For all those wondering what Indian Classical Music is all about and the various aspects that make it different from other forms of music, we are sure this article is going to serve as an interesting read for you!
Indian Classical Music is classical music that belongs to the Indian subcontinent. It traces its origins to the Vedic scriptures that date back to more than 6000 years ago. These ancient texts revolve around the concept of Hinduism and are composed of four parts-Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, and Atharvaveda. When these chants developed a musical note over time, they gave rise to classical music.
The Indian classical music which started out in South Asia has now evolved to a powerful form of music that has spread its influence to different parts of the world. It primarily has two forms: Hindustani and Carnatic Classical Music.
Let’s dig a little into each one of them so you are able to grasp a better understanding of this music form.
The Hindustani Music form owes its origins to the Arab and Persian musical culture that influenced the region following the Islamic conquest of the northern subcontinent. Instrumental music is a heavy component of this form with specific variations arising from it which are purely based on the instrumental forms. are the sitar, sarod, sarangi ,shehnai ,tabla, and tanpura.
The Carnatic form is not influenced by Muslim culture unlike the previous one. While Hindustani music was prevalent in Northern India, Carnatic took over the southern part of the subcontinent. The intensity of the sound can be controlled better in this style and the time durations are also more well-defined here.
Some of the most commonly used instruments in classical music are as follows:
Sitar: This is a stringed instrument that is primarily used in the Hindustani form. It is named after a Persian instrument called the ’setar’ and gained widespread popularity during the Mughal period. Its distinctive sound arises from its strings, bridge design, a long hollow neck, and a gourd-shaped resonance chamber.
Tabla: This is a percussion instrument that has been a vital part of Hindustani music since the late 18th century. Today, it is not only used in the Indian subcontinent but in the neighboring countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh too.
Veena- This is a chordophone instrument that has evolved into many variations, such as lutes, zithers, and arched harps. It is known by different names such as the Rudra veena, the Saraswati veena, the Vichitra veena among others.
Mridangam: Like the table, this is also a percussion instrument but is the primary rhythmic accompaniment in Carnatic music.
RAGA & TAAL
Classical music takes heavy inspiration from nature and its various phenomena such as seasons or times of the day to create the ragas and taal.
Raga refers to a melodic framework for improvisation and composition. In simple terms, it refers to the mood of the music. There are hundreds of ragas in Indian Classical music and two of them are as follows:
Yaman Raag: This ancient raga is important in both Carnatic and Hindustani music(The two forms of Indian classical music). This raag is performed from sunset till late evening, Yaman is full of grace and beauty and evokes a mood of devotion and dedication. It is a raga that suggests an unconditional offering of everything one has at the altar of whatever one's calling may be, asking nothing in return.
Raag Bhimpalasi: An afternoon raga, sung from late afternoon to sunset, it is poignant and passionate, filled with yearning.
The next part of classical music we need to understand is the ‘taal’ which is nothing but the time cycle. It is essentially a meter that measures the count or beat in music.
We come to one of the most interesting questions now? What makes Indian classical music different from that of other forms, say, Bollywood music?
What makes a particular form of music stand out is its context and the purpose for which it has been created. Classical artists defend their music and are of the fervent belief that their style is for enlightenment.
Compare this with Bollywood music and you’ll realize that the latter is more focused on the entertainment aspect of music. Classical music is more disciplined and codified when compared to other forms. One needs a strong sense of dedication and utmost discipline to master this difficult form of music.
Indian classical music is a form of music that has strong spiritual roots. Engaging in this form of music will provide you with a sense of rejuvenation that will uplift not just your mind, but your soul too. We’re not going to lie, classical music is no piece of cake.
To be able to master this art, you need to have a strong sense of determination and discipline. These two core values are an absolute must for anyone who wishes to start out their journey into the classical world.
At Art Gharana, we strive to make your learning experience as engaging and educational as possible. We make an effort to curate our courses and curriculum in such a way that it is able to teach you the various aspects of this art form while ensuring that you are able to understand it at every step of the way.
Come join our classical music sessions to be able to understand this form of music from a deeper perspective. While it is encouraged to start music classes at an early age in our childhood where it is easier for us to take in the diverse range of aspects of the art form, we say that age is just a number when it comes to learning.
Join our sessions today and fall in love with the powerful world of Indian classical music.