Music history of India

Music history of India

The origins of Indian classical music ("marga"), the classical music of India, can be found from the oldest of scriptures, part of the Hindu tradition, the Vedas. Samaveda, one of the four vedas describes music at length.

The two main streams of Indian classical music are Hindustani music, from North India, and Carnatic music from South India.

"Hindustani music"

Hindustani music is predominantly more than its south Indian counterpart. The prime themes of Hindustani music are Rasa Lila (Hindu devotionals) of Krishna and Nature in all its splendour. Bhimsen Joshi, Ravi Shankar, Hariprasad Chaurasia and Zakir Hussain are the arts' most popular living performers. Carnatic music is similar to Hindustani music in that it is mostly improvised, but it is much more theoretical with stricter rules. It emphasizes more on the expertise of the voice rather than on the instruments. Primary themes include Devi worship, Rama worship, descriptions of temples and patriotic songs. Among the most popular living performers are Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna, T V Sankaranarayanan, Madurai T N Seshagopalan and K J Yesudas.

Indian classical music is monophonic, and based around a single melody line. The performance of a composition, based melodically on one particular raga and rhythmically on one tala, begins with the performers coming out in a ritualized order -- drone instruments, then the soloist, then accompanists and percussionists. The musicians begin by tuning their instruments; this process often blends imperceptibly into the beginning of the music. Indian musical instruments used in classical music include veena, mridangam, tabla, kanjira, tambura, flute, sitar, gottuvadyam, violin and sarangi.

Carnatic music

Carnatic music or Karnatak music (Sanskrit कर्णाटक सङ्गीतं, Telugu కర్నాటక సంగీతం) is the classical music of South India, as opposed to the classical music of North India, called Hindustani music.

Carnatic music is largely devotional; most of the songs are addressed to the Hindu deities. There are a lot of songs emphasising love and other social issues.

As with all Indian music, the two main components of Carnatic music are "raga", a melodic pattern and "tala", a rhythmic pattern. (One might want to read these pages before proceeding.)

Carnatic music, whose foundation lies as far back as 2000 BC, began as a spiritual ritual of early Hinduism. It grew, along with Hindustani music, out of the Sama Veda tradition, until the Islamic invasions of North India in the late 12th century and early 13th century. From the 13th century onwards, there was a divergence in the forms of Indian music — the northern style being influenced by Arabic music (yet there are both Hindu and Muslim songs in Hindustani music.)

"Carnatic music" is named after the Southern region of the Indian subcontinent named by western colonists as "Carnatic". This name was used to refer to the region between the Eastern Ghats and the Coromandel Coast encompassing much of what is called today as South India. Thus the term "carnatic music" was used to denote "South Indian music."

See: Carnatic (region)

"See also": Carnatic classical music

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