Just as there is no such language as Indian, but instead many hundreds of languages, with over a dozen considered major, so there is no single entity as Indian music. The range of musical styles and traditions in the subcontinent of South Asia, which comprises modern India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, is in proportion to the vastness of the geographical area and the density of population. This is most obviously the cast with folk and tribal music. Given that India is predominantly rural, it could be claimed that such categories of music are those of the majority.
The music of India is one of the oldest unspoken musical traditions in the world. The basis of Indian music is “sangeet.” Sangeet is combinations of two are forms: vocal music, instrumental music (Indian music). Indian music is based on the seven letters Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni. These seven letters are mathematically improvised to make thousands of tunes named Rages and cyclic rhythmic patterns known as Tales.
The vocal tradition is especially strong in Indian music. It is understood that the song is probably the most ancient form of music. Vocal music occupies a considerable part of Natya Shastra (Indian music). The Same Veda is the oldest musical text in India. Most of the classical songs of north India are devotional in nature, but there are few genres, which are especially oriented toward religion. Most notable is the bhajan, dhun or kirtan for Hindus, the qawali for Muslims. And the shabed for Sikhs (Indian music). Not all the music is serious for, there are also many popular genres. The gazal is one style, which is known for it rich poetic, and romantic content. The Hindi geet which is basically just a song and undoubtedly the most popular is the film song (Indian music).
Over the years they have become formalized into four major instrumental styles known as: alap, jor, gat and jhala (India, dance and music). The alap is a slow rhythm less elaboration upon the rag. The jor is a section that has rhythm but no developed rhythmic cycle (i, e, Tal). The gat is the fully developed piece, while the jhala is a fat rhythmic interplay between the drone strings and the main playing strings (Indian music).
The rag is the most important concept that any student of Indian music should understand. The Hindi/Urdu word “rag” is derived from the Sanskrit “raga” which means “color or passion” (Indian music). It is linked to the Sanskrit word “ranj” which means, “to color” (Indian music).
There is also the jati. Jati is the number of notes used in the rag. There must also be the ascending and descending structure. This is called arohana/avarohana. Another characteristic is that the various notes do not have the same level of significance. Some are important and others less so. The important notes are called vadi and Sama vadi (Indian music). There are often characteristic movements to the rag. This is called either pakad (Indian music).
The Indian rhythem is known as Tal. Tal means “clap”. The table (Indian drum instrument) has replaced the clap in the performance, but the term still reflects the origin. The basic concepts of tal are tali, khali, vibhag, matra, bol, theka, lay, sam, and avartan.
There are many instruments in India. There is a traditional system for the classification of instruments. This system is based upon; non-membranous percussion (ghan), membranous percussion (avandhah), wind blow (sushir), plucked string (tat), blowed string (vitat) (Indian music). Some of the most famous Indian instruments are sitar and table. Sitar is perhaps the most well known of the Indian instruments. Artists such as Ravi Shankar have popularized this instrument around the world. Sitar is a long necked instrument with an interesting construction. Undoubtedly the most striking characteristic of the table is the large black spot on each of the playing surfaces. These black spots are a mixture of gum, soot and iron filings. Their function is to create the bell-like timbre that is characteristic of the instrument.