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  • Music- soul of any culture.
  • India- long tradition of musical ingenuity.
  • Narada Muni (sage) - introduced music to earth & taught the inhabitants about a sound that pervades the whole universe called Naada brahma.
  • Musical instruments like seven-holed flute and Ravanahatha- recovered from sites of Indus Valley Civilization.
  • First literary traces of music- Vedic times (2000 years ago).
  • Santa Veda- lists all seven notes of the raga Kharaharapriya in descending order.
  • Gandharva Veda, science of music- Upaveda of Sama Veda.
  • Aitareya Aranyaka- mentions parts of Veena.
  • Jaimini Brahmana speaks of dance and music.
  • Kausitaki Brahmana puts dance, vocal & instrumental music together.
  • Theories state- Om is the source of all ragas and notes.
  • Panini (500 BCE)- made first proper reference to the art of making music.
  • Bharata’s Natyashastra(200 BC and 200 ADI- first reference to musical theory.
  • Development in music linked with devotional sites. This type of ritualistic music was Sangama (later Vedic period)- chanting of verses, set to musical patterns.
  • Epics were set to narrative type of music called Jatigan.

Indian Classical Music InstrumentsIndian Classical Music Instruments

  • Bharata’s Natyashastra: First work to clarify & elaborate on the subject of musicology. Has several important chapters on music, including those that identified octave and elaborated on its 22 keys. These 22 keys- shrutis or srutis. Distinction- made in Dathilam, a text that endorsed the existence of 22 srutis per octave and made the suggestion that may be these were the only one that a human body could make.The Bharata`s Natyashastra
    The Bharata's Natyashastra
  • Sarangadeva (13th century musicologist) who wrote classic text on music, the Sangeet Ratnakara, seconded this view.
  • His text- defined 264 ragas (from North Indian & Dravidian repertoires).
  • Its greatest contribution- identify & describe different ‘microtones’ & classify them into different categories.
  • Medieval texts on musicology focused on particular themes, for example:
    (i) Brihaddeshi (9th century by Matanga)- definition of ‘raga’.
    (ii) Sangeeta Makaranda filth century by Nanda)- enumerated 93 ragas & classified them into feminine and masculine forms.
    (iii) Swaramela-Kalanidhi (16th century by Ramamatya) - deals primarily with ragas.
    (iv) Chaturdandi-prakasika (17th century by Venkatamakhin) - important information on musicology.
  • Ancient & early medieval nerind- Gurukuls existed.
  • Gurukul System
    (i) Known as Ashram (hermitage system)
    (ii) Embodied Guru-shishya tradition
    (iii) Teachers or masters were sages
    (iv) Students lived in hermitage for 12 years
    (v) Hermitage was given patronage by kings & wealthy persons of the society.
    (vi) Life in hermitage- rigorous, pensive and full of knowledge
    (vii) There was no discrimination among students.
  • Influx of Islamic & Persian elements changed the face of North Indian music, for example, the Dhruvapad or devotional style of singing- transformed into Dhrupad style by 15th century & by 17th century, a new form of Hindustani music, Khayal had evolved.
  • More styles of ‘folk’ singing emerged in this period.

Anatomy of Indian Music

Three main pillars of Indian classical music:

1. Swara
2. Tala
3. Raga

Components of Raga:

(i) Rasa
(ii) Thaat
(iii) Samay 

1. Swara

  • Term “Swara”- associated with recitation of Vedas.
  • Term- also used to define ‘note’ or ‘scale degree’ in a composition.
  • In Natyasastra, Bharata has divided swaras into 22 notes scale.
  • Currently, Hindustani music is defined by Saptak or Sargam - Sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni.
  • He listed each nitch using the following names:
    Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1 | History for UPSC CSE
  • Swara cutters from Shruti.
  • Shruti or microtones - smallest gradation of pitch & are 22 in number out of which only 12 are audible.
  • These 12 are seven Suddha Swaras & five Vikrita Swaras.

2. Tala

  • Are rhythmic groupings of beats.
  • Rhythmical cycles range from three to 108 beats.
  • As per the concept of tala- musical time is divided into simple and complicated metres.
  • Theory of time measurement- not similar in Hindustani and Carnatic music.
  • Tala- unique point- independent of the music that accompanies it and has its own divisions.
  • Laya- tempo of tala, which keeps uniformity of time span.
  • Currently only 30 talas are known and only 10 to 12 talas are actually used.
  • Recognized & used talas- dadra, kaharba, rupak, ektal, jhaptal, Teental and Ada chautal.
  • Music composers- use teen-tal that uses 16 beats.
  • Carnatic music- more rigid structure unlike Hindustani music. And Tala (thala) are made of three components- laghu, dhrutam and ami dhrutam.
  • Original 35 thalas & each one can be further split into 5 ‘ghaatis’. So, there are 175 (35*5) thalas in Carnatic music.

