There are many important events in the history of Indian music. These milestones show clearly the development of musical thought from early history to the present day.
The early history of Indian music may be explained by the Indo-European theory. According to this theory, there was a culture, or group of cultures who were so successful that they spread throughout Europe and parts of Asia. Although no one knows where they came from, present thought tends to place their origins somewhere in Eurasia, either north of the Black sea or north of the Caspian (Mallory 1989). Within this family there are several major groups. Indo-Aryan is a group which has special significance for India because this is the language and culture which generated the Vedas and other classical texts of ancient India. The classical music of India is said to have its roots in this culture.
The connection between Indo-European expansion and Indian music may be seen in mythology. Mythology refers to music being brought to the people of India from a place of celestial beings. This mythical land (Gandharva Desh) is usually equated with heaven. However, some are of the opinion that this mythical land could actually be Kandahar in what is the modern Afghanistan. Therefore, the myths of music being given to the world by the celestial beings (gandharva) may actually represent a cultural connection with this ancient Indo-Aryan homeland.
Further evidence may be seen in musical structure. In the first few centuries B.C., Indian music was based upon seven modes (scales). It is probably no coincidence that Greek music was also based upon seven modes. Furthermore, the Indian scales follow the same process of modulation (murchana) that was found in ancient Greek music. Since Greece is also Indo-European, this is another piece of evidence for the Indo-European connection.
The link to Sanskrit is another strong indication of Indo-European roots. Many of the earliest texts were written in Sanskrit. It is also generally believed that classical music is derived from the Samaveda. However it should be stressed that this belief is hard to justify because intermediate forms have never been found.
In the final analysis, the roots of classical music being Indo-European / Indo-Aryan are a reflection of modern paradigms concerning ancient Indian history. Although supporting evidence may be slim, conflicting evidence is conspicuous by its absence. Until we are faced with significant conflicting evidence we should accept the Indo-European /Indo-Aryan theory.
The nature of music in prehistoric India may be obscure but the picture begins to become clear in the first few centuries B.C.. Bharata's Natya-Shastra (circa 200 B.C.), provides a detailed account of stagecraft in that period. Here we find mention of seven shuddha jati (pure modes) and eleven mixed jatis (modal forms not produced by simple modulation). There is also a very detailed discussion of the musical instruments.
The first millennium provides us with several texts which show the evolution of Indian music. The Brihaddeshi written by Matanga (circa 700 A.D.) is very important. It is in this work that we first find the word "rag" mentioned. However, there is some doubt whether the concept was the same as it is today. Another important text is the "Sangeet Ratnakar" by Sharangdev. This work, written around the thirteenth century, gives extensive commentaries about numerous musical styles that existed at that time.
Perhaps one of the most significant milestones in the development of Indian music was the life of Amir Khusru(Bhatkhande 1934)(born circa 1253, died 1325). There is a tendency among Indians to attribute the development of almost everything to him. He is erroneously referred to as the inventor of the sitar and tabla and numerous musical forms which did not develop until many centuries after his death. Although the extent of his contribution to Indian music is more legendary than factual, he nevertheless symbolizes a crucial turning point in the development of Indian music. Amir Khusru is an icon representing a growing Persian influence on the music. This influence was felt to a greater extent in the North than in the South. The consequence of this differing degree of influence ultimately resulted in the bifurcation of Indian music into two distinct systems;
The north Indian system of music is known as Hindustani Sangeet or sometimes Hindusthani Sangit. It covers an area that extends roughly from Bangladesh through northern and central India into Pakistan and as far as Afghanistan.
The usual interpretation states that theHindustani system may be thought of as a mixture of traditional Hindu musical concepts and Persian performance practice. The advent of Islamic rule over northern India caused the musicians to seek patronage in the courts of the new rulers. These rulers, often of foreign extraction, had strong cultural and religious sentiments focused outside of India; yet they lived in, and administered kingdoms which retained their traditional Hindu culture. Several centuries of this arrangement caused the Hindu music to absorb musical influences from the Islamic world, primarily greater Persia. Although this is the usual view, there are reasons to think that this is an over-simplification
There are a number of musical instruments that we associate with Hindustani sangeet. The most famous is the sitarand tabla. Other less well known instruments are the sarod, sarangi and a host of others.
