Music of India
|Music of India|
A Lady Playing the Tanpura, c. 1735 (Rajasthan)
|Media and performance|
|Nationalistic and patriotic songs|
|National anthem||Jana Gana Mana|
|Part of a series on the|
The music of India includes multiple varieties of classical music, folk music, filmi, Indian rock and Indian pop. India's classical music tradition, including Hindustani music and Carnatic, has a history spanning millennia and developed over several areas. Music in India began as an integral part of socio-religious life.
- 1 History
- 2 Classical music
- 3 Light classical music
- 4 Folk music
- 5 Popular music
- 6 Jazz and blues
- 7 Western classical music
- 8 Patriotism and music
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
Dancing Girl sculpture (2500 BCE) was found from the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) site. There are IVC-era paintings on pottery of a man with a dhol hanging from his neck and a woman holding a drum under her left arm.
Vedas (c. 1500 – c. 800 BCE Vedic period) document rituals with performing arts and play. For example, Shatapatha Brahmana (~800–700 BCE) has verses in chapter 13.2 written in the form of a play between two actors. Tala or taal is an ancient music concept traceable to Vedic era texts of Hinduism, such as the Samaveda and methods for singing the Vedic hymns. Smriti (500 BCE to 100 BCE ) post-vedic Hindu texts include Valmiki's Ramayana (500 BCE to 100 BCE) which mentions dance and music (dance by Apsaras such as Urvashi, Rambha, Menaka, Tilottama Panchāpsaras, and Ravana's wives excelling in nrityageeta or "singing and dancing" and nritavaditra or "playing musical instruments"), music and singing by Gandharvas, several string instruments (vina, tantri, vipanci and vallaki similar to veena), wind instruments (shankha, venu and venugana - likely a mouth organ made by tying several flutes together), raga (including kaushika such as raag kaushik dhwani), vocal registers (seven svara or sur, ana or ekashurti drag note, murchana the regulated rise and fall of voice in matra and tripramana three-fold teen taal laya such as drut or quick, madhya or middle, and vilambit or slow), poetry recitation in Bala Kanda and also in Uttara Kanda by Luv and Kusha in marga style.
Madhava Kandali, 14th century Assamese poet and writer of Saptakanda Ramayana, lists several instruments in his version of "Ramayana", such as mardala, khumuchi, bhemachi, dagar, gratal, ramtal, tabal, jhajhar, jinjiri, bheri mahari, tokari, dosari, kendara, dotara, vina, rudra-vipanchi, etc. (meaning that these instruments existed since his time in 14th century or earlier).
The two main traditions of Indian classical music are Carnatic music, which is found predominantly in the peninsular regions, and Hindustani music, which is found in the northern, eastern and central regions. The basic concepts of this music includes shruti (microtones), swaras (notes), alankar (ornamentations), raga (melodies improvised from basic grammars), and tala (rhythmic patterns used in percussion). Its tonal system divides the octave into 22 segments called Shrutis, not all equal but each roughly equal to a quarter of a whole tone of the Western music.
The tradition of Hindustani music dates back to Vedic times where the hymns in the Sama Veda, an ancient religious text, were sung as Samagana and not chanted. It diverged from Carnatic music around the 13th-14th centuries CE, primarily due to Islamic influences. Developing a strong and diverse tradition over several centuries, it has contemporary traditions established primarily in India but also in Pakistan and Bangladesh. In contrast to Carnatic music, the other main Indian classical music tradition originating from the South, Hindustani music was not only influenced by ancient Hindu musical traditions, historical Vedic philosophy and native Indian sounds but also enriched by the Persian performance practices of the Mughals. Classical genres are dhrupad, dhamar, khyal, tarana and sadra, and there are also several semi-classical forms.