3. Raga

  • Comes from Sanskrit word ‘ Ranj' means to delight or to make happy and satisfy a person.
  • Ragas- basis of melody, while tala- basis of rhythm.
  • Has distinct personality subject and the mood evoked by sounds.
  • Basic element for working of a raga is note on which they are based.
  • According to number of notes in the raga,here are three main jaatis or categories:
    (a) Audav/Odava Raga- ‘pentatonic’ raga, 5 notes
    (b) Shadava Raga- ‘hexatonic’ raga, 6 note
    (c) Sampurna Raga: ‘heptatonic’ raga, 7 notes
  • Raga- not a scale nor a mode but a scientific, precise, subtle and aesthetic melodic form with its own peculiar ascending and descending movement, which consists of either a full octave, or a series of 5 or 6 or 7 notes.
  • Three major types of Raga or Raga Bhed-
    (i) Shuddha Raag- if any notes that are absent from the composition are played, its nature and form does not change.
    (ii) Chhayalag Raag- if any notes that are not present in the original composition are played, its nature and form changes.
    (iii) Sankeerna Raag- there is a combination of two or more ragas.
  • Hence, every raga- should have basic 5 notes-
    (a) ‘King’- principal note on which raga is built- called ‘Vaadi’ & is used most often in composition.
    (b) ‘Queen’- fourth or fifth note in relation to the principal raga. Is the second most important note of the ‘raga’ & called ‘Samvaadi’.
    (c) All the other notes in the composition- Anuvaadi.
    (d) The notes that are not present in the composition are- Vivadi.
  • Ascent of notes is Aaroha, like Sa re sa ma pa dha ni.
  • Descent is Avaroha, where each note is lower than the preceding notes. For example, ni, dha, pa, ma, ga, re, sa.
  • Depending on ascent & descent of notes, ragas can be divided into three speeds or Laya- vilambit (slow); Madhya (medium) and drut (fast).
  • There are 72 melas or parent scales on which ragas are based.
  • There are six main ragas in Hindustani music, all of which are time and season specific and evoke a particular type of emotion:
    Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1 | History for UPSC CSE

(i) Rasa

  • Reason for creation of ragas- to evoke emotional responses.
  • These emotions, that are evoked- Rasas, also called ‘aesthetic delight’ as they are consciously made to feel an emotion through someone else’s art.
  • Initially- eight rasas, later one rasa called ‘shanta’ rasa was added to make nine rasas or ‘Nauras’. These are:
    Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1 | History for UPSC CSE
  • Alter 15th century- Bhakti (rasa ot devotion)- became widely accepted.
  • Musicologists argue - Bhakti and Shant rasa are one & the same
  • In Natyasastra, Bharata argue Madhyam- humorous instincts; Pancham- erotic feelings; Shadja- heroic feelings and Rishabh notes- wrathful instincts.

Question for Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1
Try yourself:Consider the following statements :
1. Raga forms the basis of Rhythm.
2. Tala becomes the basis of melody.
Which of the above is/are correct?
View Solution

(ii) Thaat

  • Isa system of classification of ragas in different groups.
  • Hindustani classical music- 10-Thaat classification.
  • V.N Bhatkhande (most important musicologists in the field of North Indian classical music) says-each one of the traditional ragas is based on, or is a variation of 10 basic thaats or musical scales or frameworks.
  • Can only be sung in aaroha- as notes are composed in ascending order.
  • Should have seven notes out of 12 notes (7 Suddha Swaras and 5 Vikrata Swaras) & should necessarily be placed in ascending order.
  • 10 thaats - Bilawal, Khamaj, Kafi, Asavari, Bhairavi, Bhairav, Kalyan, Marwa, Poorvi and Todi.
  • Has no emotional quality unlike raga and it isn’t sung.
  • Rasas produced from thaat are sung.

(iii) Samay

  • Each raga has a specific time at which it is performed because those notes are supposed to be more effective at that particular time.
  • 24 hours can be divided into two parts:
    i. From 12 AM to 12 PM: Poorva Bhaag & poorva raga is sung.
    ii. From 12 PM to 12 AM: Uttar Bhaag & Uttar raga is sung.
  • Saptak also changes according to the period of the day.
    In Poorvang period, saptak is from Sa to Ma (Sa, re, ga, ma)
    In Uttarang Deriod- saptak is from Pa to Sa (pa. dha. ni. sa)

Question for Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1
Try yourself:Consider the following statements:
1. There are five swaras or notes in total in Indian music.
2. Odava raga contains five notes or swaras.
Which of the above is/are correct?
View Solution

Other Components of the Raga

(a) Alap

  • Gradual exposition of raga & emphasizes on Vaadi, Samvaadi in slow tempo.
  • Sung in the beginning of the raga at the time of performance typically in North Indian classical music.
  • Usually sung in Aakaar, i.e., without pronouncing any syllables, only using sound ‘aa’ of the vowels.

(b) Composition: Divided into two parts in Hindustani classical music:
Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1 | History for UPSC CSE
(c) Taan: Basic notes m a fast tempo; are very technical & speed is an important factor in singing them.

  • Particular tans- sung in Akaar notes.
  • A short taan of 3 or 4 notes - Murki- sung very fast.

(d) Alankara: Specific melodic presentation in succession in which a pattern is followed.
Example In combination of notes ‘Sa re ga’, ‘ga ma pa’, ‘ma pa dha’, etc. In these combinations we see an alankar in which 3 notes in succession are used each time.
Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1 | History for UPSC CSE

Question for Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1
Try yourself:Which of the following is not among the nine rasas or emotional responses?
View Solution

Classification of Indian Music

  • The classification of Indian music is as follows:Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1 | History for UPSC CSE
  • Two schools of Indian classical music:
    1. Hindustani music: Northern parts of India.
    2. Carnatic music: Southern parts of India.

