The Beauty of Indian Culture is entrenched with-in the art of Indian Classical Music
Music has always been an important cultural and social factor throughout human history. Research shows that there are around 1300 music genres in the world.
The origin of music in India is attributed to divinity. According to legend, the origin of music is traced to Indian mythology. Music had always been in the realm of the Gandharvas, the divine singers.
From the Gandharvas, this celestial art form fell upon the great sage Narada, who is believed to be the first divine instrumentalist, holding his Veena.
There are many more examples to narrate the relation between music and Indian mythology. Brahma is said to have created the Mridangam, one of the most significant instruments in Indian music. Vishnu holds the Shankh which is said to have created the sound of 'Om'. Shiva who holds the Damroo [a small drum], is said to have created five of the ancient ragas; and Parvati, his consort is said to have created the sixth one.
Saraswati, the consort of Brahma, who holds a Veena is credited with the invention of the Swara. The young Krishna of Vrindavana is always depicted as carrying a flute and playing it. All these aspects gave a sacred nature to Indian classical music.
History of Music in India
Music and dance have been an integral part of Indian culture. India has hundreds of languages and music has spread throughout all aspects of Indian cultural life. Dr. Arnold Baker, the late Dutch Scholar of Indian music, wrote, 'It is impossible to divorce Indian music from the whole structure of Indian culture and philosophy'.
Ancient India was home to one of the world's most advanced urban civilizations, the Indus Valley excavations at the Indus Valley site have revealed many kinds of musical instruments such as the arched or bow-shaped harp and several varieties of drums. The famous bronze statue of a dancing girl clearly indicates the presence of music.
Coming to the Vedic Age, the Vedas, the earliest record of Indian culture composed in Sanskrit, contain valuable information about Indian classical music. During that period, music was used for religious ceremonies and social occasions. The Naṭyasastra attributed to sage Bharata Muni, composed around 200 BCE, is said to be the world's oldest treatise on music and performing arts.
From the Mauryas to the Mughals, and from the Portuguese to the British, the culture of Indian people has gone through many phases of cultural changes. With the advent of Islam in North India, the art of Indian music got mingled up with the Arabian and Persian elements of music.
Many Kings of ancient, medieval, and modern India were patrons of art as well as musicians themselves. To name a few; Amir Khusrau, Raja Mansingh Tomar of Gwalior, Rani Roopmathi of Mandu, Tansen, Tyagaraja, Maharaja Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma of Travancore, and Shadkala Govinda Marar.
There were Hindu musicians in Islamic courts and Muslim musicians in Hindu courts. Thus Indian music has developed through very complex interactions between peoples of different races and cultures over several thousand years.
Evidence of musical forms is found in Indian epics, miniature paintings, and historical accounts of foreign travelers, who have visited India. It is believed that the seven musical notes in Indian Music were originated from the sounds of animals and birds. As we all know, the 'seven swaras' as we know are- Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni.
Styles of Indian Classical Music
Today, we have two styles of Indian classical music: Hindustani Classical Music and the Carnatic Music
In simple words, the music of South India, especially the regions of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, is known as Carnatic music, while the music of North India is referred to as Indian Classical Music or Hindustani Music.
Hindustani music has been influenced by various elements of Arab, Persian, and Afghan cultures. Major musical instruments associated with Hindustani music are Veena, Tabla, Sarangi, Sitar, Santoor, Flute, and violin.
There are different styles of singing like the Dhrupad, Khayal, Tappa, Chaturanga, Tarana, Sargam, Thumri, Ragasagar, Dadra, Hori, and Dhamar. Indian classical music flourished under the Mughal empire. Dhrupad, one of the major forms of Hindustani classical music, reached its peaks at the court of Emperor Akbar.
Most of the Hindustani musicians trace their descent to Tansen, the legendary musician at Akbar's court. Amir Khusrau is considered one of the pioneers in making Ghazals. Hindustani classical music has much developed with the establishment of gharanas or music schools, where music training is given adherent to a particular musical style.
Carnatic music was originated in the 15-16th centuries during the Bhakti movement. Sri Purandara Dasa, a poet, and musician is considered the father of Carnatic music. Important elements of Carnatic music are Sruti, Swara, Raga, and Tala. Mridangam, Tabla, Ghatam, Morsing, Thampura, Flute, Harmonium, Veena and Violin are the major musical instruments used in Carnatic music.
Music has always been a part of our everyday life. As we have seen, the development of Indian music has passed through different stages from the Vedic age to the present day. Indian classical music can now be found in all corners of the world.
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