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Carnatic music can be traced to the 14th - 15th centuries AD and thereafter. It originated in South India during the rule of Vijayanagar Empire. Like Hindustani music, it is melodic, with improvised variations, but tends to have more fixed compositions. It consists of a composition with improvised embellishments added to the piece in the forms of Raga Alapana, Kalpanaswaram, Neraval and, in the case of more advanced students, Raga, Tala, Pallavi. The main emphasis is on the vocals as most compositions are written to be sung, and even when played on instruments, they are meant to be performed in a singing style (known as gāyaki). Around 300 ragams are in use today. Annamayya is the first known composer in Carnatic music. He is widely regarded as the Andhra Pada kavitā Pitāmaha (Godfather of Telugu song-writing). Purandara Dasa is considered the father of Carnatic music, while the later musicians Tyagaraja, Shyama Shastry and Muthuswami Dikshitar are considered the trinity of Carnatic music.
Noted artists of Carnatic music include Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar (the father of the current concert format), Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Palaghat K.V. Narayanaswamy, Alathur Brothers, MS Subbulakshmi, Lalgudi Jayaraman and more recently Balamuralikrishna, TN Seshagopalan, K J Yesudas, N. Ramani, Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Manipallavam K.Sarangan, Balaji Shankar, TM Krishna, Bombay Jayashri, T S Nandakumar, Aruna Sairam Mysore Manjunath.
Carnatic music has served as the foundation for most music in South India, including folk music, festival music and has also extended its influence to film music in the past 100–150 years or so.
Light classical music
There are many types of music which comes under the category of light classical or semi-classical. Some of the forms are Thumri, Dadra, Ghazal, Chaiti, Kajri, Tappa, Natya Sangeet and Qawwali. These forms place emphasis on explicitly seeking emotion from the audience, as opposed to the classical forms.
Rabindra Sangeet (music of Bengal)
Rabindra Sangeet (Bengali: রবীন্দ্রসঙ্গীত Robindro Shonggit, Bengali pronunciation: [ɾobind̪ɾo ʃoŋɡit̪]), also known as Tagore songs, are songs written and composed by Rabindranath Tagore. They have distinctive characteristics in the music of Bengal, popular in India and Bangladesh. "Sangeet" means music, "Rabindra Sangeet" means music (or more aptly songs) of Rabindra.
Bihu of Assam
Bihu (Assamese: বিহু) is the festival of New Year of Assam falling on mid-April. This is a festival of nature and mother earth where the first day is for the cows and buffaloes. The second day of the festival is for the man. Bihu dances and songs accompanied by traditional drums and wind instruments are an essential part of this festival. Bihu songs are energetic and with beats to welcome the festive spring. Assamese drums (dhol), Pepa(usually made from buffalo horn), Gogona are major instruments used. 
Sufi folk rock / Sufi rock
Sufi folk rock contains elements of modern hard rock and traditional folk music with Sufi poetry. While it was pioneered by bands like Junoon in Pakistan it became very popular, especially in north India. In 2005, Rabbi Shergill released a Sufi rock song called "Bulla Ki Jaana", which became a chart-topper in India and Pakistan. More recently, the sufi folk rock song "Bulleya" from the 2016 film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil became a mammoth hit.
Dandiya or Raas is a form of Gujarati cultural dance that is performed with sticks. The present musical style is derived from the traditional musical accompaniment to the folk dance. It is practiced mainly in the state of Gujarat. There is also another type of dance and music associated with Dandiya/Raas called Garba.
Uttarakhandi folk music had its root in the lap of nature and the hilly terrain of the region. Common themes in the folk music of Uttarakhand are the beauty of nature, various seasons, festivals, religious traditions, cultural practices, folk stories, historical characters, and the bravery of ancestors. The folk songs of Uttarakhand are a reflection of the cultural heritage and the way people live their lives in the Himalayas. Musical instruments used in Uttarakhand music include the Dhol, Damoun, Turri, Ransingha, Dholki, Daur, Thali, Bhankora and Masakbhaja. Tabla and Harmonium are also sometimes used, especially in recorded folk music from the 1960s onwards. Generic Indian and global musical instruments have been incorporated in modern popular folks by singers like Narendra Singh Negi, Mohan Upreti, Gopal Babu Goswami, and Chandra Singh Rahi.
