The music of India is said to be one of the oldest unbroken musical traditions in the world. It is said that the origins of this system go back to the Vedas (ancient scripts of the Hindus). Many different legends have grown up concerning the origins and development of Indian classical music. Such legends go a long way in showing the importance that music has in defining Indian culture.
However the advent of modern historical and cultural research has also given us a good perspective on the field. This has shown that Indian music has developed within a very complex interaction between different peoples of different races and cultures. It appears that the ethnic diversity of present day India has been there from the earliest of times.
The basis for Indian music is “sangeet”. Sangeet is a combination of three artforms: vocal music, instrumental music and dance. Although these three artforms were originally derived from the single field of stagecraft. Today these three forms have differentiated into complex and highly refined individual artforms.
The present system of Indian music is based upon two important pillars: rag and tal. Rag is the melodic form while tal is the rhythmic.
Rag may be roughly equated with the Western term mode or scale. There is a system of seven notes which are arranged in a means not unlike Western scales. However when we look closely we see that it is quite different what we are familiar with.
The tal (rhythmic forms) are also very complex. Many common rhythmic patterns exist. They revolve around repeating patterns of beats.
The interpretation of the rag and the tal is not the same all over India. Today there are two major traditions of classical music. There is the north Indian and the south Indian tradition. The North Indian tradition is known as Hindustani sangeet and the south Indian is called Carnatic sangeet. Both systems are fundamentally similar but differ in nomenclature and performance practice.
Many musical instruments are peculiar to India. The most famous are the sitar and tabla. However there are many more that the average person may not be familiar with.
All of this makes up the complex and exciting field of Indian classical music. Its understanding easily consumes an entire lifetime.
Dholak is a very popular folk drum of northern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh as well. It is barrel shaped, at times a cylindrical drum, with skins on both sides.
Dumroo is probably the oldest and traditional form of percussion instrument in India. Dumroo is the only remaining form of hour-glass drums which are seen in ancient Indian statues.
GHATAM replicates or conveys the meaning of the pot in Sanskrit. It is an ancient percussion instrument and ancient like other musical instruments mridangam, veena, etc.
Ghungroos are very famous Musical Instrument in India. Ghungroos are usually the small brass bells. It is a musical accessory used by performers of all classical dances.
The Kanjeera is a very old and traditional instrument which is very popular in South Indian classical performances. Kanjeera is secondary percussion which is played as an accompaniment with the mridangam.
Kartal literally means rhythm of the hand which is made of wooden blocks with holes for the fingers and circular copper plates, pairs of Kartals are played with both hands.
IKhol is usually used traditionally for accompanying Bhajans and Kirtans. Its high skin is relatively small with a diameter of about 9 – 10 cm, which gives it a particularly high, piercing sound.
Manjeera is basically a set of small cymbals and is a ubiquitous component of dance, music and bhajans. It is a very ancient instrument seen on ancient temple walls. Manjeera is the most inexpensive and easy to play Instrument,
The Indian Musical Instrument Mridangam is one of the most popular classical instruments of South India. Mridangam accompanies vocal, instrumental and dance performances.
The Pakhawaj in India is also called Mardal, Pakhawaj, Pakuaj, Pakhvaj, Pakavaj or Mardala, as it is a barrel-shaped, two-headed drum.
Tabla is the most popular pair of drums in the Indian Sub- continent. Tabla is a pair of drums which consists of a small right hand drum called Dayan and a larger metal one called bayan.
Bansuri is basically a folk instrument, invariably linked to the lives and playfulnesses of Krishna. However, it was during the Bhakti movement that Bansuri raised to prominence.
Harmonium usually belongs to the family of free-reed aerophones. The instrument is a small, tabletop size organ which has bellows at the back that is pumped by one hand while the other hand plays the keyboard.
Shehnai the wind instrument is believed to have been introduced in India by the Muslims. Shehnai is the predominant double-reed wind instrument used in North Indian music.
Sarangi has a hollow body and made of teak wood adorned with ivory inlays. It consisits of forty strings of which thirty seven are sympathetic.
Sarod is a popular Indian classical musical instrument which is similar to the Western lute in structure. Among the followers and connoisseurs of Hindustani classical music Sarod is one of the most important musical instruments.
Sitar is one of the most popular Indian classical instruments and it comes under the category of a chordophone in the lute family. Sitar has neck crafted from toon or teakwood and a resonator carved from a large seasoned gourd.
Tanpura in India is a drone instrument that accompanies Dhrupad singing and is the most fundamental of all instruments of Indian Classical Music.
Veena the traditional instrument of India is also known as Saraswati Veena which is a musical instrument of South India. Veena is a classical instrument basically plucked stringed instrument that is used to accompany Carnatic music.