indian music

Hindustani music
Main article: Hindustani classical music

Hindustani music is an Indian classical music tradition that goes back to Vedic times around 1000 BC, and further

developed circa the 13th and 14th centuries AD with Persian influences and from existing religious and folk music. The

practice of singing based on notes was popular even from the Vedic times where the hymns in Sama Veda, a sacred

text, was sung as Samagana and not chanted. Developing a strong and diverse tradition over several centuries, it has

contemporary traditions established primarily in India but also in Pakistan and Bangladesh. In contrast to Carnatic

music, the other main Indian classical music tradition originating from the South, Hindustani music was not only

influenced by ancient Hindu musical traditions, historical Vedic philosophy and native Indian sounds but also enriched

by the Persian performance practices of the Mughals. Besides pure classical, there are also several semi-classical forms

such as thumri, dadra and tappa.

Carnatic music
Main article: Carnatic music

The present form of Carnatic music is based on historical developments that can be traced to the 15th - 16th centuries

AD and thereafter. From the ancient Sanskrit works available, and the epigraphical evidence, the history of classical

musical traditions can be traced back about 2500 years.

Carnatic music is completely melodic, with improvised variations. The main emphasis is on vocal music; most

compositions are written to be sung, and even when played on instruments, they are meant to be performed in a

singing style (known as gāyaki). Like Hindustani music, Carnatic music rests on two main elements: rāga', the modes

or melodic formulæ, and tāḷa, the rhythmic cycles.

It is foundation for most music in South India, including folk music, festival music and in last 100 years in film music.

Folk music

A pair of Indian folk musicians performing in a rural village
Main article: Indian folk music

Bihu of Assam

Bihu dancer playing a 'pepa' (horn)

Bihu is the festival of New Year of Assam falling on mid April. This is a festival of nature and mother earth where the

first day is for the cows and buffalos. Second day is for the man. Bihu dancesand songs accompanied by traditional

drums and wind instruments are essential part of this festival.


The Bauls of Bengal are an order of musicians dating back to the 17th century, who play a form of Vaishnava music

using a khamak, ektara and dotara. The word Baul comes from Sanskrit batul meaning divinely inspired insanity. They

are a group of mystic minstrels with a syncretic form of Vaishnavism influenced by Sufism and Buddhism. They are

itinerant singer-poets whose music is earthy, and reflects on the infinite amid quotidian contexts of work and love.

They have also been influenced by Hindu tantric sect of the Kartabhajas and also by Sufi sects. Bauls travel in search of

the internal ideal, Maner Manush (Man of the Heart).

Main article: Bhangra

[Bhangra] are a lively form of music and dance that originated in the Punjab region to celebrate Vaisakhi, the festival

of the Sikhs.Knowledge of Punjabi history offers important insights into the meaning of the music. While Bhangra

began as a part of harvest festival celebrations, it eventually became a part of such diverse occasions as weddings and

New Year celebrations. Moreover, during the last thirty years, Bhangra has enjoyed a surge in popularity worldwide,

both in traditional form and as a fusion with genres such as hip-hop, house, and reggae, and in such forms it has

become a pop sensation in the United Kingdom and North America.

Main article: Dandiya

Dandiya is a form of dance-oriented folk music that has also been adapted for pop music. The present musical style is

derived from the traditional musical accompaniment to the folk dance. It is practised in (mainly) the state of Gujrat.

Actually Dandiya is a kind of dance rather than a music, the music is called a Garba in local language.


Ganasangeet is generally sung in chorus carrying some social message.[1] The songs are usually about Freedom,

community strength, patriotism. Due to the British occupation in India, a lot of protest songs about anti-

imperialism/pro-socialism have been written in India. Examples: Apni Azadi Ko Hum Hargis Mita Sakte Nahin, ajadee

hoyni tor, Kadam kadam badhaye jaa, Vande Mataram, etc.

Uttarakhandi Music

Uttarakhandi folk music had its root in the lap of nature. The pure and blessed music have the feel and the touch of

nature and subjects related to nature. The folk music primarily is related to the various festivals, religious traditions,

folk stories and simple life of the people of Uttarakhand. Thus the songs of Uttarakhand are a true reflection of the

Cultural Heritage and the way people lives their lives in the Himalayas. Musical instruments used in Uttarakhand

music include the dhol, damoun, turri, ransingha, dholki, daur, thali, bhankora and masakbhaja. Tabla and harmonium

are also used, but to a lesser extent. The main languages are Kumaoni and Garhwali.