Lavani comes from the word Lavanya which means "beauty". This is one of the most popular forms of dance and music that is practiced all over Maharashtra. It has, in fact, become a necessary part of the Maharashtrian folk dance performances. Traditionally, the songs are sung by female artists, but male artists may occasionally sing Lavanis. The dance format associated with Lavani is known as Tamasha. Lavani is a combination of traditional song and dance, which particularly performed to the enchanting beats of 'Dholaki', a drum-like instrument. The dance is performed by attractive women wearing nine-yard saris. They are sung in a quick tempo. Lavani originated in the arid region of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
Rajasthan has a very diverse cultural collection of musician castes, including Langas, Sapera, Bhopa, Jogi and Manganiyar (lit. "the ones who ask/beg"). Rajasthan Diary quotes it as a soulful, full-throated music with harmonious diversity. The melodies of Rajasthan come from a variety of instruments. The stringed variety includes the Sarangi, Ravanahatha, Kamayacha, Morsing and Ektara. Percussion instruments come in all shapes and sizes from the huge Nagaras and Dhols to the tiny Damrus. The Daf and Chang are a favorite of Holi (the festival of colours) revelers. Flutes and bagpipers come in local flavors such as Shehnai, Poongi, Algoza, Tarpi, Been and Bankia.
Rajasthani music is derived from a combination of string instruments, percussion instruments and wind instruments accompanied by renditions of folk singers. It enjoys a respectable presence in Bollywood music as well.
The biggest form of Indian popular music is filmi, or songs from Indian films, it makes up 72% of the music sales in India. The film industry of India supported music by according reverence to classical music while utilising the western orchestration to support Indian melodies. Music composers, like R. D. Burman, Shankar Jaikishan, S. D. Burman, Madan Mohan, Naushad Ali, O. P. Nayyar, Hemant Kumar, C. Ramchandra, Salil Chowdhury, Kalyanji Anandji, Ilaiyaraaja, A. R. Rahman, Jatin Lalit, Anu Malik, Nadeem-Shravan, Harris Jayaraj, Himesh Reshammiya, Vidyasagar, Shankar Ehsaan Loy, Salim-Sulaiman, Pritam, M.S. Viswanathan, K. V. Mahadevan, Ghantasala and S. D. Batish employed the principles of harmony while retaining classical and folk flavor. Reputed names in the domain of Indian classical music like Ravi Shankar, Vilayat Khan, Ali Akbar Khan and Ram Narayan have also composed music for films. Traditionally, in Indian films, the voice for the songs is not provided by the actors, they are provided by the professional playback singers, to sound more developed, melodious and soulful, while actors lipsynch on the screen. In the past, only a handful of singers provided the voice in Hindi films. These include K. J. Yesudas, Mohammed Rafi, Mukesh, S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, T.M. Soundararajan, Hemant Kumar, Manna Dey, P. Susheela, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, K.S. Chitra, Geeta Dutt, S. Janaki, Shamshad Begum, Suraiya, Noorjahan and Suman Kalyanpur. Recent playback singers include Udit Narayan, Kumar Sanu, Kailash Kher, Alisha Chinai, KK, Shaan, Madhushree, Shreya Ghoshal, Nihira Joshi, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Hariharan (singer), Ilaiyaraaja, A.R. Rahman, Sonu Nigam, Sukhwinder Singh, Kunal Ganjawala, Anu Malik, Sunidhi Chauhan, Anushka Manchanda, Raja Hasan, Arijit Singh and Alka Yagnik. Rock bands like Indus Creed, Indian Ocean, Silk Route and Euphoria have gained mass appeal with the advent of cable music television.
Interaction with non-Indian music
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, rock and roll fusions with Indian music were well known throughout Europe and North America. Ali Akbar Khan's 1955 performance in the United States was perhaps the beginning of this trend.
