North Indian Classical Music


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North Indian Classical Music

  1. 1. By Anna Jagerhorn May 4, 2012
  2. 2. Music has always been an important part of the Indian culture - Its origin can be traced back almost 2,000 years. Indian classical music was invented in the old Hindutemples. A medium for expressing religion, belief, and values A gift - There had been a lot of violence, betrayal, and animosity all over the country during the transitionalperiods. It is said that the gods were deeply worried about these behavioral patterns. In order to changethe evil ways of humanity, the supreme creator delivered the gift of music. A variety of music - Due to the presence of several ethnic groups and castes, a variety of music has been produced. Socialinteractions and foreign invasions did also contribute to this musical diversity.
  3. 3.  Indian music is classified into three categories:- Traditional or folk music- Popular music-Classical music Classical music can also be divided into two separate groups:- Hindustani (northern India)- Carnatic (southern India)
  4. 4. There are many different instruments contributing to the IndianClassical music. They can be divided into six categories: Non-Membranous Percussive (Ghan) Blown Air (Sushir) Plucked Stringed Instruments (Tat) Bowed-Stringed Instruments (Vitat) Membranous Percussive (Avanaddh) Electronic
  5. 5. Most famous are the Sitar and Tabla. The Sitar is a chordophone, and a member of the Plucked Stringed Instruments.  17 strings; 3 or 4 of them are playing strings, and 3 or 4 are drone strings. Very unique sound - not similar to our Western stringed instruments. Tabla is part of the Membranous Percussive group (and is therefore a membranophone).  Compromise the drums.  One smaller and one bigger drum (Dayan and Bayan).  Evolved about 300 years ago
  6. 6. Indian harmonium is a combination of an aerophoneand a chordophone. The leader of an ensemble usually plays the melodyand the drone with this instrument. Looks like a small piano but has bellows, whichmake it look a little bit like an accordion.Bansuri is one of the most common Indianflutes, and it is of course an aerophone. Made of bamboo or reed Usually six holes. However, recently onehole has been added in order to increaseflexibility and correctness of pitch in higherregisters.
  7. 7.  A monophonic texture can be found in most songs,because of the single unaccompanied line. There are three layers of texture in Indian classicalmusic: rhythm, melody, and drone.
  8. 8.  The rhythm in Indian music is calledtala.It can be performed in free time or inmetered time.Usually isorhythm, and asymmetrical The Tala could be seen as a representation of the concept reincarnation, a typical principle in Hinduism, where they believe that life goes on forever. “A man is born, he enters puberty, adulthood, dies, and is born again.” The tala begins, develops, and then returns to the first beat again.
  9. 9.  The melody is accompanied by a drone and rhythmic instruments.The drone provides the harmony.The music (and the melody) is based upon a variety of different scales,called ragas, and on notes known as sa, re, ga, ma pa, dha, and ni.
  10. 10. A raga is not only a scale; it is a set of rules and principles. Itdoes include intonation, ornamentation, emotional expression,purpose and time of day, as well as the collection of notes. Each raga has its own characteristics (modes, notes, structure,and ornaments), and it is orally passed down from generation togeneration.The melody is either played by a bamboo flute or violin, orsung by voice.
  11. 11.  There are mainly six Indian dance styles that have been labeled as classicalBharat NatyamKathak Kathak,Kuchipudi classical Indian danceKathakaliManipuriOdissi Only two of them are from northern India - Kathak and Manipuri.Kathak is the major one.Kathak = “to tell a story.” The emphasis is now on rhythm and movement.The harmonium, tabla, and sitar are all used to accompany the dance.Kathak is performed with “beautiful expressions on the face, fast footsteps and also thefast body spinning
  12. 12. The roots of Indian classical music are religiousMusic was meant to create an understanding of the “true universe”Mental and spiritual well-being Fellowship and intercourse Entertainment Education andcultural heritage
  13. 13. Most famous festivals: the Tansen Music Festival, ITC SangeetSammelan, and the Dover Lane Music FestivalHeld once a yearMusic-lovers from all over the countryThe ITC Sangeet Sammelan is one of themost known and prestigious eventsof Indian classical music Started in Delhi 1971 Purpose is to preserve and encourageIndian classical music Awards
  14. 14.  Most common form of singing is calledkhyal = imagination Free, flexible form with room for improvisingA khyal song is called a bandish Sthayi (or asthayi) and the antara are the two subcategoriesof bandish, and these represents notes from lower respectivehigher octaves. Khyal replaced the earlier version of vocals called dhrupad=”fixed words” Here is an example of a classical hindustani song
  15. 15. Here is one of the many music videos they have created together. This one won the "gold" prize at the "Worldfest; International Film Festival" held in Houston Texas in the World Music Video competition.!
