Music Theory/Indian

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Introduction[edit]

The term 'Indian music' spans a multitude of forms and styles, from tribal and folk traditions to intellectual classical structures and electronic-enhanced modern dance tracks. Of course, the distinctions between the forms are often slippery. It is not uncommon, for example, for 'filmi' composers to employ folk, religious, regional or classical elements into their songs to enhance the mood and relevance to the story. Likewise, classical music has absorbed and transformed folk elements while the rural traditions themselves have always been influenced by wider regional and international musics. As with literature, dance and the visual arts, Indian music is a complex interweaving of influences and ideas.

Periods and Styles[edit]

Ancient[edit]

Literary evidence points to the existence of codified musical traditions in early times. Classical Tamil poetry from South India was composed by itinerant and court-settled musicians and accompanied by instruments such as the harp, barrel-drum and flute. Set scales, known as pans, provided a framework for the singers and musicians. The pans were tuned to the strings of the harp. The 7th century epic Silappadikkaram features music and dance from this formal tradition as well as current folk and tribal styles.

While much of the ancient Tamil tradition has been lost, there is speculation that some of the pans referred to in the literature made their way into the Carnatic tradition. In addition, the specialist temple singers of the Meenakshi temple in Madurai still include some songs set to pans (rather than Ragams) in their repetoire.

Classical[edit]

The Classical tradition of Indian music can be divided into two major movements, Hindustani and Carnatic. Hindustani classical music is also known as the Northern Indian Classical music, while Carnatic classical music is also known as the Southern Indian Classical music. Hindustani classical music is sung in the Northern part of India while Carnatic classical music is sung in the Southern part of India. Hindustani classical music is supported with instruments like Tabla and Harmonium while Carnatic classical music is supported by Mridunga and Viloin. There isn't difference in the Svaras and the pronunciation of svaras of both the types of classical music but the Svara Re or रे is pronounced as Re in Hindustani classical music and is pronounced as Ri in Carnatic classical music. 'Risabha' (Re) is the long form of the syllables रे and री. For simplicity in pronouncing while singing the syllable, Risabha is pronounced as Re and Ri. This given because the pronouncing of the syllable Re is different in the Hindustani classical music and Carnatic classical music. In Hindustani classical music, the pronouncing of Risabha is done as Re and in Carnatic classical music, the pronouncing of Risabha is done as Ri.

So a Hindustani classical singer will sing the 7 svaras as : Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa.

While a Carnatic classical singer will sing these svaras like : Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa.

The pronunciation of actually each svaras is different in both the types of music but the only svara Re is completely spelled in a different way. Hindustani classical music has Tarana while Carnatic classical music has Tillana. So hence the terms of both the types of classical music are different while their function may be same. And the main point is that the ragas, the names of ragas and the svaras which are there in a particular raga, these all are different. For example of any random raga, Hindustani classical music has raga Sarang while Carnatic classical music has raga Hanumatodi. But there are some ragas which are adopted from one type to another. For example Raga Abhogi was a Carnatic classical raga which was then adopted by Hindustani classical music, or Raga Hansdwani which was also a Carnatic classical raga which was then adopted by Hindustani classical music.

Ragas in both the types of Classical music (A comparison) - The List[edit]