Haryanavi Music
Main article: Music of Haryana

The folk Music of Haryana has been spread by the Bhats, Saangis and Jogis. It is sung and played in the state of

Haryana, parts of western UP and neighboring districts of Rajasthan and Punjab. The tradition of music in Haryana

goes back to the Vedic times, and it is the only state in India to have towns and villages named after different ragas.

Haryana is rich in folk music, whose roots are firmly entrenched in the classical music of yore. The famous Sringar rasa

(based on love songs) has an indirect association with renowned ragas like Bhairavi, Jayjaywanti, Gara (a Persian

style), Khamaj and Kafi. However, the folk singer has no idea what a raga is and just goes out and sings.

Mainly string instruments are used to make music. The sarangi is generally preferred. For the wind instruments, the

been and the bansuri provide lilting tunes in tandem with the dholak, a drum usually played with the palms or little

sticks. A matka (earthen pitcher) may replace the dholak in certain areas to form the backbeat. The Jogis, Bhats and

Sangis are the people who have made folk music popular in Haryana. The Jogis prefer the sarangi to form the musical

backdrop to their songs which revolve around tales of chivalry and valour.

There are other famous instruments which are used along with singing. The shehnai (a flute-like instrument played

mainly at weddings), shankh (conch shell), harmonium, damru (a small palm-held drum with strings attached to

beads which hit the sides when shaken), nagara, ghungru, tasha, khanjri and manjira. Musical genuises, these

Haryanavis; they create music even with matchsticks, papaya (yes, the fruit!), the hard core of a mango and a strip of


Main article: Lavani

Lavani comes from the word Lavanya which means beauty. This is one of the most popular forms of dance and music

that is practiced all over Maharashtra. It has in fact become a necessary part of the Maharashtrian folk dance

performances. Traditionally, the songs are sung by female artistes, but male artistes may occasionally sing Lavanis.

The dance format associated with Lavani is known as Tamasha. Lavani is a combination of traditional song and dance,

which particularly performed to the enchanting beats of 'Dholak', an drum like instrument. Dance performed by

attractive women wearing nine-yard saris. They are sung in a quick tempo. The verve, the enthusiasm, the rhythm and

above all the very beat of India finds an expressive declaration amidst the folk music of India, which has somewhat,

redefined the term "bliss". Lavani originated in the arid region of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

Popular music

The biggest form of Indian popular music is filmi, or songs from Indian films, it makes up 72% of the music sales in

India.[1] The film industry of India supported music by according reverence to classical music while utilizing the

western orchestration to support Indian melodies. Music composers like Naushad, C. Ramchandra, S D Batish, Salil

Chowdhury, A. R. Rahman, Ilaiyaraja and S. D. Burman employed the principles of harmony while retaining classical

and folk flavor. Reputed names in the domain of Indian classical music like Ravi Shankar, Vilayat Khan, Ali Akbar Khan

and Ram Narayan have also composed music for films. Independent pop acts such as Asha Bhosle, Udit Narayan,

Alisha Chinai, Shaan, Madhushree, Shreya Ghoshal, Nihira Joshi, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Sonu Nigam, Sukhwinder

Singh, Kunal Ganjawala, Sunidhi Chauhan, Alka Yagnik and rock bands like Indus Creed, Indian Ocean, and Euphoria

exist and have gained some mass appeal with the advent of cable music television.

Main article: Qawwali

Qawwali is a Sufi form of devotional music based on the principles of classical music. It is performed with one or two

or many lead singers, several chorus singers, harmonium, tabla, and dholak.

Rabindra Sangeet

Rabindranath Tagore was a towering figure in Indian music. Writing in Bengali, he created a library of over 2,000

songs now known by Bengalis as 'rabindra sangeet' whose form is primarily influenced by Hindustani classical, sub-

classicals, Karnatic, western, bauls, bhatiyali and different folk songs of India. Many singers in West Bengal and

Bangladesh base their entire careers on the singing of Tagore musical masterpieces. The national anthem of India and

national anthem of Bangladesh are Rabindra Sangeets.