Jazz pioneers such as John Coltrane—who recorded a composition entitled 'India' during the November 1961 sessions for his album Live At The Village Vanguard (the track was not released until 1963 on Coltrane's album Impressions)—also embraced this fusion. George Harrison (of the Beatles) played the sitar on the song "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" in 1965, which sparked interest from Shankar, who subsequently took Harrison as his apprentice. Jazz innovator Miles Davis recorded and performed with musicians like Khalil Balakrishna, Bihari Sharma, and Badal Roy in his post-1968 electric ensembles. Virtuoso jazz guitarist John McLaughlin spent several years in Madurai learning Carnatic music and incorporated it into many of his acts including Shakti which featured prominent Indian musicians. Other Western artists such as the Grateful Dead, Incredible String Band, the Rolling Stones, the Move and Traffic soon incorporated Indian influences and instruments, and added Indian performers. Legendary Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia joined guitarist Sanjay Mishra on his classic CD "Blue Incantation" (1995). Mishra also wrote an original score for French Director Eric Heumann for his film Port Djema (1996) which won best score at Hamptons film festival and The Golden Bear at Berlin. in 2000 he recorded Rescue with drummer Dennis Chambers (Carlos Santana, John McLaughlin et al.) and in 2006 Chateau Benares with guests DJ Logic and Keller Williams (guitar and bass).
Though the Indian music craze soon died down among mainstream audiences, die-hard fans and immigrants continued the fusion. In 1985, a beat-oriented, Raga Rock hybrid called Sitar Power by Ashwin Batish reintroduced sitar in western nations. Sitar Power drew the attention of a number of record labels and was snapped up by Shanachie Records of New Jersey to head their World Beat Ethno Pop division.
In the late 1980s, Indian-British artists fused Indian and Western traditions to make the Asian Underground. Since the 1990s, Canadian born musician Nadaka who has spent most of his life in India, has been creating music that is an acoustic fusion of Indian classical music with western styles. One such singer who has merged the Bhakti sangeet tradition of India with the western non-Indian music is Krishna Das and sells music records of his musical sadhana. Another example is the Indo-Canadian musician Vandana Vishwas who has experimented with western music in her 2013 album Monologues.
In the new millennium, American hip-hop has featured Indian filmi and bhangra. Mainstream hip-hop artists have sampled songs from Bollywood movies and have collaborated with Indian artists. Examples include Timbaland's "Indian Flute", Erick Sermon and Redman's "React", Slum Village's "Disco", and Truth Hurts' hit song "Addictive", which sampled a Lata Mangeshkar song, and The Black Eyed Peas sampled Asha Bhosle's song "Yeh Mera Dil" in their hit single "Don't Phunk With My Heart". In 1997, the British band Cornershop paid tribute to Asha Bhosle with their song Brimful of Asha, which became an international hit. British-born Indian artist Panjabi MC also had a Bhangra hit in the U.S. with "Mundian To Bach Ke" which featured rapper Jay-Z. Asian Dub Foundation are not huge mainstream stars, but their politically charged rap and punk rock influenced sound has a multi-racial audience in their native UK. In 2008, international star Snoop Dogg appeared in a song in the film Singh Is Kinng. In 2007, hip-hop producer Madlib released Beat Konducta Vol 3–4: Beat Konducta in India; an album which heavily samples and is inspired by the music of India.
Sometimes, the music of India will fuse with the traditional music of other countries. For example, Delhi 2 Dublin, a band based in Canada, is known for fusing Indian and Irish music, and Bhangraton is a fusion of Bhangra music with reggaeton, which itself is a fusion of hip hop, reggae, and traditional Latin American music.
In a more recent example of Indian-British fusion, Laura Marling along with Mumford and Sons collaborated in 2010 with the Dharohar Project on a four-song EP. The British band Bombay Bicycle Club also sampled the song "Man Dole Mera Tan Dole" for their single "Feel".
Indian pop music
Indian pop music is based on an amalgamation of Indian folk and classical music, and modern beats from different parts of the world. Pop music really started in the South Asian region with the playback singer Ahmed Rushdi's song ‘Ko Ko Korina’ in 1966, followed initially by Mohammad Rafi in the late 1960s and then by Kishore Kumar in the early 1970s.
After that, much of Indian Pop music comes from the Indian Film Industry, and until the 1990s, few singers like Usha Uthup, Sharon Prabhakar, and Peenaz Masani outside it were popular. Since then, pop singers in the latter group have included Daler Mehndi, Baba Sehgal, Alisha Chinai, KK, Shantanu Mukherjee a.k.a. Shaan, Sagarika, Colonial Cousins (Hariharan, Lesle Lewis), Lucky Ali, and Sonu Nigam, and music composers like Zila Khan or Jawahar Wattal, who made top selling albums with, Daler Mehndi, Shubha Mudgal, Baba Sehgal, Shweta Shetty and Hans Raj Hans.
