Indian classical music is a heritage that has evolved over the centuries. It is a blend of ritualistic, folk and cultural expression of the sub-continent and represents the music of different genres. At one extreme, it is classical music whilst at the other extreme; it is a mixture of musical genres of different regions that reflect the diversity of India.
Hindustani classical music has its origin as a form of meditation and is based upon ragas and taals each designed to affect different “chakras” (energy centers, or “moods”) in the path of the “Kundalini” of the human system. The history of Hindustani classical music is said to have originated during Vedic age.
During the period sacrifices and prayers were made to the Gods through hymns and chants in musical style. In India, has witnessed tremendous development in style and methodology.
Musicians such as Tansen, Amir Khusrou, etc., have contributed immensely to the progress of Indian music, the reputation of which is still being maintained in the modern era by musical stalwarts like Pandit Ravi Shankar, Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi, Pandit Jasraj, Prabha Atre, Sultan Khan, Zakir Hussain, and so on.
Carnatic music is prevalent in the south Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka. Carnatic music follows a pattern of mainly devotional themes, most of which are sung in the praise of Hindu deities.
Sitar, sarod, tabla, sarangi or dhrupad, khayal, ghazal or raga, tala, gharana- these are known the world over today. They represent Hindustani Art Music – in reality, a part of Indian Classical music.
Indian music has developed through very complex interactions between different peoples of different races and cultures over several thousand years. In a musical tradition in which improvisation predominates, and written notation, when used, is skeletal, the music of past generations is irrevocably lost.
However, references to music in ancient texts, aesthetic formulations, and depictions and written discussions of musical instruments can offer clues. In rare instances, an ancient musical style may be preserved in an unbroken oral tradition. For example, musical notes or the structure of a raga, as we know them today, must have had their origins in the Samavedic times.