India as a country is widely famous for its rich cultures, and traditions. Everything about India is custom opulent. From our attires to the cuisines, the languages to the holidays, and from our taste buds to our music. Indian Classical music is one of the oldest forms of art. It originated from the Vedic Literature of Hinduism and the ancient Natyashastra. Indian Classical Music can be divided into its two base elements that are Raga and Tala. The raga mainly forms the musical structure of the song while the tala measures the time. Even though the range of Indian Classical Music is so vast and it is an ancient art, it can be separated into two main parts geographically – The North Indian part which is called the Hindustani Music, and the South Indian Classical Music, which is termed as the Carnatic Music.
Hindustani Classical music is all about improvisation and playing and exploring all aspects of the raga and Carnatic Classical Music is all about tala or composition-based. But the ancient Natya Shastra text is at the root of Indian Classical Music in general. It is so diverse and authentic that with time it has adapted itself to various regional styles, dialects, and languages, take for example Bengali Classical Music. Before the ancient Delhi Sultanate, there wasn’t much difference between Hindustani Classical Music and Carnatic Classical Music. But after the Sultanate empire, North India was differentiated from South India and the traditions took different forms, adapting themself to their customs and folklores and vibes. That’s how Carnatic and Hindustani Classical Music was originated.
The songs composed under Indian Classical Music are heavily based on our Customs, religious traditions, and holidays and hence the instruments used in the production of this music are kept pure and true to their name, by using traditional Indian instruments. Instruments like Table, Harmonium, Sitar, Sarod. The sounds produced by these Classical Instruments are some of the crispest sounds you’ll ever hear.
Some of the famous Indian Classical Musicians are Ustaad Bismillah Khan – the famous Shehnai players who grasped the reign of the traditional Shehnai music like no other and no one else since then has been able to replace or match those standards. Another extremely popular artist was Pandit Ravi Shankar, globally known for his iconic contribution to Indian Classical Music, he was widely famous for his Sitar skills. Hariprasad Chaurasia is another great example of Indian Classical Musicians, he is known as the legendary flutist. This one is quite a heartbreaking one; the famous singer Jagjit Singh who sang the song “Chitthi Na Koi Sandesh” was also extensively trained in Indian Classical Music. Female artists like Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Gauhar Jaan, are amongst some of the most legendary Indian Classical Musicians of our country.
An interesting fact about Indian Classical Music is that it follows the “Gharana Culture”. According to the Gharana Culture, one family practices one raga or instrument for generations. A lot of the most famous Indian Classical Music Artists belonged to the Gharana Culture.
Hindustani Classical Music
As mentioned, the Indian Classical Music branches into the North Indian Classical Music or widely known as the Hindustani Classical Music or Shashtriya Sangeet. Originated in the 12th century, it has a 12-note scale that focuses on the improvisation and exploration of ragas.
There are three main octaves in this music form, mainly, low, medium, and high, and each octave resonates with a body part. Like a low octave in the heart, medium octave in the throat, and high octave in the head. Even though Hindustani music solely focuses on the vocals, in recent years and especially outside India and Asia, Instrumental Hindustani Classical Music is extremely popular. Partly because of the language barrier and partly because of the faster and refreshingly different instrumental sounds.
Examples of such classical compositions are innumerable such as “Bansiya Bajawat” based on Raag Yaman, “Jaago Mohan Pyaare” based on Raag Bhairav, “Jaao Shyam Tum Humse Na Bolo” based on Raag Bhairvi.
Carnatic Classical Music
The other branch of Indian Classical Music is Carnatic Music or Karnataka Sangitam. The difference between Hindustani Classical Music and Carnatic Classical Music comes with the geography of the states. Carnatic music is based around the South Indian Languages, widely famous in states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala.
Another major difference is that Carnatic Music focuses more on the vocals. All the compositions, even the instrumental ones are supposed to be sung. The rules of Carnatic Classical Music are also more stringent than that of Hindustani Classical Music.
One of the best aspects of India is the way every culture and customs are celebrated here. Carnatic Classical Music is also widely celebrated throughout Southern India. The city of Chennai holds a six-week-long music season in which Carnatic Music is widely appreciated. The Ragas may be termed or named differently in Carnatic Classical Music than Hindustani Classical Music but their tone remains the same.