Traditionally the music composed by ethnic Kashmiris has a wide range of musical influences in composition. Due to Kashmir's close proximity to Central Asia, Eastern Asia and Southern Asia, a unique blend of music has evolved encompassing the music of the 3 regions. But, overall, Kashmiri music is closer to Central Asian music, using traditional Central Asian instruments and musical scales
. Kashmiri music uses a wide variety of musical scales, everything from musical scales which are very similar to the byzantine scale
, and harmonic minor scale
, to the more melodic sounding Major scale
, and Minor scale
. Also the use of vocals in traditional Kashmiri music varies. In some forms of Kashmiri music vocals are given the central role, forming the lead of the songs, but in many other varieties, it is the instruments that act as the central focus of the music. In a lot of traditional Kashmiri music the vocals are harmonized, with a wide ranging of harmonies from the use Consecutive fifths
to one person singing the same melody either an octave
higher or lower.
Rouf is a traditional dance form performed by women on certain important occasions.
Sufiana Kalam is also popular in Kashmir, this form of music is accompanied by a 70-stringed instrument called the santoor, along with the Kashmiri saz. Sufiana Kalam has been popular in Kashmir since arriving from Iran in the 15th century, and has been the music of choice for Kashmiri Sufi mystics.
The dance based on the sofiyiana kalam is the hafiz nagma.
Music by Hindus in Kashmir
Music in Kashmir performed by Hindus is mainly influenced by Indian classical music, using instruments such as the Sitar
who wrote the famous Sangeet Ratnakara
was a Kashmiri
. Music and musical instruments find mentioned in the earliest texts like the Nilmatapurana
. The very fact that a Kashmiri
(the great philosopher) who has written a commentary called Abhinavabharati
on Bharata's Natyashatra shows how much of importance was given to music in the ancient times. The most popular folk instrument is Santoor(Shat-tantri-veena), a hundred string percussion instrument which is played by Goddess Sharada
(the Goddess of learning and art in ancient Kashmir).
Henzae is a music form sung by Kashmiri Pandits
on religious and cultural festivals.
One of the main features of a Ladakh marriage is the recitation of lengthy narratives by singers in unusual costumes.
Popular dances in Ladakh include the Khatok Chenmo (only when headed by an aristocratic family member), Kompa Tsum-tsak (meaning three successive steps), Jabro (dance steps from Western Ladakh), Chaams (Sacred dance by Lamas), Chabs-Skyan Tses (Dance carrying a Pot), Raldi Tses (Sqordsmanship Dance) and alley yaato (Zanskari Dance and Song Sequence) etc.
The state of Kashmir
over the ages has also produced an extensive deal of nationalistic music
. Before the arrival of Islam, Kashmir was a predominantly Hindu state, and most of the people of the region belonged to the Brahmin
caste. This helped nurture nationalisitc music in Kashmir. These songs told mythological tales about Brahmin Kashmiri
This tradition creating of Kashmiri nationalsitic music is mostly absent these days in the Kashmir region. After the arrival of Islam, Kashmiris systematically stopped creating nationalisitic music instead opting for traditional Islam
oriented) influenced music.
Although this tradition has mostly been lost, some musicians are trying to revive this old form of Kashmiri music. Zanskar
, plays a form of Kashmiri folk-based music mixed with metal with a nationalisitic message. Their music focuses on tales about old Brahmin
, and Sufi