Main article: Music of Rajasthan

Rajasthan has a very diverse cultural collection of musician castes, including Langas, Sapera, Bhopa, Jogi and

Manganiyar (lit. the ones who ask/beg). Rajasthan Diary quotes it as a soulful, full-throated music with Harmonious

diversity. The haunting melody of Rajasthan evokes from a variety of delightfully primitive looking instruments. The

stringed variety include the Sarangi, Rawanhattha, Kamayacha, Morsing and Ektara. Percussion instruments come in

all shapes and sizes from the huge Nagaras and Dhols to the tiny Damrus. The Daf and Chang are a big favourite of

Holi (the festival of colours) revellers. Flutes and bagpipers come in local flavours such as Shehnai, Poongi, Algoza,

Tarpi, Been and Bankia.

The essence of Rajasthani music is derived from the creative symphony of string instruments, percussion instruments

and wind instruments accompanied by melodious renditions of folk singers. It enjoys a respectable presence in

Bollywood music as well.

Interaction with non-Indian music

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, rock and roll fusions with Indian music were well-known throughout Europe and

North America. Ali Akbar Khan's 1955 performance in the United States was perhaps the beginning of this trend.

Jazz pioneers such as John Coltrane—who recorded a composition entitled 'India' during the November 1961 sessions

for his album Live At The Village Vanguard (the track was not released until 1963 on Coltrane's album Impressions)—

also embraced this fusion. George Harrison (of the Beatles) played the sitar on the song "Norwegian Wood (This Bird

Has Flown)" in 1965, which sparked interest from Shankar, who subsequently took Harrison as his apprentice. Jazz

innovator Miles Davis recorded and performed with musicians like Khalil Balakrishna, Bihari Sharma, and Badal Roy in

his post-1968 electric ensembles. Virtuoso jazz guitarist John McLaughlin spent several years in Madurai learning

Carnatic music and incorporated it into many of his acts including Shakti which featured prominent Indian musicians.

Other Western artists such as the Grateful Dead, Incredible String Band, the Rolling Stones, the Move and Traffic soon

incorporated Indian influences and instruments, and added Indian performers. Legendary Grateful Dead frontman

Jerry Garcia joined guitarist Sanjay Mishra on his classic cd "Blue Incantation" (1995). Mishra also wrote an original

score for French Director Eric Heumann for his film Port Djema (1996) which won best score at Hamptons film festival

and The Golden Bear at Berlin. in 2000 he recorded Rescue with drummer Dennis Chambers (Carlos Santana, John

McLaughlin et al.) and in 2006 Chateau Benares with guests DJ Logic and Keller Williams (guitar and bass).

Though the Indian music craze soon died down among mainstream audiences, die hard fans and immigrants continued

the fusion. In 1985, a beat oriented, Raga Rock hybrid called Sitar Power by Ashwin Batish reintroduced sitar in

western nations. Sitar Power drew the attention of a number of record labels and was snapped up by Shanachie

Records of New Jersey to head their World Beat Ethno Pop division.

In the late 1980s, Indian-British artists fused Indian and Western traditions to make the Asian Underground. Since the

90's, Canadian born musician Nadaka who has spent most of his life in India, has been creating music that is an

acoustic fusion of Indian classical music with western styles. One such singer who has merged the Bhakti sangeet

tradition of India with the western non-India music is Krishna Das and sells music records of his musical sadhana.

In the new millennium, American hip-hop has featured Indian filmi and bhangra. Mainstream hip-hop artists have

sampled songs from Bollywood movies and have collaborated with Indian artists. Examples include Timbaland's

"Indian Flute", Erick Sermon and Redman's "React", Slum Village's "Disco", and Truth Hurts' hit song "Addictive",

which sampled a Lata Mangeshkar song, and The Black Eyed Peas sampled Asha Bhosle's song "Yeh Mera Dil" in their

hit single "Don't Phunk With My Heart". In 1997, the British band Cornershop paid tribute to Asha Bhosle with their

song Brimful of Asha, which became an international hit. British-born Indian artist Panjabi MC also had a Bhangra hit

in the U.S. with "Mundian To Bach Ke" which featured rapper Jay-Z. Asian Dub Foundation are not huge mainstream

stars, but their politically-charged rap and punk rock influenced sound has a multi-racial audience in their native UK. In

2008, international star Snoop Dogg appeared in a song in the film Singh Is Kinng. In 2007, Hip-Hop producer Madlib

released Beat Konducta Vol 3–4: Beat Konducta in India; an album which heavily samples and is inspired by the music

of India.