Some of the major vocal forms associated with Hindustani Sangeet are the kheyal, gazal, and thumri. Other styles which are also important are the dhrupad, dhammar, and tarana. This is just a small sampling for there are many other vocal styles that we will have to discuss elsewhere.
NORTH INDIAN MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
- Vichitra Vina
- Tabla Tarang
NORTH INDIAN VOCAL STYLES
- Kirtan or Dhun
- Film Songs
- Folk Music
NORTH INDIAN INSTRUMENTAL STYLES
Carnatic sangeet, (Karnatik Sangit) is the south Indian system of music. It has a rich history and a very sophisticated theoretical system. The performers and composers have, gained a world class reputation by singing and playing instruments such as veena (vina), gottuvadyam, violin, and mridangam.
In the West, Carnatic Sangeet is not as well known as Hindustani Sangeet (north Indian music). Whenever Westerners think of Indian music, they immediately think of Ravi Shankar and the sitar. Although South Indian music is extremely sophisticated, there has not emerged an artist with the worldwide recognition that North Indians, like Ravi Shankar, have been able to generate.
HISTORY OF CARNATIC SANGEET
We can begin our discussion of the history of Carnatic Sangeet with Purandardas (1480-1564). He is considered to be the father of Carnatic Sangeet. He is given credit for the codification of the method of education, and is also credited with several thousand songs.
Venkat Mukhi Swami (17th century) is the grand theorist of Carnatic music. He was the one who developed themelakarta system. This is the system for classifying south Indian rags.
Carnatic music really acquired its present form in the 18th century. It was during this period that the "trinity" of Carnatic music, Thyagaraja, Shamashastri, and Muthuswami Dikshitar composed their famous compositions. In addition to our "trinity". Numerous other musicians and composers enriched this tradition. Some notable personalities were; Papanasam Shivan, Gopala Krishna Bharati, Swati Tirunal, Mysore Vasudevachar, Narayan Tirtha, Uttukadu Venkatasubbair, Arunagiri Nathar, and Annamacharya.
CARNATIC MUSIC THEORY
Carnatic music has a very highly developed theoretical system. It is based upon a complex system of ragam (rag)and thalam (tal). These describe the intricacies of the melodic and rhythmic forms respectively.
The melodic foundation is the ragam (rag). Ragam (rag) is basically the scale. The seven notes of the scale are Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Dha and Ni. However, unlike a simple scale there are certain melodic restrictions and obligations. Eachragam (rag) has a particular way that it moves from note to note.
The ragams are categorised into various modes. These are referred to as mela, and there are 72 in number. Themela are conceptually similar to the thats of North Indian music. There is however, a major difference. South Indian scales allow chromatic forms that are not allowed in Hindustani sangeet. For instance it is perfectly acceptable for the first three notes (i.e., Sa Re Ga to all be roughly one semitone apart. It is these permissible forms which allow there to be so manymela.
The tal (thalam) is the rhythmic foundation to the system. The south Indian tals are defined by a system of clapping and waving, while this is much less important in the north. North Indian musicians define their tals by their theka.
Nomenclature is one of the biggest differences between North and South Indian music. It is normal for a particular rag or tal to be called one thing in the North and something totally different in the South. It is also common for the same name to be applied to very different rags and tals. It is theses differences in nomenclature that have made any theoretical reconciliation difficult.
INSTRUMENTS USED IN SOUTH INDIAN MUSIC
- Thalam (manjira)
- Thambura (tambura)
The reasons for the differentiation between North, and South Indian
music is not clear. The generally held belief is that North Indian music evolved along different lines due to an increased exposure to the Islamic world. This results from nearly 800 years of Islamic rule over northern India.
Unfortunately, evidence suggests that this answer is a gross over simplification. For instance, Kerala has an extremely large Muslim population, but virtually no identification with north Indian music. By the same token, the Islamic influence over Orissa was negligible, yet the artistic forms are clearly identifiable as Hindustani. Although there is a poor correlation between the geographical distribution of Hindus / Muslims and the two musical systems; there is an almost exact correlation between the Indo-European/Dravidian cultures and the two musical systems.
Therefore, we come to the politically uncomfortable, yet inescapable conclusion that the differences between North and South Indian music does not represent a differentiation caused by Islamic influence, but instead represents a continuation of fundamental cultural differences.
Carnatic Sangeet is found in the south Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Carnatica. These states are known for their strong presentation of Dravidian culture.