Portal:Indian classical music

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Introduction

An Indian classical music performance.

Indian classical music is a genre of music from the Indian subcontinent. It has two major traditions: the North Indian classical music tradition is called Hindustani, while the South Indian expression is called Carnatic. These traditions were not distinct till about the 16th century. There on, during the turmoils of Islamic rule period of the Indian subcontinent, the traditions separated and evolved into distinct forms. Hindustani music emphasizes improvisation and exploring all aspects of a raga, while Carnatic performances tend to be short and composition-based. However, the two systems continue to have more common features than differences.

The roots of the classical music of India are found in the Vedic literature of Hinduism and the ancient Natyashastra, the classic Sanskrit text on performance arts by Bharata Muni. The 13th century Sanskrit text Sangita-Ratnakara of Sarangadeva is regarded as the definitive text by both the Hindustani music and the Carnatic music traditions.

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Ram Narayan in 2007
Pictured left: Ram Narayan in 2007

Ram Narayan (born 1927) is an Indian musician who popularized the bowed instrument sarangi as a solo concert instrument in Hindustani classical music and became the first internationally successful sarangi player. Narayan was born in Udaipur and learned to play the sarangi at an early age. He studied under sarangi players and singers and, as a teenager, worked as a music teacher and traveling musician. All India Radio, Lahore, hired Narayan as an accompanist for vocalists in 1944. He moved to Delhi following the partition of India in 1947, but wishing to go beyond accompaniment and frustrated with his supporting role, Narayan moved to Mumbai in 1949 to work in Indian cinema. After an unsuccessful attempt in 1954, Narayan became a concert solo artist in 1956, and later gave up accompaniment. He recorded solo albums and began to tour America and Europe in the 1960s. Narayan taught Indian and foreign students and performed, frequently outside of India, into the 2000s. He was awarded India's second highest civilian honor, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2005.


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Carnatic music is a system of music commonly associated with the southern part of the Indian subcontinent, with its area roughly confined to four modern states of India: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. It is one of two main subgenres of Indian classical music that evolved from ancient Hindu traditions; the other subgenre being Hindustani music, which emerged as a distinct form because of Persian and Islamic influences in North India. In contrast to Hindustani music, the main emphasis in Carnatic music is on vocal music; most compositions are written to be sung, and even when played on instruments, they are meant to be performed in gāyaki (singing) style.

Although there are stylistic differences, the basic elements of śruti (the relative musical pitch), swara (the musical sound of a single note), rāga (the mode or melodic formulæ), and tala (the rhythmic cycles) form the foundation of improvisation and composition in both Carnatic and Hindustani music. Although improvisation plays an important role, Carnatic music is mainly sung through compositions, especially the kriti (or kirtanam), a form developed between the 16th and 20th centuries by composers such as Purandara Dasa and the Trinity of Carnatic music.

Carnatic music is usually performed by a small ensemble of musicians, consisting of a principal performer (usually a vocalist), a melodic accompaniment (usually a violin), a rhythm accompaniment (usually a mridangam), and a tambura, which acts as a drone throughout the performance. Other typical instruments used in performances may include the ghatam, kanjira, morsing, veena & flute.


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