Music is a fact of life that we take for granted. A child starts crooning tunes long before learning to speak. From the beginning to the end of our life, we come across, appreciate and listen attentively to the form of music that appeals to us most. And unless one has an extremely inquisitive disposition, one naturally ignores investigation into something that permeates our daily routine from start to finish. I am attempting here to explore the North Indian music (Hindustani music).
Music has always occupied a central place in the imagination of Indians. The range of musical phenomenon in India, and indeed the rest of South Asia, extends from simple melodies, commonly encountered among hill tribes, to what is one of the most well- developed "systems" of classical music in the world. Indian music can be considered to be one of the oldest unbroken traditions in the world. The basis for Indian music can be derived from Sangeet, which involves vocal music, instrumental music, and dance. It is said that the origins of this system go back to the Vedas (ancient scripts of the Hindus).Indian music has seven modes and follows modulation like the Greek music. Sangeet is the basis of Indian music which consists of three art forms: vocal, instrumental, and dance.
Vocal music occupies a considerable part of Natya Shastra. The "Samaveda" is the oldest musical text in India. Most of the classical songs of north India are devotional in nature, but there are few genres which are especially oriented toward religion. Most notable is the bhajan, dhun or kirtan for Hindus, the kawali (qawali) for Muslims, and the shabad for Sikhs. Not all the music is serious; there are also many popular genres. The gazal is one style, which is known for it rich poetic, and romantic content. The Hindi geet which is basically just a song and undoubtedly the most popular is the film song .There are also a few genres which are oriented specifically toward musical education. The most notable example is a genre called lakshan geet. In this style the words of the song actually describe the rag which is being performed. India also has a rich tradition of folk music. These will vary from region to region.
The term "Indian Classical Music" refers to two related, but distinct, traditions rooted in antiquity. Both are very much alive in India today. The North Indian style is known as "Hindustani", while the South Indian tradition is referred to as "Carnatic". They vary in nomenclature and performance, even the instruments differ. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and Smt. Gangubai Hangal are vocalists well known to Hindustani music fans.
Indian music is different from Western music in two major ways:
1. All of Indian classical music is melody, and
2. Indian classical music is never written down, and cannot be played off a written score
If it was played off the score, it would lose its authenticity. Over centuries, the artists learn to play or sing by listening to the song. As the artist learns the song and plays it, he adds his own authenticity to the song. In this way, the work of numerous generations has been put together to make a singular song that has been made seamless over the years. This is how Indian music has survived over the years.
An important part of Hindustani music is the gharanas. A gharana is more a school of thought than an institution. It is a school of a particular style of singing or playing instruments. Each of the gharanas has distinct facets and styles of presentation and performance.
The basic scale of Hindustani music is similar to the western 12-note scale. The main difference is that the Hindustani scale is not tempered. Thus, the intervals between consecutive notes are not equal. They can be slightly varied to produce a feeling or atmosphere in accordance with the way they are singing. The notes themselves have different names. The Western convention for Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti is called Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha...