Tuesday, July 22, 2008

introduction to 'indian classical music'

The origins of Indian classical music 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. Indian classical music has its origins as a meditation tool for attaining self realization. All different forms of these melodies (Ragas) are believed to affect various "chakras" (energy centers, or "moods") in the path of the Kundalini. However, there is little mention of these esoteric beliefs in Bharat's Natyashastra, the first treatise laying down the fundamental principles of drama, dance and music. The Samaveda, one of the four Vedas, created out of Riga-Veda so that its hymns could be sung as Samagana, established its first pop.

Indian classical music has one of the most complex and complete musical systems ever developed. Like Western classical music, it divides the octave into 12 semitones of which the 7 basic notes are Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa, in order, replacing Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do. However, it uses the just intonation tuning (unlike Western classical music which uses the equal temperament tuning system).

Indian classical music is monophonic in nature and based around a single melody line which is played over a fixed drone. The performance is based melodically on particular ragas and rhythmically on talas.

The two main streams of Indian classical music are:

Hindustani classical music, originally from North India

Carnatic music (Karnataka Sangeetham), originally from South India

Ancient texts give fundamental rules of Indian music but modern writings of Pt. Omkarnath Thakur, Prof. Lalit Kishore Singh, Dr. Lalmani Misra, Acharya Brahaspati, Thakur Jaidev Singh, Prof. R.C. Mehta, Dr. Premlata Sharma, Dr. Subhadra Choudhary, Dr. Indrani Chakravarty, Dr. Ashok Ranade, Aban E. Mistry etc. have given a scientific basis to Indian music system. Besides these, scholars from other streams have also written about music. There are a number of biographies of Indian musicians although some critics feel that Indian litterateurs have not paid due attention to Indian classical music.

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