1. Hindustani Music

  • Historical roots of both schools belong to Bharata’s Natyasastra, but they diverged in 14th century. 
  • This branch- focuses more on musical structure and possibilities of improvisation. 
  • It adopted a scale of Shudha Swara Saptaka or the ‘Octave of Natural notes’.
  • It has ten main styles of singing like- ‘Dhrupad’, ‘Dhamar’, ‘Hori’, ‘Khayat, ‘Tappa’, ‘Chaturang’, ‘Ragasagar’, ‘Tarana’, ‘Sargam’ and ‘Thumri’. Some major schools are:

(i) Dhrupad 

  • Oldest and grandest forms.
  • Mentioned in Natyashastra (200 BC-200 AD).
  • Owes its roots to older forms like Prabhanda & Dhruvapada.
  • Name derived from ‘dhruva’ and ‘pada,’ means that it denotes both verse form of poetry & style in which it is sung.
  • Reached zenith- in Akbar’s court, who patronised musical masters like Baba Gopal Das, Swami Haridas and Tansen(was one of Navaratna or nine gems).
  • Baiju Bawra sang at the court of Akbar.
  • Singers who mastered Dhrupad were in the court of Raja Man Singh Tomar (Gwalior).
  • Major form of singing- medieval period.
  • But fell in a state of decline -18th century
  • Dhrupad- a poetic form that is incorporated into an extended presentation style that is marked by precise and overt elaboration of a raga.
  • Dhruva- means ‘unmoving’ and implies the return of Swara (tonal), Kala (time) and Shabda (textual) trajectories to a fixed point.
  • It starts with Alap.
  • Tempo rises gradually & forms a major part of the performance.
  • Is pure music without distraction of words
  • After some time Dhrupad begins & Pakhawaj is played.
  • Includes use of Sanskrit syllables & has a temple origin.
  • Includes 4 to 5 stanzas and are performed by a duo (generally male)
  • Tanpura and Pankhawaj accompany them.

Dhrupad singing divided into four forms on the basis of vanis or banis that they perform:
(a) Dagari Gharana 

  • sings in Dagar Vani.
  • puts great emphasis on alap.
  • have trained and performed
  • are Muslims but sing Hindu texts of Gods and Goddesses.
  • Example, Gundecha Brothers from Jaipur.

(b) Darbhanga Gharana

  • sing Khandar Vani and Gauhar Vani.
  • emphasise on the raga alap as well as improvised alap, made by incorporating a variety of layakari.
  • exponents: Mallik family (performing members- Ram Chatur Mallik, Prem Kumar Mallik and Siyaram Tewari).

(c) Bettiah Gharana

  •  Nauhar and Khandar vani styles
  • Exponents- the Mishras (living member who performs- Indra Kishore Mishra).
  • Dhrupad prevalent in Bettiah & Darbhanga schools- Haveli style.

(d) Talwandi Gharana

  • sing Khandar vani family based in Pakistan so difficult to keep that within the system of Indian music.

Question for Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1
Try yourself:Consider the following statements:
1. Antara is the first part of a musical composition.
2. Mukhada is the first line of a musical composition.
Which of the above is/are correct?
View Solution

  Gharana System

  • A system of social organisation linking musicians or dancers by lineage or apprenticeship, and by adherence to a particular musical style.
  • Word ‘gharana ’ comes from Urdu/Hindi word ‘ghar’, which means ‘family’ or ‘house’.
  • Refers to the place where the musical ideology originated.
  • Also indicates a comprehensive musicological ideology and differentiates one school from another.
  • Affects the thinking, teaching, performance and appreciation of music.
  • Well known gharanas- for Hindustani classical music- Agra, Gwalior, Indore, Jaipur, Kirana.
    Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1 | History for UPSC CSE

(i) Khyal

  • Derived from Persian and means “idea or imagination”.
  • Origin of this style- by Amir Khusrau.
  • Most popular form amongst artists as it provides greater scope for improvisation.
  • Based on repertoire of short songs ranging from two to eight lines.
  • Khyal composition- referred to as a ‘Bandish'.
  • Sultan Mohammad Sharqi- gave the biggest patronage to Khyal in 15th century.
  • Unique features- use of taan in the composition and giving less room to Alap, unlike Dhrupad.
  • A typical Khyal performance uses two songs:
    Bada Khyal: sung in the slow tempo
    Chhota Khyal: sung in the fast tempo
  • Theme for Khyal bandish- romantic in nature, even if they are related to divine creatures.
  • Khyal compositions- in praise of Lord Krishna.

The major Gharanas under Khyal music are:

(a) Gwalior Gharana

  • It is one of the oldest and the most elaborate Khyal Gharana.
  • Very rigorous as there is equal emphasis on melody and rhythm.
  • Singing is very complex Prefer to perform simple ragas.
  • Popular expounder- Nathu Khan and Vishnu Palushkar.