  16. 16. Tell me about your life in music. I became interested in Indian music when I was in High School. Wait, I think it was as early as in1968, when George Harrison of the Beatles began to learn sitar. An interest was born. I surroundedmyself with Indian friends who inspired me. I began my formal education when I was about20. When I was 22, I moved to India and began to study the tabla there. Today I teach, perform,write, and record.What was your earliest experience with North Indian classical music?It was through the recordings of Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, and Bismillah Khan that I becameexposed to Indian classical music.Who had the most important influences on your music?One person in particular had an influence on me. His name was Jayant Kirtane. The zeitgeist of the1960s was characterized by the rejection of materialism, suspicion of the status quo, and a basicattitude of rebelliousness. Jayant was an absolute embodiment of these qualities and I was able torelate to all of these characteristics. One of his qualities that affected me deeply was his passionfor North Indian classical music.However, I would say that Ravi Shankar has been a role model too. I have always been amazed byhis music. You see, I grew up in a totally non-musical family and had to find influential sourcesoutside my inner circle. In 1971, K. S. Kalsi began to teach me Indian music through practicaltraining. He was a great teacher, and I will always be grateful for what he taught me.
  17. 17. What instruments do you play?My main focus is on Tabla, but I know how to play Dholak, Dilruba, Pakhawaj, Esraj, Santur, Sarangi, andpiano. How did you learn to play the different instruments?Initially I learned tabla under an amateur musician here in Houston. Then I moved to California to the Ali AkbarCollege of Music and learned tabla and Pakhawaj under Zakir Hussain. Then I moved to India and learned tablaunder the late Shaik Dawood Khan. Over the years I was fortunate to receive training in dilruba under Sayeed ur-Rahman, santur under the late Hasaan Mohammad, and sarangi under Aslam Khan.What are the desirable qualities in a tabla player?There are several qualities. Let us presume that the basic training is there and that the basic musical senses (i.e.,sense of rhythm, sense of pitch, etc.) are developed. From there I can say that I believe a good tabla player is one whosees the music in the same way as the person that he is accompanying. That is that he (or she) has to sense when tobe aggressive and when to be supportive. The tabla player should also know how to make the tempo breath, that is tosay how to contract and expand the beats in order to put the life into the music. Finally I think that one should besensitive to the audience without pandering to the more basic tastes which may be present.What do you think is the most important aspect of Indian classical music?I do not think I could come up with any one quality and say that it is the most important, but if I had to I would saythat it would be the melodic form known as the "Rag"
  18. 18. Are there any political (social, religious, ceremonial etc.) ramifications to this type of music?Yes. Although an inordinately large number of north Indian classical musicians are Muslim, mainstream Hindureligious thought gives a very high priority to music. From a social standpoint, classical music is considered to be amark of the upper socio-economic classes, and from a political standpoint, traditional Indian music and dance hasalways had an important position in defining Indian self identity.What is the most important to keep in mind when playing Indian music?Stay grounded, stay calm, and stay centered!What is the most common theme in the songs?It depends upon the genre. But if we are talking about classical songs, it would be romantic lyrics of a womanexpressing her love and longing toward a man. But invariably it is written in such a way that it is a metaphor for apersons longing to be with God.Last question, what does your job include?As I said before, I teach, perform, write, and record. I have students of all ages. Some are as young as six years old,and the oldest are around sixty. I would say that it is good to start when you are young, as it is with everything, butit is never too late. I have written several books too.
  19. 19. So, what does the future hold?David Courtney says:“It [the music ]has changed a lot [lately]. However the specifics vary with the genre. In generalthere has been a downplaying in the importance of audience interaction but an increasedimportance paid to technique, and production value.[However] I believe that the tabla is here to stay. I do not know in what capacity though.Presently it is marginalized within the musical environment of the West. That isnt at all bad. Icertainly can imagine the tabla existing in its present form for many years to come. There is alsoa healthy number of session drummers with a capacity to play some tabla. The large Indianpopulation also means that there is going to be a permanent place for musicians who caterspecifically to the "deshi" musical market. But if you ask me if there is going to be a largerpenetration into the mainstream musical world, I have to say that I truly do not know. It ispossible, but I don’t want to guess.”
  20. 20.  Relaxing effect Very dissimilar to Western music Cultural understanding = easier to appreciate the musicIndian music opens a door to a world I did not know
  21. 21. Anderson, William M., and Patricia Shehan. Campbell. Multicultural Perspectives in Music Education. Reston, VA: Music Educators National Conference, 1989. Print.Clements, Ernest. Introduction to the Study of Indian Music: An Attempt to Reconcile Modern Hindustani Music with Ancient Musical Theory and to Propound an Accurate and Comprehensive Method of Treatment of the Subject of Indian Music Intonation. Allahabad: Kitab Mahal, 1912. Print.Courtney, Chandrakantha, and David Courtney. Indian Classical Music. 5 Feb. 2012. Web. 2 May 2012. <>.Dutta, M. Lets Know Music & Musical Instruments of India. London: IBS, 2008. Print.E Schmidt-Jones, Catherine. "Indian Classical Music: Tuning and Ragas." Connexions. 31 Jan. 2012. Web. 2 May 2012. <>.Lal, Vinay. "Manas: Culture, Music of India, Indian Vocal Music." 2011. Web. 03 May 2012. <>.Montfort, Matthew. "Indian Rhythmic Cycles." Ancient Future. Web. 2 May 2012. <>."Music Festivals." Music of India; Indobase. Web. 2 May 2012. <>.Radhika. "Indian Classical Dances." Desi Colours. 10 June 2008. Web. 2 May 2012. < dances/10/06/2008>.Rajan, Anjana. "Hindustani Classical Music ." Art India. 2007. Web. 2 May 2012. <>.