Besides those listed above, popular Indi-pop singers include Gurdas Maan, Sukhwinder Singh, Papon, Zubeen Garg, Raghav Sachar Rageshwari, Vandana Vishwas, Devika Chawla, Bombay Vikings, Asha Bhosle, Sunidhi Chauhan, Anushka Manchanda, Bombay Rockers, Anu Malik, Jazzy B, Malkit Singh, Raghav, Jay Sean, Juggy D, Rishi Rich, Sheila Chandra, Bally Sagoo, Punjabi MC, Bhangra Knights, Mehnaz, Sanober and Vaishali Samant.
Recently, Indian pop has taken an interesting turn with the "remixing" of songs from past Indian movie songs, new beats being added to them.
Rock and metal music
Raga rock is rock or pop music with a heavy Indian influence, either in its construction, its timbre, or its use of instrumentation, such as the sitar and tabla. Raga and other forms of classical Indian music began to influence many rock groups during the 1960s; most famously the Beatles. The first traces of "raga rock" can be heard on songs such as "See My Friends" by the Kinks and the Yardbirds' "Heart Full of Soul", released the previous month, featured a sitar-like riff by guitarist Jeff Beck. The Beatles song "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)", which first appeared on the band's 1965 album Rubber Soul, was the first western pop song to actually incorporate the sitar (played by lead guitarist George Harrison). The Byrds' March 1966 single "Eight Miles High" and its B-side "Why" were also influential in originating the musical subgenre. Indeed, the term "raga rock" was coined by The Byrds' publicist in the press releases for the single and was first used in print by journalist Sally Kempton in her review of "Eight Miles High" for The Village Voice. George Harrison's interest in Indian music, popularised the genre in the mid-1960s with songs such as "Love You To", "Tomorrow Never Knows" (credited to Lennon-McCartney), "Within You Without You" and "The Inner Light". The rock acts of the sixties both in turn influenced British and American groups and Indian acts to develop a later form of Indian rock.
The rock music "scene" in India is small compared to the filmi or fusion musicality "scenes" but as of recent years has come into its own, achieving a cult status of sorts. Rock music in India has its origins in the 1960s when international stars such as the Beatles visited India and brought their music with them. These artists' collaboration with Indian musicians such as Ravi Shankar and Zakir Hussain have led to the development of raga rock. International shortwave radio stations such as The Voice of America, BBC, and Radio Ceylon played a major part in bringing Western pop, folk, and rock music to the masses. Indian rock bands began to gain prominence only much later, around the late 1980s.
It was around this time that the rock band Indus Creed formerly known as The Rock Machine got itself noticed on the international stage with hits like Rock N Roll Renegade. Other bands quickly followed. As of now, the rock music scene in India is quietly growing day by day and gathering more support. With the introduction of MTV in the early 1990s, Indians began to be exposed to various forms of rock such as grunge and speed metal. This influence can be clearly seen in many Indian bands today. The cities of the North Eastern Region, mainly Guwahati and Shillong, Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore have emerged as major melting pots for rock and metal enthusiasts. Bangalore has been the hub for rock and metal movement in India. Some prominent bands include Dorian Platonic, Nicotine, Cannibals, Phinix, Just, Voodoo Child, Rubella, Crystal Ann, Morgue, Indian Ocean, Kryptos, Pentagram, Thermal and a Quarter, Abandoned Agony, No Idea, Zero, Half Step Down, Scribe, Eastern Fare, Demonic Resurrection, Zygnema, Motherjane, Soulmate, Avial and Parikrama. The future looks encouraging thanks to entities such as Green Ozone, DogmaTone Records, Eastern Fare Music Foundation, that are dedicated to promoting and supporting Indian rock. From Central India, Nicotine, an Indore-based metal band, is widely credited of being the pioneer of metal music in the region.