(b) Kirana Gharana

  • Named after town Kirana in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Founded by Nayak Gopal
  • Real credit for making it popular- Abdul Karim Khan and Abdul Wahid Khan (early
    20th century).
  • Famous for concern towards precise tuning and expression of notes.
  • Better known for mastery over slow tempo ragas.
  • Emphasise on melody of composition and the clarity of the pronunciation of the text in the song.
  • They prefer use of traditional ragas or the Sargam.
  • Most famous singers- Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and Gangubai Hangal.
  • Carnatic exponents from border regions of Maharashtra and Karnataka are also associated with this gharana.

(c) Agra Gharana

  • Historians say Khuda Baksh established it in 19th century
  • Musicologists say Haji Sujan Khan founded it.
  • Revived by Faiyaz Khan.
  • Renamed as Raneeela Gharana.
  • It is a blend of Kliyal & Dhrupad style.Artists give special emphasis to Bandish.
    Major expounders- Mohsin Khan Niazi and Vijay Kichlu.

(d) Patiala Gharana

  • Started by Bade Fateh Ali khan and Ali Baksh khan in 19th century.
  • Received initial sponsorship by Maharaja of Patiala(Punjab).
  • They gathered a reputation for ghazal, thumri & khayal.
  • Stress on use of greater rhythm.
  • Their compositions stress on emotions because they use ornamentation or alankaras in their music.
  • They stress on intricate tanas.
  • Most well known composer- Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Sahab (one of India’s greatest Hindustani classical vocalists who bridged the gap between vocals being limited to an elite audience).
  • He was well known for his rendition of the Raga Darbari.
  • Gharana is unique as it uses unique taans, gamak and gayaki of tarana style.

(e) Bhendibazaar Gharana

  • Founded by Chhajju Khan, Nazir Khan and Khadim Hussain Khan in 19th century.
  • The singers were trained to control their breath for a long period.
  • Artists could sing long passages in a single breath.
  • Are unique as some Carnatic ragas in their envious repertoire.

(ii) Tarana Style

  • Rhythm plays a very crucial role.
  • Structure is mainly melody, usually short, repeated many times, with variation and elaboration at performer’s discretion.
  • There is a second, contrasting melody with higher notes, which is introduced once before returning to the main melody.
  • Uses words that are sung at a fast tempo.
  • Singers need specialised training & skills in rhythmic manipulation.
  • World’s Fastest Tarana Singer - Pandit Rattan Mohan Sharma (Mewati Gharana) - In 2011 he was given the title of “Tarana ke Baadshah” (King of Tarana).

Semi-classical Styles of Hindustani Music

  • Based on swara (note).
  • Slightly deviate from standard structure of the raga because lighter version of ragas like Bhoopali or Malkaush are used.
  • Employ lighter version of tala and use madhyam or dhrut laya, i.e., they are faster in tempo.
  • Emphasize more on bhava and lyrics than alap-jod-tan-jhala.
  • Prominent semi-classical styles like thumri, tappa and ghazal are discussed below:

(a) Thumri

  • Based on mixed ragas.
  • Considered to be semi classical Indian music.
  • Compositions- either romantic or devotional.
  • Inspired by Bhakti movement so text revolves around girl’s love for Krishna.
  • Language of composition- Hindi or Awadhi dialect or the Braj Bhasha dialect.
  • Usually sung in a female voice.
  • Different from thumri and others because of its inherent sensuality.
  • Allows the singer to improvise during performance and so they have greater flexibility with use of raga.
  • Also used as generic name for some other, even lighter, forms such as Dadra, Hori, Kajari, Saavan, Jhoola, and Chaiti.

Two main types of thumri:
1. Purbi thumri: slower tempo.
2. Punjabi thumri: fast & lively tempo.

  • Its main Gharanas- Banaras and Lucknow.
  • Begum Akhtar- most timeless voice of singing thumri.

(b) Tappa

  • Rhythm plays a very important role.
  • Originated from folk songs of camel riders of North-West India.
  • Gained legitimacy as a semi-classical vocal speciality when brought to the Mughal court of emrieror Muhammad Shah.
  • Uses very quick turn of phrases.
  • Was genre of choice of wealthy elite as well as the classes with more modest means.
  • The “baithaki” style- evolved under patronage of elites of zamindari classes of late 19th & early 20th centuries in their baithak-khanas (literally, baithak - assembly, khana halls or salons) and jalsaghar (literally, halls for entertainment, mujra or nautch halls)
  • Now, style is getting extinct and no one is getting involved with it.
  • Few expounders of this style- Mian Sodi, Pandit Laxman Rao of Gwalior and Shanno Khurana.

(c) Ghazal

  • A poetic form that consists of rhyming couplets and a refrain, with each line sharing the same meter.
  • Poetic expression of - pain of loss or separation and beauty of love in spite of that pain.
  • Originated in Iran (10th century AD).
  • It never exceeds the 12 ashaar or couplets.
  • Spread in South Asia in 12th century due to the influence of Sufi mystics & courts of new Islamic Sultanate.
  • Zenith- Mughal period.
  • Amir Khusrau- first expounders of making Ghazal
  • Historical Ghazal poets were either Sufis themselves (like Rumi or Hafiz), or sympathizers with Sufi ideas.
  • Ghazal deals with just one subject: love, specifically an unconditional and superior love.
  • Ghazals from Indian sub-continent- an influence of Islamic Mysticism.
  • Had complex lyrics which required education
  • With years passed, ghazal has undergone some simplification which helps it to reach a larger audience.
  • Most of the ghazals- sung in styles not limited to khyal, thumri, raga and other classical and light classical genres.
  • Famous persons- Muhammad Iqbal, Mirza Ghalib, Rumi (13th century), Hafez (14th century), Kazi Nazrul Islam, etc.

