The origins of Indian classical music
can be found from the oldest of scriptures
, part of the Hindu
tradition, the Vedas
Samaveda, one of the four Vedas, describes music at length. Indian classical music has its origins as a meditation tool for attaining self realization. All different forms of these melodies (Ragas) are believed to affect various "chakras" (energy centers, or "moods") in the path of the Kundalini. However, there is little mention of these esoteric beliefs in Bharat's Natyashastra, the first treatise laying down the fundamental principles of drama, dance and music. The Samaveda, one of the four Vedas, created out of Riga-Veda so that its hymns could be sung as Samagana, established its first pop.
Indian classical music has one of the most complex and complete musical systems ever developed. Like Western classical music, it divides the octave into 12 semitones of which the 7 basic notes are Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa, in order, replacing Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do. However, it uses the just intonation tuning (unlike Western classical music which uses the equal temperament tuning system).
Indian classical music is monophonic in nature and based around a single melody line which is played over a fixed drone. The performance is based melodically on particular ragas and rhythmically on talas.
Scholars of Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth century were enamored by Indian music. With no facility to record the sound they explored for some existing system that might express sounds in the composition. There were pointers to an ancient notation system which scholars had also translated into Persian; still, complexity of Indian classical music could not be expressed in writing. Though some western scholars did record compositions in Staff notation system, Indian musicians used Pt. Bhatkhande system. Though more accurate, this relies on Devanagari script rather than symbols and hence is cumbersome at times. A new notation system has been proposed which uses symbols and offers instantaneous comprehension like Staff notation system. It is with standardization of a notation system that hitherto unknown compositions would see the light of day.
typically used in Hindustani music include sitar
, and tabla
. Instruments typically used in Carnatic music include flute
The fundamental authoritative work on the subject of Indian instruments, Bharatiya Sangeet Vadya was based on years of research carried out by Dr. Lalmani Misra.
The two main streams of Indian classical music are:
Players of the tabla
, a type of drum
, usually keep the rhythm in Hindustani Music. Another common instrument is the stringed tambura
(also known as tanpura), which is played at a steady tone (a drone) throughout the performance of the raga
. This task traditionally falls to a student of the soloist, a task which might seem monotonous but is, in fact, an honour and a rare opportunity for the student who gets it. The prime themes of Hindustani music are romantic love
, and devotionals
. Yet, Indian classical music is independent of such themes. To sing a Raga any poetic phrase may be chosen and the raga
would not suffer.
In Hindustani Music, the performance usually begins with a slow elaboration of the raga, known as alap. This can range from very long (30-40 minutes) to very short (2-3 minutes) depending on the style and preference of the musician. Once the raga is established, the ornamentation around the mode begins to become rhythmical, gradually speeding up. This section is called the drut or jor. Finally, the percussionist joins in and the tala is introduced. There is a significant amount of Persian influence in Hindustani music.
Carnatic music tends to be significantly more structured than Hindustani music; examples of this are the logical classification of ragas into melakarthas, and the use of fixed compositions similar to Western classical music. Carnatic raga elaborations are generally much faster in tempo and shorter than their equivalents in Hindustani music. The opening piece is called a varnam
, and is a warm-up for the musicians. A devotion and a request for a blessing follows, then a series of interchanges between ragams
(unmetered melody) and thaalams
(the ornamentation, equivalent to the jor
). This is intermixed with hymns
. This is followed by the pallavi
or theme from the raga. Carnatic pieces can also be fixed; these are famous compositions that are popular among those who appreciate Carnatic (especially vocal) music.
Carnatic music is similar to Hindustani music in that it is improvised (see musical improvisation), but it is much more influenced by theory and has stricter rules. Primary themes include Devi worship, Rama worship, descriptions of temples and patriotic songs. Sri Purandara Dasa(1480 - 1564) is known as the father of Carnatic music. Tyagaraja (1759 - 1847), Muthuswami Dikshitar (1776 - 1827) and Syama Sastri (1762 - 1827) are known as the Trinity of Carnatic music.
Ancient texts give fundamental rules of Indian music but modern writings of Pt. Omkarnath Thakur, Prof. Lalit Kishore Singh, Dr. Lalmani Misra, Acharya Brahaspati, Thakur Jaidev Singh, Prof. R.C. Mehta, Dr. Premlata Sharma, Dr. Subhadra Choudhary, Dr. Indrani Chakravarty, Dr. Ashok Ranade, Aban E. Mistry etc. have given a scientific basis to Indian music system. Besides these, scholars from other streams have also written about music. There are a number of biographies of Indian musicians although some critics feel that Indian litterateurs have not paid due attention to Indian classical music.
1. Umesh Joshi-- Bharatiya Sangeet ka Itihas
2. Komal Gandhar -- Ustad Vilayat Khan.
3. Indian Classical Music