Sometimes, the music of India will fuse with the traditional music of other countries. For example, Delhi 2 Dublin [2], a

band based in Canada, is known for fusing Indian and Irish music, and Bhangraton is a fusion of Bhangra music with

reggaeton, which itself is a fusion of hip hop, reggae, and traditional Latin American music. [3]

Modern music

Indi-pop music
Main article: Indian pop

Indian pop music, often known as Indipop or Indi-pop, is based on an amalgamation of Indian folk and classical music,

and modern beats from different parts of the world. Pop music really started in the South Asian region with the

famous playback singer Ahmed Rushdi's song ‘Ko-Ko-Korina’ in 1966.[2]

After that, much of Indian Pop music comes from the Indian Film Industry, and until the 1990s, few singers like Usha

Uthup, Sharon Prabhakar, and Peenaz Masani outside it were popular. Since then, pop singers in the latter group have

included K.K, Baba Sehgal, Alisha Chinai, Shantanu Mukherjee aka Shaan, Sagarika, Colonial Cousins (Hariharan, Leslie

Lewis), Lucky Ali, and Sonu Nigam, and music composers like Jawahar Wattal, who made top selling albums with,

Daler Mehndi, Shubha Mudgal, Baba Sehgal, Swetha Shetty and Hans Raj Hans[3]

Besides those listed above, popular Indi-Pop singers include Zubeen Garg, Daler Mehndi, Raghav Sachar Rageshwari,

Devika Chawla, Bombay Vikings, Asha Bhosle, Sunidhi Chauhan, Bombay Rockers, Anu Malik, Jazzy B, Malkit Singh,

Hans Raj Hans, Raghav, Jay Sean, Juggy D, Rishi Rich, Sheila Chandra, Bally Sagoo, Punjabi MC, Bhangra Knights,

Mehnaz, and Sanober.

Recently, Indian pop has taken an interesting turn with the "remixing" of songs from past Indian movie songs, new

beats being added to them.

Rock & metal music
Main article: Indian rock

The rock music "scene" in India is extremely small when compared to filmi or fusion musicality "scenes" but has of

recent years come into its own, achieving a cult status of sorts. Rock music in India has its origins in 1960s and 70s

when international stars such as The Beatles visited India and brought their music with them. These artists'

collaboration with Indian musicians such as Ravi Shankar and Zakir Hussain have led to the development of Raga

Rock. International short wave radio stations such as The Voice of America, BBC, and Radio Ceylon played a major part

in bringing Western pop, folk, and rock music to the masses. You can hear some of the songs that were heard over

these stations during the 1960s here. However, Indian rock bands began to gain prominence only much later, around

the late 1980s. It was around this time that the rock band Indus Creed formerly known as The Rock Machine got itself

noticed on the international stage with hits like Rock N Roll Renegade. Other bands quickly followed. As of now, the

rock music scene in India is quietly growing day by day and gathering more support. With the introduction of MTV in

the early 1990s, Indians began to be exposed to various forms of rock such as grunge and speed metal. This influence

can be clearly seen in many Indian bands today. The cities of Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore have emerged as

major melting pots for rock and metal enthusiasts. Bangalore has been the hub for rock and metal movement in India.

Some prominent bands include Indian Ocean, Kryptos, Dementra, Pentagram, Reverrse Polarity, Hologram, Kashish,

Inner Sanctum, Thermal and a Quarter, Abandoned Agony, No Idea, Zero, Half Step Down, Scribe, Eastern Fare, Indus

Creed, Demonic Resurrection, Zygnema [Born Of Unity], Belial Bhoomi, Infernal Wrath, Thor, Prithvi, Agni, Exiled,

Cassini's Division, The Supersonics, Span, Camouflage, Five Little Indians and Nexus. The future looks encouraging

thanks to entities such as Green Ozone, DogmaTone Records, Eastern Fare Music Foundation, that are dedicated to

promoting and supporting Indian rock.