Jazz and blues
Western classical music
The spread and following of Western classical music in India is almost entirely non-existent. It is mainly patronised by the Indian Zoroastrian community and small esoteric groups with historical exposure to Western classical music. Another esoteric group with significant patronage is the Protestant Christian community in Chennai and Bangalore. Western Music education is also severely neglected and pretty rare in India. Western keyboard, drums and guitar instruction being an exception as it has found some interest; mainly in an effort to create musicians to service contemporary popular Indian music. Many reasons have been cited for the obscurity of Western classical music in India, a country rich in its musical heritage by its own right, however, the two main reasons are an utter lack of exposure and a passive disinterest in what is considered esoteric at best. The difficulty in importing Western musical instruments and their rarity have also contributed to the obscurity of classical Western music.
Despite more than a century of exposure to Western classical music and two centuries of British colonialism, classical music in India has never gained more than 'fringe' popularity. Many attempts to popularise Western classical music in India have failed in the past due to disinterest and lack of sustained efforts. Today, Western classical music education has improved with the help of numerous institutions in India. Institutions like KM Music Conservatory (founded by Oscar-winning Composer A.R.Rahman), Calcutta School of Music, Bangalore School of Music, Eastern Fare Music Foundation, Delhi School of Music, UstadGah Foundation, Delhi Music Academy, Guitarmonk and many others are dedicated to contributing to the progress or growth and supporting Western classical music. In 1930, notable Mehli Mehta set up the Bombay Symphony Orchestra. There is 'Melody Academy' in Darjeeling established in the early 1980s by Mr. Jiwan Pradhan who single-handedly has brought the western music in the hills of Darjeeling which is very rich in its musical heritage.
The Bombay Chamber Orchestra (BCO) was founded in 1962.
In 2006, the Symphony Orchestra of India was founded, housed at the NCPA in Mumbai. It is today the only professional symphony orchestra in India and presents two concert seasons per year, with world-renowned conductors and soloists.
Some prominent Indians in Western classical music are:
- Andre de Quadros, conductor and music educator
- Zubin Mehta, conductor
- Mehli Mehta, father of Zubin, violinist and founding conductor of the Bombay Symphony Orchestra
- Anil Srinivasan, pianist
- Ilaiyaraaja, the first Indian to compose a full symphony performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London's Walthamstow Town Hall
- Naresh Sohal, British Indian-born composer
- Param Vir, British Indian-born composer
- Karishmeh Felfeli, Indian-born Irani pianist and radio broadcaster
Patriotism and music
Patriotic feelings have been instigated within Indians through music since the era of the freedom struggle. Jana Gana Mana, the national anthem of India by Rabindranath Tagore, is largely credited for uniting India through music and Vande Mataram by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay as the national song of India. Post-independence songs such as Aye mere watan ke logo, Mile Sur Mera Tumhara, Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo, Maa Tujhe Salaam by A.R.Rahman have been responsible for consolidating feelings of national integration and unity in diversity.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Music of India.|
- BBC Radio 3 Audio (45 minutes): The Nizamuddin shrine in Delhi. Accessed November 25, 2010.
- BBC Radio 3 Audio (45 minutes): A mahfil Sufi gathering in Karachi. Accessed November 25, 2010.
- BBC Radio 3 Audio (60 minutes): The Misra brothers perform Vedic chant. Accessed November 25, 2010.
- BBC Radio 3 Audio (60 minutes): Rikhi Ram and sons, Nizami brothers. Accessed November 25, 2010.
- BBC Radio 3 Audio (60 minutes): Rajasthan, Bombay and Trilok Gurtu. Accessed November 25, 2010.
- BBC Radio 3 Audio (45 minutes): Gujarat - Praful Dave. Accessed November 25, 2010.
- BBC Radio 3 Audio (45 minutes): Courtesan songs and music of the Bauls. Accessed November 25, 2010.
- BBC Radio 3 Audio (60 minutes): Music from the Golden Temple of Amritsar. Accessed November 25, 2010.
- India Music - The first ever Indian Music domain and website registered. Accessed May 17, 2014.
- (in English) (in French) Hindustani Rag Sangeet Online - A rare collection of more than 800 audio and video archives from 1902