Indian Music, Indian Classical Music, Ragas

Indian Music


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Music is the most interesting part of all the aspects of Indian life. Those visitors who have not been born in India, the music ranges from the mild bewilderment to confusion. In Indian classical music, what is said values much more than the manner in which it is said. A melodious voice is like an asset in Indian music, but at the same time the lack of it does not disqualify an otherwise gifted musician from saying his piece.


Raga literally means that which affects the mind with a particular feeling, passion or emotion. The structure of each raga and the melodic movement within its framework are governed by definite and extensive rules laid down in ancient treaties on music written much before the Christian era. There are about twenty two notes and microtones in the octave of the Indian music. The technique of the raga consists of the use of certain fixed notes and microtones, within its framework. But there is unlimited scope for improving within this fixed framework. Each artist can have his own individual interpretation and vision of a particular raga. No two renderings of the same raga by the same singer or player may be exactly the same. There is also no written composition in the Western sense for them.

Emotion is the raw material with which the Indian musician works. There is no narration or image-making. Each note in the octave has a definite expression and emotional value which is determined by its relation with the tonic. The particular groups of notes are combined to produce the phrases with some emotional expressions. The enjoyment of a particular emotional flavour of music is called Rasa. Indian ragas, which form the main body of classical music deals with four Rasas. These Rasas are the erotic, the pathetic, the beatific and the heroic. There are about 200 ragas which falls within one of these four categories. These ragas are common to the two main music systems in India, the Hindustani and the Carnatic music which are prevalent in the North and the South India, respectively. The basic framework of Indian music is the melody. The voice never isolates individual notes from the melodic line, but glides over the intervals that separate them. The constant accompanying rhythm, explicitly and prominently beaten out on a percussion instrument, is a feature of Indian music which every Indian takes for granted but which strikes others as extraordinary. Slow, medium and fast tempos are used in accordance with the mood of the musical passage. There are a very large number of rhythmic patterns, most of them of great intricacy, within which the performer moves with perfect ease. The Folk music is more popular than the Indian Classical music in India in many areas of the public entertainment, and seldom loses touch with the classical.


Different Mode of Indian Classical Music

During the past 40 years, there has been growing interest among the young people in America and Europe in the Indian music. The classical and the pop singers have seriously experimented with the different modes of music outside the usual Western tradition. Various pop singers have followed the lead given by the Beatles group and have used various instruments like the Sitar and Shehnai for exploration of eastern themes. John Mechaghlin and Dr. Zakir Hussain have created the Indo-Jazz fusion music. 

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