pop, and rock.
Religious music in India has been an integral part of the culture since ancient times. It is closely linked to various religious practices and beliefs, and is performed in temples, shrines, and other places of worship. It is also used in ceremonies and festivals, as a form of devotion and meditation. Popular genres of religious music in India include bhajan, kirtan, qawwali, and shloka.
Ravi Shankar was an Indian musician and composer who popularized the :, a traditional Indian string instrument, and whose work helped bridge the gap between Indian and Western music. He was awarded three Grammy Awards and was named a Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor, in 1999. Shankar was born in Benares, India in 1920 and began studying music at a young age. He studied under the legendary singer Ustad Allauddin Khan and eventually became a master of the :. Shankar’s music was heavily influenced by Indian classical music, but he also incorporated elements from jazz and other genres to create a unique sound. He collaborated with many famous musicians, including George Harrison, Philip Glass and Yehudi Menuhin, and performed concerts around the world. Shankar passed away in 2012 at the age of 92.
Watch this video to learn more about Ravi Shankar and his :playing:
The Beatles began to explore Indian music during the mid-1960s, when they visited India and studied under the guidance of Ravi Shankar. George Harrison was particularly inspired by Indian culture and music, and incorporated elements of it into the Beatles’ sound, most notably on the song “Within You Without You” from the 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The influence of Indian music was also heard on other Beatles tracks, such as “Love You To” and “The Inner Light”, both of which featured :. Harrison went on to collaborate with Shankar and other Indian musicians throughout his solo career, and the influence of Indian music continued to be heard in modern Western music.
CENSORSHIP AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH
Music censorship in India is a contentious issue, with various groups and government bodies seeking to regulate or restrict certain types of music. The Indian government has the authority to censor music under the Cinematograph Act of 1952, which allows for the banning of films and songs deemed to be obscene or offensive. Additionally, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) is responsible for reviewing and censoring films and music videos. However, the laws and regulations surrounding music censorship in India are often criticized for being vague and inconsistent, and for being used to silence political dissent and minority voices.
Politics and music have been intertwined in India for many years, with various songs and performances being used to express political views and mobilize social and political movements. Many Indian musicians, particularly those in the film industry, have used their platform to promote political causes and ideologies.
Historically, Indian music has been used as a tool for political propaganda and mobilization. For example, during the Indian independence movement, patriotic songs were used to inspire and mobilize people to fight for freedom from British colonial rule.
In recent years, Indian music has also been used to comment on and critique current political issues and events, such as corruption, poverty, and inequality. Many musicians have used their music as a form of protest, and songs have been written and performed to raise awareness about these issues and to call for change.
Additionally, in Indian cinema, film music has been used as a means of promoting nationalistic sentiments and promoting a sense of national unity. The music often reflects the culture, values, and sentiments of the Indian society and reflects the social, economic and political climate of the time.
Overall, politics and music have a close relationship in India, with music often being used as a tool for political expression and social and political mobilization.
Colonialism had a significant impact on Indian music, as the British colonial government actively sought to suppress and control Indian musical traditions. The British viewed Indian music as inferior and primitive, and sought to replace it with Western classical music.
During the colonial period, the British government imposed strict regulations on Indian music and musicians. They banned certain instruments and styles of music, and established Western-style music schools and academies, which aimed to train Indian musicians in Western music. Many traditional Indian musicians were forced to change their styles or give up music altogether.
Despite these efforts to suppress Indian music, many traditional musicians continued to perform and pass on their music in secret. Some Indian musicians began to incorporate elements of Western music into their own compositions, creating new fusion styles of music.
In addition, Indian musicians who were trained in Western classical music began to compose music that reflected the Indian musical tradition and culture. These composers helped to preserve traditional Indian music and create a new musical style that reflected both the Indian and Western musical traditions.
Overall, colonialism had a significant impact on Indian music, as the British sought to control and suppress traditional Indian musical styles. However, Indian musicians continued to perform and preserve their music, and many adapted and incorporated elements of Western music into their own compositions, creating new fusion styles of music.
GENDER AND SEXUALITY
Gender roles in Indian music have traditionally been defined by societal norms and cultural expectations. In classical Indian music, for example, women were generally not encouraged to become professional musicians and were often relegated to singing devotional songs in the home. In popular music, women have been more visible as performers and songwriters, but they still often face challenges in the industry such as discrimination and sexual harassment.
However, there are also examples of female musicians who have broken through these barriers and achieved success in the Indian music industry. Women like Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, and K.S. Chithra, who have had a long and successful career in the music industry. And now, many female artists are breaking the traditional gender roles in music and making a name for themselves in the industry through their talents and hard work.
In Indian music, sexuality is often depicted using suggestive lyrics and imagery, as well as through the use of sensual rhythms and melodies. The themes of love, desire, and eroticism are common in both classical and popular Indian music and are often used to express the emotional and physical aspects of human relationships. Additionally, many Indian music traditions, particularly classical forms such as Kathak and Bharatanatyam, incorporate erotic gestures and movements into their performances, which are meant to convey the emotions and experiences of the characters in the stories being told through the music. Overall, sexuality plays an important role in Indian music as a means of expressing the full range of human emotions and experiences.
Some Web Resources for this Chapter
Classical music commonly associated with South India.
Classical music from the northern regions of India characterized by its use of improvisation and the influence of devotional and Sufi music.
Music used in Indian films blending classical, folk, and popular music; also known as Bollywood.
Music known also as India pop.
It combines Indian classical and folk music with Western pop music.
A melodic mode or framework that serves as the foundation for a composition or improvisation. It is characterized by a specific set of melodic rules and guidelines, including the use of certain notes, the order of the notes, and the way they are ornamented.
Rhythmic cycles used in Indian classical music.
A unit of time, the underlying pulse.
A system of modes in Arab music; Maqam system.
The pitches that fall between the standard Western twelve-note chromatic scale.
Tones that fall between the standard twelve-note chromatic scale.
A long-necked string instrument with a large number of strings that is played with a plectrum (mizrab) and is commonly used in Hindustani music.
A string instrument with a deep, mellow tone that is played with a plectrum (jawari) and is commonly used in Hindustani music.
A pair of small hand drums, played with the fingers and palms and are used to provide the rhythm in Indian classical music.
A small reed organ played with the fingers and used to provide accompaniment in Indian classical music.
A double-headed drum.
A drum made of an earthen pot.
A tambourine-like instrument.
A bowed string instrument played with a bow and commonly used in both Hindustani and Carnatic music.
A wind instrument played by blowing into a hole and commonly used in both Hindustani and Carnatic music.
A bowed string instrument played with a bow and commonly used in Hindustani music.
The overall density and complexity of the music, whether it is thick or thin.
A constant and unchanging sound that provides a foundation for the melody to be played or sung.
Also known filmi and Hindi film music, is the music composed for the Indian film industry, known as Bollywood.
A genre mostly from the Maghreb region (Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco) and characterized by its use of the guembri (a type of lute) and the use of poetry that reflects the social issues and people's daily life.
A long-necked plucked string instrument playing a drone.
A double-reed wind instrument from South India.
Musical instrument made of wood, with a double reed at one end and a metal or wooden flared bell at the other end.