One of the most famous rock musicians in the world is the late Freddie Mercury of Queen. Born Farrokh Bomi Bulsara

to Indian parents in Zanzibar, he was raised in Panchgani near Mumbai. Mercury was influenced early on by the Indian

playback singer Lata Mangeshkar along with western influences such as Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon and

The Beatles.

Dance music
Main articles: Goa trance, Psychedelic trance, Charanjit Singh (musician), and Electronica

Indian Hip Hop

Indian Hip Hop music introduced in 1986 by Maestro ILAYARAJA. The first Indian rap song is Vanitha Mani Vana Mohini

(Tamil) Song from Movie Vikram. Sung by S.P.B. and S.Janaki where rap bit delivered by Kamalhasan.

Hip Hop music in India had started at around 1990 and Baba Sehgal is credited as India's first Rapper. Hip Hop music

became all the more famous with the song 'Pettai Rap' from the Tamil movie Kadhalan starring Prabhu Deva for

which the Music Director was A.R Rahman. The song catapulted Suresh Peters as a rapper and a Music Director.

Rap/Hip Hop was often used in the regional movies as fillers in between songs and off late has started to become main

stream songs. London based The Rishi Rich Project, Bally Sagoo and Canadian based Raghav further laid steady

foundations for Hip Hop/RnB music in India. California based Punjabi rapper Bohemia became one of the most well

known pioneers of Punjabi Rap in the country after producing tracks like 'Kali Denali' and 'Ek tera Pyar'. He became

the first Hip Hop artist to launch a full Desi Rap album signed to Universal Music India. He has also produced songs for

Bollywood movies like Chandni Chowk to China. Canadian based Hip Hop artist Ishq Bector became an outrage after

the release of his superhit single 'Aye Hip Hopper'. Malaysian based Yogi B and Natchatra brought in the culture of

Tamil Rap in India. After receiving various awards in Malaysia, now they are the most sorted out rappers in

Kollywood(Tamil Movie Industry). International artists like 50 Cent, Mobb Deep, The Black Eyed Peas etc. have

performed in India. Snoop Dogg appeared in a song from the film Singh Is Kinng in 2008 which popularized Hip Hop

music amongst the people of India.

Western classical music

The spread and following of Western classical music in India is almost entirely non-existent. It is mainly patronized by

the Indian Zoroastrian community and small esoteric groups with historical exposure to Western classical music.

Another esoteric group with significant patronage is the Protestant Christian community in Chennai and Bangalore. St

Andrews and St Georges in Chennai and St Marks in Bangalore are churches with regular pipe organ recitals. Western

Music education is also severely neglected and pretty rare in India. Western keyboard, drums and guitar instruction

being an exception as it has found some interest; mainly in an effort to create musicians to service contemporary

popular Indian music. Many reasons have been citied for the obscurity of Western classical music in India, a country

rich in its musical heritage by its own right, however the two main reasons are an utter lack of exposure and a passive

disinterest in what is considered esoteric at best. Also, the difficulty in importing Western musical instruments and

their rarity has also contributed to the obscurity of classical Western music.

Despite more than a century of exposure to Western classical music and two centuries of British colonialism, classical

music in India has never gained more than 'fringe' popularity. Many attempts to popularize Western classical music in

India have failed in the past due to disinterest and lack of sustained efforts. Today, Western classical music education

has improved with the help of numerous institutions in India. Institutions like Calcutta School of Music, Bangalore

School of Music, Eastern Fare Music Foundation,[4] Delhi School of Music, Delhi Music Academy, Mehli Mehta Music

Foundation and many others are dedicated to contributing to the progress or growth and supporting Western

classical music. In 1930, notable Mehli Mehta set up the Bombay Symphony Orchestra.

In 2006, the Symphony Orchestra of India was founded, housed at the NCPA in Mumbai. It has since presented two

short concert seasons per year.

