Learning Indian Classical Music: The Basics
- Introduction to Indian Classical Music
- The Different Genres of Indian Classical Music
- The Different Forms of Indian Classical Music
- The Different Instruments Used in Indian Classical Music
- Learning Indian Classical Music
Want to learn how to play Indian classical music? This blog post will introduce you to the basics, including the different types of music and instruments used.
Introduction to Indian Classical Music
Indian classical music is one of the oldest and most complex musical traditions in the world. It is rich in history and has influenced other musical traditions, such as Hindustani and Carnatic music. Indian classical music is based on the concept of raga, which is a melodic framework for improvisation.
What is Indian Classical Music?
Indian classical music is one of the oldest and most complex musical traditions in the world. It is a tradition that is over 3000 years old, and it has been continuously evolving since its inception. Indian classical music is based on two principle elements: improvisation and rhetoric. It is improvised in the sense that the musician does not know exactly what he or she will play before they begin playing; they must rely on their training and inspiration to guide them in the moment. And it is rhetoric in the sense that it employs specific techniques to create specific effects on the listener.
The Indian classical music tradition can be divided into two main streams: Hindustani music, which developed in the northern parts of India, and Carnatic music, which developed in the southern parts of India. Both Hindustani and Carnatic music share a common repertoire of ragas (melodic scales), but they differ in their approach to improvisation and rhetoric.
If you’re interested in learning more about Indian classical music, there are many resources available online and offline. The best way to learn is by listening to as much music as possible, and by finding a teacher who can help you understand the basics.
History of Indian Classical Music
Indian classical music is one of the oldest musical traditions in the world. Its history can be traced back to over 3000 years ago, making it one of the longest continuous musical traditions. Indian classical music is also one of the most diverse and complex, with a rich variety of styles and traditions.
The basis of Indian classical music is the raga, which is a melodic framework for improvisation. A raga can be thought of as a scale, with certain specific melodic patterns that must be followed. There are hundreds of different ragas, each with its own unique character.
In addition to the raga, another important element of Indian classical music is the tala, which is a rhythmic cycle. The tala provides the framework for the rhythm of a piece of music, and helps to give it its distinctive flavor. There are many different talas, each with its own characteristic feel.
Indian classical music is usually performed by a small ensemble known as a mridangam. The mridangam consists of four main instruments: the sitar (a pluckedstring instrument), the tabla (a pair of hand drums), the harmonium (a wind instrument) and thetanpura (a four-stringed instrument). The sitar and tabla usually take turns playing the melody and accompaniment, while the other instruments provide drone notes or play rhythmic patterns.
Although it may seem complex at first, Indian classical music is actually very beautiful and rewarding to listen to. If you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating musical tradition, there are many resources available online and in libraries.
The Different Elements of Indian Classical Music
Indian classical music is a very complex and nuanced art form, with many different elements that combine to create the whole. To truly understand and appreciate it, it is necessary to have at least a basic knowledge of these different elements.
One of the most important elements is the raga, which can be described as a melodic framework for a composition or improvisation. A raga typically consists of a scale, as well as certain melodic and rhythmic devices that are characteristic of that particular raga. There are literally thousands of different ragas in Indian classical music, each with its own unique flavor.
The other major element is the tala, which is the rhythmic framework for a composition or improvisation. A tala typically consists of a certain number of beats, divided into smaller units called matras. Again, there are literally thousands of different talas in Indian classical music, each with its own unique flavor.
In addition to these two major elements, there are also many other smaller elements that contribute to the overall sound and feel of a piece of Indian classical music. These include things like ornamentation, dynamics, and tempo.
The Different Genres of Indian Classical Music
Indian classical music is a genre of South Asian music. It has two major traditions: the North Indian classical music tradition and the South Indian classical music tradition. Indian classical music is based on the Vedas, which are a collection of ancient Hindu texts. The Vedas are used to create a system of tones and rules that govern Indian classical music.
Hindustani music is the North Indian style of classical music. It is also sometimes called Hindusto-Islamic or North Indian classical music. The music is based on the mode, or raga, which uses a melodic scale and specific rules for melody, rhythm, and improvisation. The main instrument is the sitar, but other instruments include the tabla (drums), shehnai (a type of oboe), and harmonium.
Hindustani music developed in the 12th and 13th centuries under the influence of Persian and Arabic music. It reached its height of popularity in the 16th and 17th centuries under the Mughal Empire. After the decline of the Mughal Empire, Hindustani music continued to be popular among the educated classes in North India. In the 20th century, Hindustani music was introduced to Europe and America by artists such as Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan.
Today, Hindustani music is enjoyed all over the world by fans of all ages. If you’re interested in learning more about this beautiful genre of music, there are many resources available online and in libraries
Carnatic music, otherwise known as Karnāṭaka saṃgīta or Karnāṭaka saṅgītam, is a system of music commonly associated with the southern part of the Indian subcontinent, with its area including parts of southern India, particularly Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh as well as Sri Lanka.
The Different Forms of Indian Classical Music
Indian classical music can be divided into two main categories: North Indian classical music and South Indian classical music. North Indian classical music is also known as Hindustani classical music, while South Indian classical music is also known as Carnatic classical music. Both styles of music have their own unique features.
Khyal is the most common form of Indian classical music, and is found across the north, west, and east of the subcontinent. It is characterized by its vocal origins, improvised nature, and use of both Hindustani and Carnatic ragas.
Khyal began to develop in the late 16th century, although its roots can be traced back to dhrupad singing. It became the dominant form of Hindustani music in the 18th century, due largely to the influence of singers such as Miyan Tansen. Today, it is one of the most popular genres of Indian classical music, and is often performed at concerts and festivals.
Dhrupad is a form of North Indian classical music that was developed in the royal courts of North India. It is one of the oldest and most influential forms of Indian music, having been performed for over 400 years. Dhrupad is characterized by its emphasis on rhythm and melody, as well as its use of vowel sounds (rather than consonants) to create a drone effect. The music is often slow and meditative, and it is traditionally performed by a singer accompanied by two or more percussionists.
Dhrupad originated in the northern region of India known as Hindustan. The word “dhrupad” comes from the Sanskrit words dhruva (fixed) and pad (feet), which together mean “having fixed feet.” This refers to the fact that dhrupad songs are built around specific melodic patterns that are repeated throughout the song. These melodic patterns, known as ragas, provide the foundation for the improvisation that is so essential to dhrupad performance.
Dhrupad rose to prominence during the Mughal period (1526-1707), when it became the favored form of music at the Mughal court.During this time, dhrupad reached its peak of artistic development, culminating in the work of the great composer Tansen (1543-1605). Tansen was responsible for codifying many of the melodic patterns (ragas) that are still used in dhrupad today. After Tansen’s death, dhrupad continued to be patronized by various rulers throughout northern India, but it began to decline in popularity during the British colonial period.
In recent years, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in dhrupad, both in India and abroad. This has been due in part to the efforts of a handful of talented performers who have kept this ancient tradition alive. Among these performers is Ustad Ritwik Sanyal, who was born into a family of traditional dhrupad singers and who now teaches and performs internationally.
If you are interested in learning more about dhrupad or hearing this beautiful music for yourself, there are plenty of resources available online and in print. In addition, there are several festivals devoted to dhrupad held every year in different parts of India; attending one of these festivals is an excellent way to connect with this living tradition.
Tarana is a type of composition in Hindustani music that is similar to a thumri in structure, but with a more rhythm-centric focus. The word “tarana” comes from the Sanskrit word “taranga,” which means “wave.” Taranas are sung in a fast tempo and often use words that are nonsensical or have no meaning, in order to allow the singer to focus on the rhythmic patterns of the composition.
Thumri is a vocal form associated with light classical music from North India. It is traditionally performed by female vocalists, although male performers do exist. The music is based on Hindustani classical traditions, but with a lighter, more delicate feel. The lyrics of thumri are usually in Persian or Urdu, and often tellstories of love and loss.
The Different Instruments Used in Indian Classical Music
Indian classical music is primarily concerned with the instrumental music of North India. It is based on a system of ragas, which are melodic scales, and talas, which are rhythmic patterns. The main instruments used in this type of music are the sitar, the tabla, and the Dilruba.
The sitar is a plucked stringed instrument principally used in Hindustani music. The instrument finds its origins in the Middle East, and was introduced to India by the Persians in the 13th century. It is believed that the first sitars were made from the fusing of two instruments–the Veena and the Pakhawaj–although this theory has not been proven definitively.
The sitar has a wide, gourd-shaped resonator and a long, fretted neck. It is usually played with a plectrum ( picks) made from tropical fruit tree ivory, bone or horn. The strings are plucked with the right hand while the left hand manipulates the frets. The right hand can also produce sympathetic vibrations by touching the strings lightly with the fingers.
There are four main types of sitars–the Rudra Veena, Gandhar Pancham Sitara, Miraj Sitara and Sarod Gatta–although there are many variations of these as well. Each type has a different number of strings and unique playing techniques associated with it. The Rudra Veena, for example, has 11 playing strings and 7 sympathetic strings, while the Gandhar Pancham Sitara has 6 playing strings and 5 sympathetic strings.
The sitar is traditionally used to play Hindustani classical music, although it has also been adapted for use in other genres such as film music and fusion. In recent years, the instrument has gained popularity all over the world due in part to its incorporation into Western music by artists such as George Harrison of The Beatles and Ravi Shankar, one of the foremost sitar players of our time.
