Hindustani Classical Music

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 27, 2022, 5:01

Hindustani Classical Music is an Indian classical music tradition that has its origins in the Punjab region of Northern India. It originated from the Indian Muslim courts during the 16th and 17th centuries. Persian and Sufi Islamic melodies have highly influenced the music.

Hindustani Classical Music's melodic structure surpasses other genres in both complexity and the richness of content, with every passage imbued with a deep spiritual meaning. This article will encompass several topics regarding Hindustani Classical Music, its emergence, significant historical events that have impacted it, how it differs from other classical traditions, and what we can expect in the near future.

The emergence of Hindustani Classical Music

The roots of the Hindustani Classical Music genre can be traced back to the Muslim courts of Medieval India, which existed about a thousand years ago, to the court of the fourteenth century Emperor Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. During this time period, music as a standardized form developed as performers began writing systematic treatises concerning the creation of music.

Until then, there had been no definite system in place for composing and performing music. Rather, each performer had their own set of improvisational techniques that worked differently depending on the state or region they were in.

Significant Historical Events - Impact on Hindustani Classical Music

The first developments in Indian classical music can be traced back to the ancient period between the 7th and 12th centuries. During this period, musical development was stimulated by royal courts and flourishing cities, which created the need for music that could be used as a part of important religious ceremonies as well as social gatherings.

The ancient era is when most of the theoretical aspects of Indian classical music were developed. Important theoretical works were written during this time, establishing standards and rules for composing music. These theoretical works also detailed how to use specific pitches in order to generate desired effects on listeners, such as arousing sadness or happiness.

Hindustani Classical Music vs. Classical Traditions

Most classical traditions are based on a set of fixed notes. This system is mainly used to generate harmonic and melodic patterns that resemble a traditional form of music. However, Hindustani Classical Music's melodic system is very different from other contemporary Indian styles.

Hindustani's melodic system involves bass lines directly following specific pitches on the staff; these bass lines can be played either with an empty hand or through plucked alternate fingers. Melodic phrases are repeated over and over again.

The dynamic aspect of Hindustani Classical Music also sets it apart from other traditions. This genre uses a combination of slow and fast rhythms, such as the tala system that was developed by Indian musician Pingala. The tala system is like a metronome, which sets a steady beat for performers to use as a base for their music.

Another important dynamic aspect of Hindustani Classical Music is the harkats (or "liveries"), which are melodic patterns that are used to reflect different moods and states of mind.

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Hindustani Classical Music - Current Scenario

While the genre has been around since medieval times, it hasn't always been respected and viewed on par with genres such as pop or rock. It has been overshadowed by other music types, such as Bollywood music and filmi dangdari.

There are, however, a few instances where it has gained attention.

In 1991, Gubbi Veerabhadram "V"yerabhadra (1951-), a Hindustani Classical Music performer, made his debut with an album titled Sanmarga Nodalu (The Sound of Sanmarga). This album was considered revolutionary for its innovation of a new melodic concept which was based on the Hindu religious text The Rig Veda.

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In 2004, The Times of India reported that Hindustani Classical Music is gaining popularity in the United Kingdom, especially among Indian immigrants.

Hindustani Classical Music is one of the oldest forms of music in the world and it has had a significant impact on several other musical traditions. The genre has been shaped by historical events, such as the spread of Islam and its influence on Indian artists. It is a difficult genre to learn because it requires performers to memorize hundreds of different ragas (or melodic patterns) that can each last up to half an hour.

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FAQs on Hindustani Classical Music

Q1. How has Indian classical music influenced other genres?

Hindustani Classical Music has had an impact on many other genres, such as bluegrass, jazz, and psychedelic rock. These genres were influenced by the rhythmic structure of Indian music.

Q2. What is the history behind Hindustani Classical Music?

Hindustani Classical Music's roots have been traced back to medieval India. Its beginnings can be traced to the courts of Emperor Bahadur Shah of Gujarat, during which time period it gained popularity as a standardized form and gained significant attention in India and abroad.

Q3. What is the difference between Hindustani Classical Music and other Indian classical genres?

In Hindustani Classical Music, the melodic system consists of bass lines that follow a specific pitch on the staff instead of fixed notes; in addition, performers use a combination of slow and fast rhythms. They also create musical phrases that repeat over and over again. This is unlike most other Indian classical music styles, which focus mostly on rhythm.

Q4. Who are some notable performers of Hindustani Classical Music?

Some of the most famous Hindustani musicians include Mysore Vasudevachar, Allauddin Khan, and Ravi Shankar. Other notable musicians include Bismillah Khan, Ali Akbar Khan, and Gopal Krishan.

Q5. How is Hindustani Classical Music different from other Indian classical genres?

Hindustani Classical Music is different from other Indian Classical genres because it does not have a set of fixed notes. Rather than a single scale, this genre focuses on using bass tones in order to generate rhythm and harmony. In addition to this, the rhythm is determined by a cycle called a "tala."