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  • The origin of Indian music goes back to the Vedas.
  • Amir Khusro has made immense contribution in literature and music and was associated with the royal empires of more than seven rulers of Delhi. He is regarded as the “father of Qawwali” (a devotional music form of the Sufis in the Indian subcontinent), and introduced the ghazal style of song into India.
  • Tansen was one of the jewels of Akbar’s court.
  • Indian music is divided into three main categories. These are Indian Classical music, Folk music and Modern music.


  • The basic concepts of classical music includes shruti (microtones), swara (notes), alankar (ornamentations), raga (melodies improvised from basic grammars), and tala (rhythmic patterns used in percussion).
  • Its tonal system divides the octave into 22 segments called shrutis, not all equal but each roughly equal to a quarter of a whole tone of Western music.
  • It is broadly divided into two main stream, one is the Carnatic music which belonging to the South Indian traditions and another is the North Indian tradition known as Hindustani music.

Carnatic music

  • It is a system of music commonly associated with the southern part of the Indian subcontinent, with its area roughly confined to five modern states of India: Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.
  • The main emphasis in Carnatic music is on vocal music; most compositions are written to be sung, and even when played on instruments, they are meant to be performed in gayaki (singing) style.
  • It is usually performed by a small ensemble of musicians, consisting of a principal performer (usually a vocalist), a melodic accompaniment (usually a violin), a rhythm accompaniment (usually a mridangam), and a tambura, which acts as a drone throughout the performance.
  • The 8 basic notes are, in ascending tonal order are Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa.

Hindustani music

  • It is the North Indian style of Indian classical music.
  • It is a tradition that originated in Vedic ritual chants and has been evolving since the 12th century CE.
  • It’s main instruments are Tabla and sometimes use Sitar and modern guitars.
  • The rhythmic organization is based on rhythmic patterns called tala.
  • The melodic foundations are called ragas. One possible classification of ragas is into “melodic modes” or “parent scales”, known as thaats, under which most ragas can be classified based on the notes they use.
  • Thaats may consist of up to seven scale degrees, or swara.
  • Hindustani musicians name these pitches using a system called Sargam.
  • The 8 basic notes are, in ascending tonal order are Sa (Shadja), Re (Rishabh), Ga (Gandhar), Ma (Madhyam), Pa (Pancham), Dha (Dhaivat), Ni (Nishad), Sa (Shadja)
  • The major vocal forms or styles associated with Hindustani classical music are dhrupad, khyal, and tarana. Other forms include dhamar, trivat, chaiti, kajari, tappa, tap-khyal, ashtapadis, thumri, dadra, ghazal and bhajan; these are folk or semi-classical or light classical styles, as they often do not adhere to the rigorous rules of classical music.


It is an old style of singing, traditionally performed by male singers. It is performed with a tambura and a pakhawaj as instrumental accompaniments.


It is a Hindustani form of vocal music based on Dhrupad. Literally meaning “thought” or “imagination”.


It is a Hindustani classical vocal music in which certain words and syllables (e.g. “odani”, “todani”, “tadeem” and “yalali”) based on Persian and Arabic phonemes are rendered at a medium (madhya) or fast (drut) pace (laya).


It originated from the folk songs of the camel riders of Punjab and was developed as a form of classical music. Tappas were sung mostly by songstresses, known as Baigees, in royal courts.


It is a common genre of semi-classical Indian music. It begun in Uttar Pradesh with the court of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah (of nawab of Oudh). There are three types of thumri: poorab ang, Lucknavi and Punjabi thumri. The text is romantic or devotional in nature, and usually revolves around a girl’s love for Krishna.


It is a light classical vocal form in Hindustani classical music, mostly performed in Agra and in Bundelkhand region. It consists of six beats in two equal divisions of three.


It is a form of Sufi devotional music. Its root can be traced back to 8th century Persia (Iran and Afghanistan). Major languages used in qawwali are Urdu and Punjabi.


It is a poetic form consisting of rhyming couplets and a refrain, with each line sharing the same meter. The ghazal spread into South Asia in the 12th century due to the influence of Sufi mystics and the courts of the new Islamic Sultanate.


It is a genre of semi-classical singing, popular in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. It is a form of seasonal songs.


It is any type of Hindu devotional song. It has no fixed form: it may be as simple as a mantra or kirtan or as sophisticated as the dhrupad or kriti with music based on classical ragas and talas. Bhajans by Kabir, Mirabai, Surdas, Tulsidas and a few others are considered to be classic.


It is call-and-response chanting performed in India’s bhakti devotional traditions. It is sometimes accompanied by story-telling and acting. Texts typically cover religious, mythological or social subjects. Kirtana as a form of worship was popularized by the 15th–16th-century Bengal mystic Chaitanya, who continually strove for more direct emotional experience of God.


The word Gharana means “family”. In relation to music, Gharana refers to a family of musicians, a school of music or a musical lineage connected with the name of a particular person or place. The characteristic feature of a Gharana is its special style of presentation. The concept of a Guru – Shishya leads to the development of Gharanas.




AgraGhagghe KhudabakshFaiyyaz Khan, Latafat Hussein Khan and Dinkar Kakini.
BenarasPt Gopal MishraRajan Mishra, Sajan Mishra, Girija Devi
Bhendi BazaarChhajju Khan,Nazeer Khan, Khadim Hussain KhanUstad Aman Ali Khan, Shashikala Koratkar and Anjanibai Malpekar.
DelhiQawwaliyasChand Khan, Nasir Ahmed Khan, Usman Khan, Iqbal Ahmed Khan and Krishna Bisht.
GwaliorNathan Pir Baksh, Nathu KhanBal Krishna BaIchal Karanjikar, Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, Pandit Omkarnath Thakur, Veena Sahasrabuddhe and Malini Rajurkar
IndoreAmir KhanPandit Amarnath, Gokulotsavji Maharaj, Kankana Banerjee and others.
Jaipur-AtrauliAlladiya KhanAlladiya Khan, Mallikarjun Mansur, Kesarbhai Kerkar, Kishori Amonkar, Shruti Sadolikar, Padma Talwalkar and Ashwini Bhide Deshpande.
KiranaNayak GopalHirabhai Barodekar, Begum Akhtar, Bhimsen Joshi, Gangubai Hangal and Prabha Atre.
MewatiGhagge Nazir KhanPandit Jasraj, Moti Ram, Mani Ram, Sanjeev Abhyankar
PatialaBade Fateh Ali Khan, Ali Baksh KhanBade Ghulam Ali Khan, Ajoy Chakravarti, Raza Ali Khan, Beghum Akhtar, Nirmala Deni, Naina Devi, Parveen Sultana and others.
Rampur-SahaswanInayat Hussain KhanGhulam Mustafa Khan, Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan, Ustad Rashid Khan, Sulochana and Brihaspati.
Sham ChaurasiaMiyan Chand Khan, Miyan Suraj KhanSalamat Ali, Nazakat Ali Khan and others.