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Performing Arts : Music

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Performing Arts : Music

Music has always been an integral part of the cultures that existed in India. The range of musical phenomenon in India extends from tribal to folklore and from classical to modern style. The situations in which music is played and listened to, and the attitude toward music players and composers all vary between regions and periods. Indian music has a very long tradition and is an accumulated heritage of years. Indian music has developed due to interaction between different peoples of varied races and cultures.

The two main ingredients of the present system of Indian music are: Raag and Taal.  Raag is the melodic form and is also known as mode or scale while Taal is the rhythm and is also known as beats. There are seven notes in Indian Music- Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa, known as ‘Sargam’.

It is believed that the sage Narada introduced the art of music to the Earth. Indian classical music is originated from the Vedas some 2000 years back. Samaveda describes music widely. The sound of 'Om' gave rise to the various notes.

Tansen and Akbar's CourtPanini gave the first reference to music in 500 BC. In the beginning, music was devotional in content and was used for ritualistic purposes only and was restricted to temples. During the late Vedic period (3000-1200 BC), Samgana form of music was popular, that was used while chanting holy verses. Various other forms of music also developed over the period, like Jatigan were evolved to narrate the epics. Between 2nd to 7th AD Prabandh Sangeet evolved and became very popular. This form led to Dhruvapad, which used Hindi as the medium.

The Gupta Period (320-480 AD) was the golden era in the history of Indian music. The Guptas ruled in most of the northern India. The Gupta period was the period of “Greater India” and a wide range of cultural activities occurred during period influenced the neighboring countries too. The Guptas not only enriched the Indian culture but also had a global impact. Many music treatises like Natya Shastra and Brihaddeshi were written during this period.

Mughals were very much interested in arts, culture and music. Many new ragas were introduced in the Mughal Period (1526 -1858). Ragas like Mian ki Todi, Mian ki Malhar, Raag Darbari by Tansen and music forms like Thumri and Tarana  were introduced at this time. Akbar liked music so much that he had 36 musicians in his court. Every Mughal ruler patronized music. Aurangzeb was a good Veena player too.

The Indian Music can be furthered into Hindustani music prevailing in North India and Carnatic music in South India. Both the Hindustani and Carnatic classical music traditions roots from Bharata's Natyashastra.

Hindustani Music

The North Indian system of music is known as Hindustani music. It covers an area extending from Bangladesh, Northern and Central India into Pakistan and upto Afghanistan. Hindustani music is the mixture of traditional Hindu musical concepts and Persian music. The emergence of Islamic rule in northern India made Hindu music to absorb musical influences from the Islamic world.

Zakir HussainPersian music had a vast influence on the music of India, which brought a radical change in the Northern Indian music style. The devotional dhruvapad transformed into the dhrupad form of singing in the 15th century AD, as a result of the support given to the classical music by the rulers. The khayal developed as a new form of singing in the 18th century AD. The Indian classical music developed its own characteristics. Indian music developed from the association of folk music and other musical expressions with devotional music.

A number of musical instruments were associated with Hindustani music like sitar, tabla, sarod, sarangi. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Zakir Hussain are the famous living performers of Hindustani music.

Carnatic Music

Carnatic music or Karnatak music is the classical music of South India and was founded around 2000 BC. The word “Carnatic music” cames from the word Karnatakam (karna = "ear" atati = "he pleases" = "that which pleases the ear"). Carnatic music is Kriti based and Saahitya (lyric) oriented and it retained the traditional octave.

Subbalkshmi PanditMost of the songs are devotional and were offered to the Hindu deities in Carnatic music. There are a lot of songs that emphasize the feeling of love and other social issues.

Like all Indian music, the two main components of Carnatic music are raga, a melodic pattern and taal, a rhythmic pattern. Vocal music forms the basis of South Indian music and South Indian performances are based upon the pallavi, anupallavi and charanam.  Both systems absorbed folk tunes and regional tilts and elevated many of them to the status of ragas. These systems also mutually influenced each other.
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