Question for Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1
Try yourself:Consider the following statements:
1. In Aaroha, each note is higher than the preceding note.
2. In Avaroha, each note is lower than the preceding note.
Which of the above is/are correct?
View Solution

2. Carnatic Music

  • Creates music that is played in traditional octave. 
  • The music is kriti, which focuses more on saahitya or lyric quality of the musical piece and is a highly evolvedmusical song set to a certain raga and fixed tala or rhythmic cycle.

Every composition in the Carnatic style has several parts to it:

(a) Pallavi

  • Are first or second thematic lines of composition.
  • This is often repeated in each stanza.
  • Is considered to be ‘Piece de Resistance’ or the best part of the Carnatic composition called ‘Ragam Thanam Pallavi’ where the artist has great scope for improvisation.

(b) Anu Pallavi

  • Are two lines that follow Pallavi or the first line.
  • Sung in beginning & sometimes towards the end
  • Not necessary to repeat it after every stanza or Charanam.

(c) Varnam

  • Sung at the beginning of a recital.
  • Reveals raga of the recital to the audience.
  • Made up of two parts: Purvanga or first half & Uttaranga or second half.

(d) Ragamalika 

  • Usually concluding part of performance.
  • Extremely important as soloist is allowed to freely indulge in improvisation.
  • All the artists have to return to original theme at the end of the composition.
  • Several other components of Carnatic music- Swara-Kalpana, which is an improvised section performed with drummer in medium and fast paces. 
  • Carnatic music- played with mridangam. 
  • The piece of melodic improvisation in free rhythm with mridangam is called ‘Thanam’.
  • Those pieces which do not have a mridangam are called ‘Rasam’.
    Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1 | History for UPSC CSE
    Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1 | History for UPSC CSE

Early Proponents of Carnatic Music

(i) Annamacharya-(1408-1503)

  • First known composer of Carnatic Music:
  • He composed sankirtanas in praise of Lord Venkateswara, a form of Lord Vishnu.
  • His compositions were mainly in Telugu.
  • He is widely recognised as ‘Grandfather of Telugu Song-writing’.

(ii) Purandara Dasa-(1484-1564)

  • One of the founding proponents of Carnatic music.
  • He was a devotee of Lord Krishna.
  • Widely referred to an “Pitamaha or father/grandfather of Carnatic Music”.
  • He is believed to be an avatar or incarnation of sage Narada.
  • His famous composition includes Dasa Sahithya.

(iii) Kshetrayya-(1600-1680)

  • Telugu poet and a prominent composer of Carnatic music.
  • Composed a number of Padams and Keertanas.
  • His compositions were mainly based on Lord Krishna.
  • He used to travel from one place to another.
  • His Padams are even today sung during Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi performances.

(iv) Bhadrachala Ramadasu-(1620-1680)

  •  A famous proponent of Carnatic Music and his compositions were mainly in praise of Lord Rama and mostly in Telugu language.
  • He was one among the famous Vaggeyakaras (i.e., composing the lyrics as well as setting them to music).
    Other Vaggeyakaras in Telugu include Annamacharya, Tyagaraja, Syama Sastri, etc. (all 03 born in Tiruvarur)
  • Most compositions in Telugu and few in Sanskrit and in praise of Lord Rama.
    A crater on planet Mercury is named Tyagaraja
    Tyagraja created several new ragas.

Folk Music

  • Each state- has its own form of music.
  • Classical music- follow rules as laid in Natyashastra and cultivate a guru-shishya (student-mentor) tradition
  • Folk tradition- music of people and has no hard and fast rules.
  • They are based on diverse themes & are also set on beats so that they can be dance oriented.

Indian Folk MusicIndian Folk Music

There are several type of folk music associated with a particular State:

1. Baul

  • Is not only a type of music, but a Bengali religious sect.
  • Baul Sangeet- particular type of folk song.
  • Lyrics influenced by Hindu Bhakti movements and Suphi, a form of Sufi song exemplified by the songs of Kabir and called ‘Baul Gaan’ or Baul song.
  • Represents a long heritage of preaching mysticism through songs in Bengal like Shahebdhoni or Bolahadi sects.
  • Propounders- Yotin Das, Purno Chandra Das, Lalon Phakir, Naboni Das and Sanatan Das Thakur Baul.

2. Wanawan

  • State of Kashmir.
  • Sung during wedding ceremonies.

3. Pandavani

  • Based on -Mahabharata & Bhima as hero.
  • Includes gayan (singing) & vadan (playing an instrument).Songs are set to rhythm of tambura.
  • Most known artists- Tijanbai from Chhattisgarh- she won Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan.

4. Alha

  • Madhya Pradesh
  • Heroic ballad song with intricate words.
  • Sung in different languages like Braj, Awadhi and Bhojpuri.
  • Also related to Mahabharata and glorify the reincarnations of pandavas.
  • Five Pandavas substituted here as Alha, Udal, Malkhan, Lakhan and Deva.