Some Carnatic classical ragas are,

  • Amarasindhu
  • AshaDakannaDa
  • Bhāvya
  • BhuvanamanOhari
  • DEshalam
  • DEshikakhamās
  • DEshikashenjuruTTi
  • DEshya keeravāNi
  • Gangadhārini
  • Harihamsa
  • HarikalyāNi
  • Harisaraswathi
  • Hindustāni bhairavi - uses all 12 notes
  • Hindustāni gāndhāri
  • Jālini
  • KannaDa kāmbhOji
  • KarnāTaka nāTTai
  • karnashravya
  • Khande
  • KonDamalahari
  • Lāvani
  • MāNikya
  • Madhumādhavi
  • Maitrabhāvini
  • ManOllāsini
  • Mishra kamāj
  • Mishra mānD
  • Mishratilang - S G3 M1 P N3 S - S N3 P M1 G3 R2 S
  • Mukundabhairavam
  • MukundamaNirangu
  • Mukundananthini
  • Mukundashree
  • Mukundavasantha
  • Mukundavasantini
  • Navakānthi
  • Pārvathavardhini
  • Padmashree
  • Panchabhootha
  • Panchagatha
  • Poornavasantha
  • Rāgadhwani
  • Ragini raga
  • Rājahamsini
  • Rājalahari (Scale introduced by Maestro Ilaiyaraaja)
  • Rājkowns
  • RāyagowLa
  • Rojuvana
  • RudrabharaNa
  • SampoorNam
  • Sanga
  • Sarvānanda
  • Sarvashakti
  • Savitā
  • Shiva kalyāņam
  • Hamsadhwani
  • Shree chintāmaNi
  • Shreekānthimathi
  • Shubhakalyāņi
  • Siddhēśvara
  • Suddha chintāmaNi
  • Vasavanthi
  • Ānandharoopa
  • Ārabi
  • Bangāla
  • Behāg
  • Behāg Deshikam
  • Bilahari
  • Buddhamanohari
  • Buddharanjani
  • Chāyā
  • Chāyashankarābharanam
  • Devagāndhāri
  • Dharmalakhi
  • Dhurvanki
  • Gajagowri
  • Garudadhvani
  • Gowdamalhār
  • Hamsavinodhini
  • Hemant
  • Hindustāni Behāg
  • Jana Ranjani
  • Julavu
  • Kamaripriyā
  • Kannada
  • Kadanakuthoohalam
  • Kedaram




 There are some ragas which are adopted from one type to another. For example Raga Abhogi was a Carnatic classical raga which was then adopted by Hindustani classical music, or Raga Hansdwani which was also a Carnatic classical raga which was then adopted by Hindustani classical music.


Some Hindustani classical ragas are,

  • Kedar (raga)
  • Gauri (raga)
  • Jog (raga)
  • Hameer
  • Brindabani Sarang
  • Jaijaivanti (Kafi and Desh aang)
  • Megh (raga)
  • Sohni
  • Hindol
  • Madhukali
  • Malhar
  • Malkauns
  • Bilaval
  • Bihag
  • Abhogi
  • Abhogi Kanada
  • Adana (raga)
  • Asavari (Shuddh Rishabh Asavari)
  • Ahir Bhairav
  • Malgunji
  • Chandrakauns
  • Chhayanat (raga)
  • Bahar (raga)
  • Bageshri/Bageshree
  • Basant (raga)
  • Basant Bahar (raga)
  • Bhairav (raga)
  • Bhimpalasi
  • Bhinna Shadja
  • Bhairavi
  • Bhoopali
  • Bhoopal Todi
  • Bibhas (Marwa aang, Purvi aang, Bhairav aang, Deshkar aang)
  • Bihag
  • Bilaskhani Todi
  • Durga (raga)
  • Dhani (raga)
  • Desh (raga)
  • Deepak (Bilaval (thaat))
  • Darbari
  • Darbari Kanada
  • Gaud Malhar
  • Gaud Sarang
  • Gorakh Kalyan
  • Suhi (raga)
  • Hamsadhvani
  • Sorath (raga)
  • Sohani
  • Shree (raga)
  • Rageshree (raga)
  • Shivaranjani
  • Saraswati
  • Shankara (raga)
  • Shahana
  • Sarpada
  • Sarang (raga)
  • Sindhu Bhairavi (raga)
  • Sindhura
  • Tilak kamod
  • Tilang
  • Todi
  • Vibhas
  • Yaman (raga)
  • Zeelaf (raga)
  • Puriya Dhanashree
  • Patdeep
  • Piloo
  • Nat Bhairav
  • Multani (raga)
  • Marwa (raga)
  • Miyan ki Todi
  • Miyan ki Malhar
  • Kafi
  • Kalavati
  • Khamaj
  • Kirwani
  • Komal Rishabh Asavari
  • Jaunpuri (raga)
  • Jhinjhoti

Svaras in the Indian classical music[edit]

There are in total 7 svaras in both the types of classical music. Namely,