Music of India
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The music of India includes multiple varieties of Indian classical music, folk music, filmi and Indian pop. India's classical music tradition, including Hindustani music and Carnatic, has a history spanning millennia and developed over several eras. Music in India began as an integral part of socio-religious life.
|Music of India|
A Lady Playing the Tanpura, ca. 1735 (Rajasthan)
|Media and performance|
|Nationalistic and patriotic songs|
|National anthem||Jana Gana Mana|
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 Western music.
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The Hindustani music tradition diverged from Carnatic music around the 13th-14th centuries CE. The practice Vedic times where the hymns in Sama Veda, an ancient religious text, were sung as Samagana and not chanted. 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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The present of 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). There are about 7.2 million ragas (or scales) in Carnatic Music, with around 300 still 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 musicEdit
Rabindra Sangeet (Music of Bengal)Edit
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.
Rabindranath Tagore was a towering figure in Indian music. Writing in Bengali, he created a library of over 2,000 songs now known by Bengalis as rabindra sangeet whose form is primarily influenced by Hindustani classical, sub-classicals, Carnatic, western, bauls, bhatiyali and different folk songs of India. Many singers in West Bengal and Bangladesh base their entire careers on the singing of Tagore musical masterpieces. The national anthem of India and national anthem of Bangladesh are Rabindra Sangeets.
Bihu of AssamEdit
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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 buffalos. Second day is for the man. Bihu dances and songs accompanied by traditional drums and wind instruments are essential part of this festival. Bihu songs are energetic and with beats to welcome the festive spring. Assamese drums (dhol), Pepa(horm usually made from buffalo horn), gogona are major instruments used.
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 in (mainly) the state of Gujarat. There is also another type of dance and music associated with Dandiya/Raas called Garba.
Ganasangeet message. The songs are usually about Freedom, community strength, patriotism. Due to the British occupation in India, a lot of protest songs about anti-imperialism/pro-socialism have been written in India. Examples: Apni Azadi Ko Hum Hargis Mita Sakte Nahin, Ajadee hoyni tor, Kadam kadam badhaye jaa, Vande Mataram, etc.
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 folks 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, Chandra Singh Rahi etc.
Lavani comes from the word Lavanya which means love. 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 artistes, but male artistes 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. Dance performed by attractive women wearing nine-yard saris. They are sung in a quick tempo. The verve, the enthusiasm, the rhythm and above all the very beat of India finds an expressive declaration amidst the folk music of India, which has somewhat, redefined the term "bliss". 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 include the Sarangi, Rawanhattha, 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 favourite of Holi (the festival of colours) revellers. Flutes and bagpipers come in local flavours such as Shehnai, Poongi, Algoza, Tarpi, Been and Bankia.
Rajasthani music is derived from the 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 utilizing 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, Kishore, S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, T.M. Soundararajan, Hemant Kumar, Manna Dey, P. Susheela, Asha Bhonsle, her sister Lata Mangeshkar, 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 exist and have gained mass appeal with the advent of cable music television.
Interaction with non-Indian musicEdit
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 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 musicEdit
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 famous 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 SQS Supastars.
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 & metal musicEdit
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, popularized 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 short wave 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 Easter 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.
Indian hip hopEdit
Jazz and bluesEdit
Western classical musicEdit
The spread and following of Western classical music in India is almost entirely non-existent. It is mainly patronized 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. Also, the difficulty in importing Western musical instruments and their rarity has 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 popularize 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 musicEdit
Patriotic feelings have been instigated within Indians through music, since the era of 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, both of them belonged to West Bengal. Post-independence songs such as Mile Sur Mera Tumhara, Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo, Maa Tujhe Salaam (Thaai Manne Vanakkam) in Tamil 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): Gujurat - 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 web site registered. Accessed May 17, 2014.
- Saavnpk - Indian Free Music Audio Song Collection. Accessed April 17, 2017.
- (in English) (in French) Hindustani Rag Sangeet Online - A rare collection of more than 800 audio and video archives from 1902