5. Panihari

  • Rajasthan
  • Related to water.
  • About women fetching water from well in matkas .
  • About scarcity of water and long distance between well and village.
  • Also talk about daily concerns of village women, or chance encounter between lovers or contentious relationship between the mother in law & daughter in law.

6. Ovi

  • Maharashtra and Goa.
  • Songs of women- sung by them during leisure time.
  • Four small lines of poetry & are written for marriages, pregnancy and as lullabies.

7. Pai Song

  • Madhya Pradesh.
  • Sung during festivals, that fall during rainy season.
  • Are the songs of the farmer communities.
  • Plead for a “ood monsoon and a good harvest ’
  • Saira dance is performed with it.

8. Lavani

  • Most famous folk dance from Maharashtra.
  • Most popular genre of music in Maharashtra.
  • Performed with Dholki, a percussion instrument.
  • Has a powerful rhythm .

9. Maand

  • Rajasthan.
  • Developed in royal courts and hence recognised in classical circles.
  • Is neither a full-fledged Raga nor is a freely rendered folk song.
  • Are usually about the bards singing the glory of the Rajput rulers.
  • Is near to Thumri or Ghazal.
  • Song Kesariya Balam is in this style.

10. Dandiya

  • Raas or Dandiya Raas
  • Traditional folk dance form of Gujarat
  • Associated with Holi and Ida of Krishna and Radha at Vrindavan.
  • Dance of Navratri evenings in Western India (Dandiya Raas - Gujarat)
  • Several forms of Raas, but “Dandiya Raas”- most popular.
  • Other forms of Raas
    1. Dang Lila, Rajasthan- one large stick is used
    2. Rasa lila, North India.
  • Raas Lila & Dandiya Raas- are similar.
  • Garba, a form of Raas, called “Raas Garba”.

11. Powada

  • Maharashtra.
  • Ballads sung for heros of the past like Shivaji.
  • Describe the events of their glorious past and their heroic deeds.

12. Khongjom Parva 

  • Folk music- Manipur.
  • Popular ballad genre
  • Musical narration of battle of Khongjom fought between the British army and the Manipuri resistance forces in 1891.

13. Bhavageete

  • Emotional songs
  • Very popular in Karnataka & Maharashtra.
  • Very close to Ghazals
  • Sung on a slower pitch.
  • Composed on themes around nature, love and philosophy.

14. Mando 

  • Goa
  • Blend of Indian &western musical traditions.
  • Instruments used- guitars, violins & ghumot drum.

15. Kolannalu or Kolattam

  • Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
  • Similar to “Dandiya”.
  • Ancient dance form involves movement in a rhythmic fashion.
  • Songs & music played along with dance.
  • Other major folk music traditions from the country are:
    Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1 | History for UPSC CSE
    Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1 | History for UPSC CSE
    Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1 | History for UPSC CSE
    Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1 | History for UPSC CSE

Fusion of Classical and Folk

Usually devotional music take elements from both classical and folk.

Some of the styles are:

1. Sugam Sangeet

  • Genre of devotional music.
  • Takes cue from earlier forms of music like Prabandha Sangeet and Dhruvapada which were also devotional.

Sub-categories in this genre are as follows:

(a) Bhajan
Most popular type of devotional singing present in north India.

  • Originated from Bhakti movement.
  • Popular subjects- stories from life of god & goddess or from Mahabharata and Ramayana.
  • Accompanied by musical instruments- chimta, dholak, dhaphli and manjira.
  • Major expounders (medieval period) - Mirabai, Tulsidas, Surdas, Kabir, etc.
  • Famous bhajan singers- Anup Jalota & Anuradha Paudwal.

(b) Shabad

  • Devotional songs sung in Gurudwaras.
  • Popularised by Guru Nanak & his disciple Mardana
  • Three types of Shabad singing, raga-based Shabad singing; traditional shabds (Adi Granth) & lighter ones.
  • Best-known Shabad singers- Singh Bandhus-Tejpal Singh, Surinder Singh & Bhai Santa Singh

(c) Qawwali

  • Sung in praise Allah or Prophet Muhammad or any major Sufi or Islamic saint.
  • Composed in single raga & is written in Urdu, Punjabi or Hindi.
  • Words of Brajbhasa & Awadhi are also used.
  • Are performed in Sufi shrines.
  • Sung solo or in groups of two leads singers & a team of eight.
  • Tabla, dholak and harmonium are used.
  • Amir Khusrau-credited with origin of Qawwali but is severely disputed.
  • Major Qawwals-Sabri Brothers, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Aziz Warisi etc.
    Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1 | History for UPSC CSE

2. Rabindra Sangeet

  • Most famous form of composing music in Bengal.Recreates the music of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
  • Mixture of classical elements & Bengali folk strains.
  • More than 2000 Rabindra Sangeet exists.
  • Themes include- worship of one true god, devotion to nature and its beauty, love and a celebration of life.
  • Its most prominent emotion was strain of patriotism.

3. Gana Sangeet  

  • Fusion music sung in chorus.
  • Is on patriotic feelings & includes songs of protest against malpractices in the society.
  • Most popular example of it: Vande Mataram,

4. Haveli Sangeet  

  • Developed in Rajasthan & Gujarat but also seen in many parts of the country.
  • Was sung in temple premises but now are performed outside of temples.
  • Practiced by a community called Pushtimarg Sampradaya or community that believes in Pushtimarg as the way to salvation.

