Originally, in India there was only one system of music, but during the medieval period the North India came under the impact of the diverse musical influences of the Islamic world-particularly Persian, which led to the division of the Indian Music into two distinct schools the Hindustani (North Indian) and Karnataka (South Indian).
- But the basic features in both schools of music were common.
- The Indian music is of two types Marga-Sangit (mystical) and Desi Sangit (secular).
- The cause of music is pleasant sound termed in India “Nada”.
Indian music is divided into “Ragas” or melody-types.
- There are ten major “Ragas” or parent scales of which the most important are Yaman, Bilawata Khamaj, Bhairava, Purvi, Marwa, Kafi, Asawari, Bhairavi and Todi.
- The major Ragas or parent scales are further sub-divided into Ragas and Raginis so that we have about 200 types of melodies.
- Each Raga must have five notes, one principal one (called Vadi), one second important note (called Samvadi) and the rest assistant notes (called Anuvadi).
- Ragas are sung in various speeds and some move in a certain pitch.
Music has also its rhythmic beats which are divided into ‘tala’, ‘laya’ and ‘matra’.
- ‘Tala is a complete cycle of a metrical phrase composed of a fixed number of beats.
- ‘Laya’ is tempo-slow, medium, fast.
- ‘Matra’ is the smallest unit of the ‘Tala’.
Thus the gamut of several notes woven into a composition may be called a ‘Raga’. The Ragas can be sung without any instrumental accompaniment but generally take ‘Tabla’ (drim) for the purpose besides any stringed instrument.
They are sung at particular seasons and time of the day or night.
- Indian classical music consists of six principal Ragas and thirty Raginis.
- Music is adapted to the season of the year, hours of the day and mood of the performer.
- The Indian year is divided into six seasons and each season has its own Raga.
- The principal Ragas are Bhairavi, Hindol, Megha, Sriraga, Deepak and Malkaus.
- According to Indian concept of Music, each Raga is a demigod, wedded to five Raginis.
- Thus there are six Ragas and thirty Raginis.
The day is divided into six parts, and each is allotted to a particular Raga.
- Bhairav Raga is usually sung from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.
- Hindol from 8 a.m. to 12 noon.
- Megha from 12 noon to 4 p.m.
- Sriraga from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- Deepak from 8 p.m. to 12 midnight
- Malkaus from 12 midnight to 4 a.m.
- Beginning in the 13th century, with the establishment of Delhi Sultanate Islamic hegemony in the north is commonly believed to be associated with evolution of two distinct styles of musical practice in India.
- The Hindustani of north and the Karnataka of the south.
- Although the Hindustani system considered different from the Karnataka by virtue of presence of Persian and Turkish features in the former- musicians from Persia and central Asia were associated with courts in the North at least until the late seventeenth century.
Today the two main classical styles in India correspond geographically the linguistic areas of Indo-Aryan based languages in the north and Dravidian based languages in the south.
- Although analytically both can be considered two variants of one underlying system, the two systems are considered in India to distinct constituting separate theory systems, histories, composition and performers.
- Common to both systems are the fundamental concepts of pitch (svara) melody type (raga known as rag in the north and ragam in the south) and meter (tala, tal in the north and talam in the south).
- Both also use similar, types of performance ensembles with a vocalist or instrumentalist as soloist, a drummer as rhythmic accompanist and a drone provided by a tanpura.
- In the case of vocal soloist, a melodic accompanist on an instrument is also present.
Once the alap is ended the composition proper is performed. The composition is set to a recurring rhythmic cycle (tala).
Texts of most compositions are devotional, although these can take on a remarkably wide range of manifestations ranging from abstractly spiritual to the highly erotic.
Karnataka performance practice tends to give greater emphasis to the actual composition than is the case for Hindustani music.
The fixed and memorized composition along with its memorized variations are longer and constitute proportionately much more a given performance than in the north.
The principal Indian musical instrument as may be divided into four classes :
(i) stringed instruments, which have strings made of steel, copper or brass wires or silken cords. Such instruments are veena, sarod, sitar, tanpura, rabbad:
(ii) instruments played with bow, such as sarangi, dilruba, mayuri etc.,
(iii) drum instruments, which are played with bands on sticks, such as pakhawaj, tabla, naggara, dholak etc.,
(iv) wind or mouth instruments, which are played by blowing full or half breaths, such as, flute, bin, surna etc.