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Jitendra C.
21/11/2016 1 0



Music is sound (and silence). While dance is practically exclusively movement of body parts, music can be created by body parts (mouth, hands, feet, etc.) as well as musical instruments (tabla, harmonium, guitar, etc.).


In India, the origin of music, indeed sound itself is traced back to the origin of the universe. According to Hindu mythology, the first ever sound is the Naadbrahma (Brhma as Sound), which pervades the entire universe. It is the purest sound in the universe and is believed to be unstruck. Another myth associates the origin of sound (and dance) with the Tandava of Shiva and Onkar. It is said that sage Narada then introduced the art of music to the earth from heaven. Like dance, origin of the music in India was in devotional songs and was restricted to religious and ritualistic purposes and was mainly used in temples only. This then developed in association with folk music and other musical forms of India and gradually derived its own musical characteristics.


The history of music in India can be traced back to the Vedic times. The concept of Naadbrahma was prevalent in the Vedic ages. All organised music traces its origins back to the Sam Veda which contains the earliest known form of organised music. The earliest raga owes its origin to the Sam Ved. During the late Vedic Period, music prevailed in the form called Samgana, which was purely a chanting of the verses in musical patterns. After that music changed its course a little bit. The epics were narrated in musical tones called `Jatigan.` Between the second to the seventh century AD, a form of music called `Prabandh Sangeet`, written in  Sanskrit became very popular. This form gave rise to a simpler form called Dhruvapad, which used Hindi as the medium.

The first reference to music was made by Panini in 500 BC and the first reference to musical theory is found in `Rikpratisakhya` in 400 BC. Bharata’s Natyashastra (4th century AD), contains several chapters on music, which was probably the first clear written work on music that has divided music into octaves and twenty-two keys. The next important work on music is `Dathilan` that also mentions the existence of twenty-two srutis per octave. According to ancient notion, only these twenty-two srutis can be made by the human beings. Two other important works written during this period were `Brihaddesi` written by Matanga in 9th century AD, which attempts to define Raga and `Sangeeta Makaranda; written by Narada in 11th century AD, which enumerates ninety-three Raagas and classifies them into masculine and feminine species.


In the medieval period, the nature of Indian music underwent a change due to the impact of the Muslim influence. At this time, Indian music slowly started branching off into the two distinct forms of Hindustani and Carnatic music. These two traditions of music started to diverge only around 14th century AD. The Persian influence brought a substantial change in the Northern style of Indian music. In the fifteenth century AD, the devotional Dhruvapad transformed into the Dhrupad or classical form of singing. The Khayal developed as a new form of singing in the eighteenth century AD. Carnatic classical or kriti is mainly based on the Saahitya or lyric oriented, while Hindustani music emphasizes on the musical structure. Hindustani music adopted a scale of Shudha Swara Saptaka or Octave of natural notes while Carnatic music retains the style of traditional octave. Both Hindustani and Carnatic music express great assimilative power, also absorbing folk tunes and regional characteristics as well as elevating many of these tunes to the status of ragas. Thus, these two systems of music have mutually influenced each other.


With the advent of the British in India, the court arts underwent a decline. Since most of the nawabs and noblemen lost their wealth and did not have the rewards to lavish on performers, most of the musicians had to move over to other occupations. A few gharanas did however manage to survive and continued. However, on the whole, Indian music took a backseat and interest and resources to sustain this art started to fade. A parallel development that gradually started forming at this time was that newer forms of media were now emerging.. Thus, with the advent of television, radio etc western influences started creeping into Indian music. There was the spread of popular or `pop` music and this trend increased with the spread of cinema. Classical music too started being exported out of the country in the 60`s, and an experiment of combining western music with the Indian Classical form also took place. This gave rise to what is popularly referred to as fusion music. In the 70`s and 80`s disco and pop music entered the Indian musical scene. The 90`s further popularised the pop trend among the Indian audiences. With the further spread of information technology and an increasingly global world, we see a host of musical forms existing in contemporary India—rock, Hip-hop, jazz etc. Apart from these western forms of music, traditional forms of Indian music, such as Khayal, Ghazal, Geet, Thumri, Qawwali etc. also find place in the contemporary music. Bhajans and Kirtans, which form a separate stream of religious songs, are also quite widely sung across the country. During all this historical development of music in India, Folk Music continued to keep its existence side by side classical music.



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