Modern Music

1. Rock

  • Rock music in Indian- called Indian Rock- has elements of Indian music with mainstream rock music.
  • One of the first Indian rock singers- Usha Uthup.
  • Unique features of Indian rock are- Indian musicians began fusing rock with traditional Indian music from the mid-1960s onwards.
  • Western music and cultural interaction have impacted Indian Rock.
  • Influence of Indian classical music on 1960s rock- started with George Harrison’s Ravi Shankar inspired raga rock song “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” in 1965 & The Beatles’ very public sojourn with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at his ashram in Rishikesh in 1968, following the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967.

2. Jazz

  • Its origin in India- 1920s in Bombay, when African-American jazz musicians performed in posh hotels.
  • The Goan musicians took cue from them.
  • 1930 -1950 -‘Golden age of Jazz music in India’.
  • Black musicians who came to India to avoid racial discrimination in USA- Leon Abbey, Crickett Smith, Creighton Thompson, Ken Mac, Roy Butler, Teddy Weatherford.
  • Became predominant- in Bombay & centres like Taj Mahal hotel ballroom.
  • Similarities between Jazz & Indian classical music- both involve improvisation.
  • In 1940s- Indo jazz which consisted of jazz, classical & Indian influences, emerged.
  • Pioneers of fusion of jazz & Indian music- Ravi Shankar, John Coltrane, etc.
  • Indian classical music also impacted free jazz (a subgenre of jazz)

3. Pop Music

  • Indian elements with Pop music- Indi-pop or Indipop or Hindipop.
  • British-Indian fusion band Monsoon- used term ‘Indipop’ for first time in their album in 1981.
  • Indian pop music- popularised in early 1990s- by Alisha Chinai, in collaboration with Biddu & MTV India.
  • Indipop took an interesting turn with “remixing” of old Indian movie songs & adding new beats to them- this attempt of reinventing IndiPop faced severe criticism & eventually resulted in end of IndiPop phase of music in India.
  • Current pop musicians- Mohit Chauhan, Mika Singh, Raghav Sachar, Papon, etc.

Musical Instruments

Four major traditional categories of musical instruments depending upon type of instruments that are included in it. They are:

1. Awanad/Avanadd ha Vadya

  • Membranophone instruments- outer membrane is beaten to take out particular musical sounds.
  • Also called percussion instruments
  • Have one or two faces covered with hide or skin.
  • Most ancient of these- Bhumi Dundubhi or the earth drum.
  • It includes- Tabla, Drum, Dhol, Congo, Mridangam, etc.
  • Tabla accompanies Hindustani classical vocals, Mridangam- accompanies Carnatic music performances.

2. Sushira Vadya

  • Are aerophones- includes wind instruments.
  • Most common- Bansuri (flute), Shehnai, Pungi, Ninkirns, etc.
  • Most common yet difficult to play- Shehnai, a double reeded wind instrument with a widening tube towards the end. It is one of the oldest wind instruments in India.
  • Ustad Bismillah Khan-‘Shehnai King’
  • Most common instrument- flute (used since Vedic period) & was initially called Nadi or Tunava.
  • Lord Krishna playing a Flute- an icon of Flindu imagination.
  • Pandit Harinrasad Chaurasia- most famous flutist of India.

3. Ghana Vadya

  • Solid instruments- do not require any tuning.
  • Also called Idiophone instruments.
  • Popular examples- Manjira, Jaltarang, Kanchtarang, Jhanj, Khartal, etc.
  • Manjira- small brass cymbal used in temples.
  • Archaeological excavations- dated Manjira to be as old as Harappan civilisation.
  • These instruments keep rhythm & time with the ong that is being sung.

4. Tata vadya

  • Are Chordophones or string instruments.

Three major types:

(a) Bowed

Sound is drawn from drawing a bow across the strings.

Sarangi, Esraj & Violin.

(b) Plectral

Strings are plucked by fingers or by a plectrum of wire or horn.

Sitar, Veena & Tamboora.

(c) Instruments struck by small hammer or a pair of sticks.

Gotuvadyam & Swaramandal.

  • Bhangash family- pioneers of Sarod (20th century).
  • Gharanas playing Sitar- Jaipur, Varanasi, Etawah (Imaad Khani) Gharanas.
  • Veena- one of the most ancient and revered instrument that belongs to Goddess. 
  • Saraswati, also belongs to this category.

5. Santoor

It is a 100 strings instrument and is a traditional instrument of Jammu and Kashmir from ancient times. Sufiana kalam music is accompanied by Santoor.

Question for Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1
Try yourself:Which of the following folk music is not correctly matched?
View Solution

Folk Musical Instruments

1. Chordophones

(i) Tumbi: played during Bhangra in Punjab.

(ii) Ektara or Tun Tuna: one-stringed instrument played by wandering monks.

(iii) Dotara: two-stringed instrument used by Bauls

(iv) Chikara: bowed instrument used in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

(v) Dilruba or Esraj: accompanying instrument used in Punjab and during Rabindra sangeet in eastern India.

(vi) Onavillu: Kerala. Made of bamboo.