The Sarod is a string instrument used in Indian classical music. It is a fretless instrument with a resonating chamber that gives it a unique sound. The sarod is believed to have originated in Persia, and it was first introduced to India by the Mughals in the 16th century. The sarod has a long neck and a small body, and it is played with a pick. The Sarod is a very popular instrument in India, and it is often used in film scores and Indian classical music concerts.
The tabla is a popular Indian percussion instrument used in Hindustani classical music. The instrument consists of a pair of drums, which are played with the hands. The right hand drum, called the daya or baya, is larger and lower in pitch. The left hand drum, called the tabla, is smaller and higher in pitch.
The tabla is believed to have originated in Persia or Central Asia. It was introduced to India by the Mughals in the 16th century. The tabla has since become an integral part of Indian classical music. It is used both as an accompaniment to other instruments and as a solo instrument.
There are two main types of tabla: the North Indian or Hindustani style and the South Indian or Carnatic style. The Hindustani style is more common in northern India, while the Carnatic style is more common in southern India.
The tabla is usually made from teak or sheesham wood. The drums are covered with skin or calfskin. The daya is usually tuned to a lower pitch than the tabla. The skin of the daya is stretched over a metal ring called a zaraq. The skin of the tabla is stretched over a wooden hoop called a bhala.
Thetablais played with the hands using various techniques such as striking, pressing, rubbing, and blowing. These techniques produce different sounds that are used to create rhythms. Tabla players use their fingers, palms, and sometimes even their elbows and forearms to strike the drums.
Tabla players traditionally sit cross-legged on the floor when playing. They may also use a small stool or stand if they prefer.
The shehnai is a North Indian classical music instrument. It is made of wood and has a double reed that produces a very unique sound. The instrument is often used for weddings and other special occasions.
The shehnai is usually played with a plectrum, or pick. The player holds the instrument in one hand and blows into the reed with the other. The fingers of the blowing hand are used to control the pitch.
The shehnai has a range of two octaves and can be tuned to any major or minor scale. It is commonly used in Hindustani classical music, as well as in film music and folk music.
Learning Indian Classical Music
Indian classical music is a genre of South Asian music. It has two major traditions: the North Indian classical music tradition and the South Indian classical music tradition. Indian classical music is one of the oldest musical traditions in the world. The 13th-century scholar and musician Abu’l Hasan ‘Alī Ibn Bājja said: “I have seen in India four things which have amazed me: the elephant, the cobra, the peacock, and the temple where I heard the music of the gods”.
Finding a Teacher
One of the best ways to learn Indian classical music is to find a teacher. A good teacher can provide you with the guidance and structure you need to progress in your studies. They can also help you develop a deeper understanding of the music and culture.
There are many ways to find a teacher. You can ask friends or family members if they know anyone who teaches Indian classical music. You can also search online directories or listings in your local community. Once you have found a few potential teachers, it is important to interview them to find the best fit for your needs.
Books and Resources
If you’re just starting out, we recommend the following books and resources to get you started on your Journey of Learning Indian Classical Music:
The Basics of Indian Classical Music by Sudha Khandwani – This book provides a great introduction to the world of Indian Classical Music, covering everything from the history and origins of the music, to key concepts and terms, to different styles and conventions.
A Beginner’s Guide to Hindustani Classical Music by Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande – This book is geared specifically towards Hindustani Classical Music, and provides a comprehensive introduction to the different genres, styles, instruments, and famous artists associated with this tradition.
RagaVogue: An Introduction to Ragas in Hindustani Classical Music by Arun Alexander – This book is a great resource for learning about the different ragas used in Hindustani Classical Music. It includes descriptions of each raga, as well as notation and audio recordings of some of the most popular ragas.
Indian Classical Music For Dummies by Suvarnalata Rao – This book provides a general introduction to Indian Classical Music, covering topics such as history, theory, notation, instruments, and vocal techniques.
The internet has made it easier than ever to learn Indian classical music, with a plethora of online resources available at your fingertips. Here are some of the best online resources for learning Indian classical music:
-Sa Re Ga Ma: This website offers a comprehensive guide to learning Indian classical music, with articles on everything from the history of the genre to tips on how to get started.
-iClassical: iClassical is an online music school that offers classes on a variety of different instruments, including Indian classical music. Their Indian classical music course is taught by world-renowned sitarist Ravi Shankar, and is perfect for beginners who want to learn the basics of this genre.
-Sarangi Bazaar: Sarangi Bazaar is an online store that sells a variety of Sarangis (a type of stringed instrument used in Indian classical music), as well as other musical instruments and accessories. They also offer beginner’s classes on how to play the Sarangi.
-Carnatic Music Lessons: Carnatic Music Lessons is a website that offers lessons on Carnatic (South Indian) Classical Music. The site is run by acclaimed Carnatic musician T.M. Krishna, and offers both free and paid courses depending on your level of expertise.