Tuesday March 19, 2019



"MUSIC means  Morality, Universality, Spirituality, Individuality, Creativity" - Rajhesh Vaidhya


Music is one of the several creative ways of expressing devotion and emotion. Ancient texts confirm it was born with civilisation and is understood as both spiritual and entertaining. With accounts from 2500 BC, this is the Indian Classical artform believed to be sung by Gods. It is seen in many Sanskrit traditions such as the depiction of Mother Saraswati playing the Veena, Narad Muni’s gift to be the personality of Divine Music according to Valmiki’s Ramayana, the creation of Raga Malkauns by Lord Shiva and Mother Parvati etc.

Music or Sangeet is based on vocal music, instrumentals and Nrtya or dance. The brilliance of Indian Classical Music is the fact that it is melody- based and emphasises the possibilities and beauty of each musical note, where as Western Classical is harmony based.


Hindustani Classical Music and its instrumental music: http://www.artindia.net/hindustani.html

Carnatic Music and its instrumental music: http://www.artindia.net/carnatic.html


The following are some popular Classical, Semi classical, folk, light music and devotional compositional styles:



Dhrupad is the oldest surviving form of Indian Classical music and traces its origin to the chanting of Vedic hymns and mantras. Though a highly developed classical art with a complex and elaborate grammar and aesthetics, it is also primarily a form of worship, in which offerings are made to the divine through sound or nāda.


Kheyal or Khyal

The word "kheyal" in Urdu means "idea" or "imagination". This term is indicative of its highly improvisational nature. It is generally an abstract and complete presentation of the rag; it is probably the most improvised of the Indian styles.

YouTube reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1TZwghd0ao


Thumri is a common style of light classical music. The text is romantic or devotional in nature. This style is characterized by a greater flexibility with the rag.

YouTube reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8urYZ1MehE


Ghazal is a common Indian and Pakistani form of poetic recitation.

YouTube reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxoQsU8K1r4


Bhajan is perhaps one of the most popular compositional style today. It is a form of description and praise of God in the Hindu religion.

YouTube reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euuyogKZKCs


This is the spiritual and artistic traditional form of Islamic song found in India and Pakistan. The word qawwali is derived from the Arabic word Qaol which means "axiom" or "dictum". A Qawwal is one who sings qawwali, or the dictums of the prophets and praises of God.

YouTube reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agyYyr11xgI&feature=related


Kirtan or Dhun is related to the bhajan. The major difference is that bhajan is usually performed by a soloist, while kirtan and dhun usually involve the audience in a "call-and-responce" for congregational worship.

YouTube reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTldipzLIx4&feature=related


Bhangra was originally a Punjabi folk dance which has expanded in several ways. As far as dance is concerned, the term bhangra has expanded to include the style of music used to accompany bhangra dance.

YouTube reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bAN7Ts0xBo

Filmi or Filmi Sangeet

Indian film song may be traced to the advent of India's first sound motion picture in 1931. This film was entitled "Alam Ara" and heralded in a new era in Indian motion pictures. At the same time, it sowed the seeds for a new musical genre which has now taken the World by storm as Bollywood music.

YouTube reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ie4OF6gIjhw


Born in North India, this Boujpuri form of music is very popular around Basant or season of Spring. It is played in celebration of Holi or Phagwa. Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and other Caribbean countries have been able to preserve it.

YouTube reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQy-2VV29PU


Originally from Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana, Chutney music is a fusion of Boujpuri music and Caribbean music as an expression of traditional activities; hence the name Chutney. It is arranged of Hindi and English lyrics.

YouTube reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HItS-1JKik&feature=related

Indo- Caribbean Classical Music

Indo Caribbean Classical music is another style of local music with Bhoujpori tradition found in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Surinam and now developing in other Caribbean countries. In Guyana it is known as Tan Singing and in Surinam it carries the title Bhaitak Gana. Compositional styles in Indo Caribbean music are Thumris, Dhrupad etc but it differs from those sang in India.

YouTube reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItBvjPz9p74&feature=related


Devised by Trinidad’s Ravindranath Maharaj (Ravi Ji), Pichakaree is a form of music performed for Holi Clebrations. It gets its name from the pichakaree gun, the device used to squirt abeer on participants. Most of the language used in Pichakaree singing is usually performed in the English of T&T’s local dialect and is sprinkled with Hindi and Bhoujpuri words. This appeals to the contemporary generation and describes social issues globally and locally and also folk traditions.

Tassa; drumming from India to the Caribbean

The Tassa drumming tradition was brought to Trinidad by indentured laborers from India between 1845 and 1917. The ensembles use special instruments, including tassa drums, to produce their distinctive percussive music. The drums are hung from the players’ necks with strong cloth. Tassa is played for weddings, parties and for vigor at political campaigns in both India and Caribbean countries.

YouTube reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqU1lhF2eKs



1. For information on the different compositional styles of India, visit:


2. East Indian Music in the West Indies by Peter Manuel (Google Books):


3. Information on Indian Classical Music on Tarang:


4. ITC Sangeet Research Academy:


5. Shadja Madhyam:


Learn Online!

Shankar Mahadevan Academy: http://www.shankarmahadevanacademy.com/

E- Shishya: http://esishya.com/public/index.html

Riyaz Sudio: http://www.riyazstudio.com/

Anindo Chatterjee School of Tabla (Online): http://www.schooloftabla.com/