(vii) Sarinda: Important tribal instrument and is used by Santhals in Eastern India, in Rajasthan & Assam. It is like Sarangi.

2. Aerophones
(i) Pungi or Been: snake charmers use it. Made of dried bottle gourd & two bamboo sticks.
(ii) Algoza: Double flute and used in North West India, especially Punjab.
(iii) Tangmuri: Khasi hill people of Meghalaya.
(iv) Titti: like bagpiper, made of goat skin. It is made in south India especially Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.
(v) Mashak: instrument of Garhwal region in Uttarakhand. Used in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
(vi) Gogona: made of bamboo & used during Bihu in Assam.

3. Membranophones
(i) Ghumot: like a drum & played during Ganesh festival,Goa.
(ii) Idakka: like Damru and is from Kerala.
(iii) Udukai: hour-glass shaped instrument like damru from Tamil Nadu.
(iv) Sambal: like drum & played with sticks in Konkan region, Maharashtra.
(v) Tamak: Important instrument of Santhal tribe & is two headed drum. It is beaten with drum sticks.
(vi) Diggi: folk drum from Ghariya village of Uttar Pradesh.

4. Idiophones
(i) Chimpta: evolved from fire tongs, used in Punjab.
(ii) Gharha: are earthern pots that are used in folk music, Punjab
(iii) Andelu: used in Burra-Katha & is a pair of hollow metal rings.

Question for Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1
Try yourself:Which of the following is not a Sushir vadya?
View Solution

Modern Development in Music

Some of the important developments are:

(i) Gandharva Mahavidyalaya

  • Set up by V.D. Palushkar, 1901
  • Purpose- teaching & transmitting knowledge of Indian classical music and dance to the coming generations.
  • Was initially opened in Lahore but shifted to Mumbai in 1915.
  • Focuses on Flindustani & Carnatic classical forms of music.
  • Have a devotional bend of mind, so opened Prayag Samiti in Allahabad.

(ii) Prayag Sangeet Samiti

  • It was established in 1926 at Allahabad (now Prayagraj) to impart education in Hindustani Classical music

Question for Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1
Try yourself:Consider the following statements:
1. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi
2. Gangu Bhai Hangal
3. Vishnu Palushkar
Who of the above belong to Kirana Gharana of Dhrupad style of music?
View Solution

(iii) Sangeet Natak Academy

  • First national academy set up for the Arts by Government of India in 1952.
  • Major focus- creates a set-up for music, drama and dances in India.
  • Was supposed to be the primary body for the showcasing of performing arts in the county.
  • Also promoted the enormous intangible heritage of India.
  • Central agency to monitor preservation of our cultural heritage but they need to collaborate with State & Union Territory governments to preserve and promote their culture on a national platform.
  • Also looks after several institutions, which focus primarily on dance, music or drama.
  • Like, they administer National School of Drama - set up in 1959 for focused work on dramatics in India.

(iv) Marris College of Music

  • Premier institute for studying classical music in India.
  • Founded by Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande in 1926.
  • He established it in his place of origin, Lucknow
  • Later renamed as Bhatkhande Music Institute.

(v) Spic Macay

  • Established by Kiran Seth in 1977.
  • Full form- ‘ ‘Society for Promotion of Indian classical music and culture amongst the youth.”
  • Voluntary youth movement to showcase culture of India to the masses, especially the younger generations who are losing touch with Indian classical roots.
  • Established to promote Indian classical music, dance and other aspects of Indian culture.
  • Targets- lay people and youth by holding many free entry events.
  • Grown into a behemoth organisation that has more than 200 chapters or branches all across the globe.

Question for Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1
Try yourself:Consider the following statements:
1. A raga must have at least five notes or swaras in it.
2. Raga has only Aaroha or ascending notes.
Which of the above is/are correct?
View Solution

  • Is annual Indian classical music festival held at National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai.
  • Based on the concept of association of time with the ragas.

To practice questions of the topic "Indian Music", you just read, attempt the test given below:

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FAQs on Nitin Singhania Summary: Indian Music- 1 - History for UPSC CSE

1. What is the classification of Indian music?
Ans. Indian music is classified into two major categories, namely Carnatic music and Hindustani music. Carnatic music is popular in the southern part of India, while Hindustani music is popular in the northern part of India.
2. What is the difference between Carnatic music and Hindustani music?
Ans. Carnatic music is based on the concept of melody and is primarily performed using vocal music. On the other hand, Hindustani music is based on the concept of both melody and rhythm and is performed using both vocal and instrumental music.
3. What are some popular musical instruments used in Indian music?
Ans. Some popular musical instruments used in Indian music are sitar, tabla, sarod, veena, flute, shehnai, harmonium, and tanpura. These instruments are used to create various melodies and rhythms in Indian music.
4. What is the fusion of classical and folk music in Indian music?
Ans. The fusion of classical and folk music in Indian music is known as fusion music. This type of music combines the classical and folk elements of Indian music to create a unique sound. This type of music is popular in the modern era among the younger generation.
5. What is the modern development in Indian music?
Ans. The modern development in Indian music includes the introduction of new musical instruments, new styles of music, and the use of technology in music production. With the help of modern technology, musicians can now produce high-quality music using various digital tools and software. This has led to the emergence of new genres of music in India.
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