Some prominent Indians in Western classical music are:
A.R.Rahman, Renowed music composer who won 2 Academy awards in 2009
Andre de Quadros, Conductor and Music Educator.
Zubin Mehta, Renowned music conductor.
Mehli Mehta, Father of Zubin, violinist and founding conductor of the Bombay Symphony Orchestra.
Ilaiyaraaja, the first Asian to compose a full symphony performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London's

Walthamstow Town Hall.
Naresh Sohal, British Indian-born composer.
Param Vir, British Indian-born composer.
Karishmeh Felfeli, Indian-born Irani pianist and radio broadcaster.
Sandee Bhagwati, German Indian-born composer.
Opera singers: Amar Muchhala, Patrizia Rosario

Further reading
Day, Charles Russell (1891). The Music and Musical instruments of Southern India and the Deccan. Adam Charles Black,

Clements, Sir Ernest (1913). Introduction to the Study of Indian Music. Longmans, Green & Co.,London.
Strangways, A.H. Fox (1914). The Music of Hindostan. Oxford at The Clarendon Press, London.
Popley, Herbert Arthur (1921). The Music of India. Association Press, Calcutta.
Killius, Rolf. Ritual Music and Hindu Rituals of Kerala. New Delhi: B.R. Rhythms, 2006..
Manuel, Peter.. Thumri in Historical and Stylistic Perspectives. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1989..
Manuel, Peter.. Cassette Culture: Popular Music and Technology in North India. University of Chicago Press, 1993. ISBN

Maycock, Robert and Hunt, Ken. "How to Listen - a Routemap of India". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham,

Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 2: Latin & North America, Caribbean, India,

Asia and Pacific, pp 63–69. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 1-85828-636-0
Hunt, Ken. "Ragas and Riches". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane,

Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 2: Latin & North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific, pp 70–78. Rough Guides Ltd,

Penguin Books. ISBN 1-85828-636-0.

See also
Indian musical instruments
List of regional genres of music
Carnatic music
Eastern Fare Music Foundation
Music of South Asia
Middle Eastern music
Hindustani Music
Sangita Ratnakara
References Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Music of India

^ Pinglay, Prachi (December 10, 2009). "Plans to start India music awards". BBC News. Retrieved May 19, 2010.
^ "Socio-political History of Modern Pop Music in Pakistan". Chowk. Retrieved 2008-06-27.
^ Music man with a golden touch The Hindu, December 9, 2002."..Daler Mehndi's "Dardi Rab Rab" and "Ho Jayegi

Balle Balle", Shubha Mudgal's "Ali More Angana", Shweta Shetty's "Deewane To Deewane Hain", Hans Raj Hans'

"Jhangar", Bhupi Chawla's "Jogiya Khalli Balli", Ila Arun's "Haule Haule", Malkit Singh's "Paaro", Ali Haider's "Mahi O

Mahi" and Sujat Khan's "Lajo Lajo".
^ "Outstanding Results for Eastern Fare in Trinity Guildhall Exam". G News. November 18, 2009.

External links
(French) Audio clips: Traditional music of India. Musée d'Ethnographie de Genève. Accessed November 25, 2010.
BBC Radio 3 Audio (45 minutes): The Nizamuddin shrine in Delhi. Accessed November 25, 2010.
BBC Radio 3 Audio (45 minutes): A mahfil Sufi gathering in Karachi. Accessed November 25, 2010.
BBC Radio 3 Audio (60 minutes): The Misra brothers perform Vedic chant. Accessed November 25, 2010.
BBC Radio 3 Audio (60 minutes): Rikhi Ram and sons, Nizami brothers. Accessed November 25, 2010.
BBC Radio 3 Audio (60 minutes): Rajasthan, Bombay and Trilok Gurtu. Accessed November 25, 2010.
BBC Radio 3 Audio (45 minutes): Gujurat - Praful Dave. Accessed November 25, 2010.
BBC Radio 3 Audio (45 minutes): Courtesan songs and music of the Bauls. Accessed November 25, 2010.
BBC Radio 3 Audio (60 minutes): Music from the Golden Temple of Amritsar. Accessed November 25, 2010.
(English) (French) Hindustani Rag Sangeet Online Audio and video archives, radio programs, articles.