Indian classical music – Notes for Competitive Exams

“Art and Culture” is one of the most important topics asked in the General Studies and General Knowledge” Section of many competitive exams like UPSC CSE, State PCS, CDS, NDA, FSSAI, SSC, and Others. we are providing students important topics that are the favourite to most of the examiners while framing questions. “Important Classical Music” is a part of this series and in this post, we are providing students with comprehensive notes on this topic. Sources of our notes are different government portals like “cultural India“, “Incredible India“, “Ministry of Culture” for the latest updates and many competitive books like NIOS, IGNOU, NCERT, the National Museum site for pictures and Wikipedia for static parts.

Music in India

Classical MusicNishant eAcademy

Indian classical music has contributed in a significant way towards the development of the composite culture of India. Besides, with regards to Indian classical music, it should be noted that the term ‘Classical’ only suggests that it has its foundations in the standard convention or shastra, in accordance with the textual tradition. The Indian name for this music is ShastriyaSangit. It is sometimes also known as Raga Sangit since it is the Raga that is at the centre of the structure of this art form. Thus, the term ‘classical’ doesn’t connote any old style or a specific time period, as the way it exists in the Western tradition.

Many different legends have grown up concerning the origin and development of Indian classical music.

Also, Read Folk dances in India

Hindustani classical music

  • Hindustani classical music originated in North India around the 13th and 14th centuries. In contrast to Carnatic music, Hindustani classical music was not only influenced by ancient Hindu musical traditions and Vedic philosophy, but also by the Persian elements.
  • Hindustani music is based on the Raga system. The Raga is a melodic scale, comprising of notes from the basic seven – Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, and Ni.
  • On the basis of notes included in it, each raga attains a different character. The form of the raga is also determined by the particular pattern of ascent and descent of the notes, which may not be strictly linear.
  • Hindustani classical music is primarily vocal-centric. The major vocal forms associated with Hindustani classical music are khayal, ghazal, dhrupad, Tappa, Tarana, and thumri.

Khayal

It is a form of vocal music and is adopted from medieval Persian music. It is based on the imagination and improvisations of the performer.

Dhrupad

It is the oldest form of Hindustani music and male singers traditionally perform this Music form. It is mostly a poetic form. Tansen Sang in dhrupad style.

Tappa

It is developed in the 18th century from the folk songs of camel riders of Punjab. They are essentially folklore of love and passion and the language is Punjabi. Developed as a form of classical music by Mian Ghulam Nabi Shori.

Tarana

It is a medium to a fast-paced song usually performed towards the end of the concert. It consists of a few lines of poetry with rhythmic syllables.

Thumri

It is an informal vocal form of Hindustani classical music and is said to have begun with the court of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the Nawab of Oudh.

Ghazal

It is an ancient form that originated in 6th century Arabic poetry but is also popular in India. Being in Poetry form, it consists of rhyming couplets on love and devotion and spread into South Asia in the 12th century, due to the influence of Sufi mystics.

Gharana

There is a rich tradition of Gharanas in classical Hindustani music. These schools or Gharanas have their basis in the traditional mode of musical training and education. Every Gharana has its own distinct features.

Gwalior Gharana

This is the oldest among all the Khayal Gayaki (vocal) styles. Its distinctive features are its lucidity and simplicity. Hassu Khan and Nathu Khan were the founders of Gwalior Gharana.

Agra Gharana

The Agra Gharana places great importance on developing forcefulness and deepness in the voice so that the notes are powerful and resonant founded by Haji Sujan Khan.

Kirana Gharana

It derives its name from the birthplace of Abdul Kharim Khan of Kirana near Kurukshetra. In the Kirana style of singing, the swara is used to create an emotional mood by means of elongation and the use of Kana-s.

Rampur Sahaswan Gharana

In Rampur Sahaswan Gharana, there is stress on the clarity of swara and the development and elaboration of the raga are done through a stepwise progression. Founded by Inayat Khan.

Patiala Gharana

Founded by Inayat Khan. Regarded as an off-shoot of the Delhi Gharana, the Patiala Gharana is characterized by the use of greater rhythm play and by Layakari with the abundant use of Bols, particularly Bol tans founded by Ustad Fateh Ali Khan.

Delhi Gharana

Tanras Khan and Shabbu Khan represent the Delhi Gharana. The highlights of Delhi Gharana are pleasing vistaar and exquisite compositions. Founded by Ustad Mamman Khan.

Banaras Gharana

The Banaras Gharana evolved as a result of the great tilting style of khayal singing known by Thumri singers of Banaras and Gaya. founded by Pt. Gopal Mishra.

Mewati Gharana

The Mewati Gharana gives importance to developing the mood of the raga through the notes forming it and its style is Bhava Pradhan. It also gives equal importance to the meaning of the text.

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