Saturday, January 9, 8100

Development of Hindustani Music (c. 1100)

Hindustani Music is North Indian style of Indian classical music. It is a tradition that has been evolving from the 12th century AD, in what is now northern India and Pakistan, and also Bangladesh, Nepal and Afghanistan, and is today, one of the two main parts of Indian classical music, with the other one being the Carnatic music, which represents the music of South India.

It is traditional for performers who have reached a distinguished level of achievement, to be awarded titles of respect; Hindus are usually referred to as Pandit and Muslims as Ustad. An interesting aspect of Hindustani music going back to sufi times, is the tradition of religious neutrality: Muslim ustads singing Hindu bhajans, or vice versa.

Around the 12th century, Hindustani classical music diverged from the principle which eventually came to be identified as Carnatic classical music. The central notions in both these systems is that of a melodic mode or raga, sung to a rhythmic cycle or tala. The tradition dates back to the ancient Samaveda, (lit. sāma=ritual chant), which deals with the norms for chanting of srutis or hymns such as the Rig Veda. These principles were refined in the Natyashastra by Bharata (2nd-3d c. CE) and the Dattilam (probably 3d-4th c. AD)

In medieval times, many of the melodic systems were fused with ideas from Persian music, particularly through the influence of sufi composers like Amir Khusro, and later in the Moghul courts. Noted composers such as Tansen flourished, along with religious groups like the Vaishnavites. After the 16th century, the singing styles diversified into different gharanas patronized in different princely courts. Around 1900, Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande consolidated the musical structures of Hindustani Classical music into a number of thaats. In the 20th century, Hindustani classical music has become popular across the world through the influence of artistes like Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan and many others.

Indian classical music has 7 basic notes Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni, with five interspersed half-notes, resulting in a 12-note scale. Unlike the 12-note scale in Western music, the base frequency of the scale is not fixed, and intertonal gaps (temper) may also vary; however with the gradual replacement of the sarangi by the harmonium, an equal tempered scale is increasingly used. The performance is set to a melodic pattern called a raga (also spelled as raag) characterized in part by specific ascent (Arohana) and descent (Avarohana) sequences, which may not be identical. Other characteristics include King (Vadi) and Queen (Samavadi) notes and a unique note phrase (Pakad). In addition each raga has its natural register (Ambit) and glissando (Meend) rules, as well as features specific to different styles and compositions within the raga structure. Performances are usually marked by considerable improvisation within these norms.

Narada's Sangita Makarandha treatise c 1100 is the earliest text where rules similar to the current Hindustani classical music can be found. Narada actually names and classifies the system in its earlier form before the advent of changes as a result of Persian influences. Jayadeva's Gita Govinda from the 12th century was perhaps the earliest musical composition presently known sung in the classical tradition called Ashtapadi music.

In the 13th century, Sharngadeva composed the Sangita Ratnakara, which has names such as the turushka todi (Turkish todi), revealing an influx of ideas from the Islamic influx. This text is the last to be mentioned by both the Carnatic and the Hindustani traditions, and is often thought to date the divergence between the two.

The advent of Islamic rule under the Delhi Sultanate and later the Mughal Empire over northern India caused considerable cultural interchange. Increasingly, musicians received patronage in the courts of the new rulers, who in their turn, started taking increasing interest in local music forms. The initial generations may have been rooted in a cultural traditions outside India, gradually, they adopted many aspects from their kingdoms which retained the traditional Hindu culture. This helped spur the fusion of Hindu and Muslim ideas to bring forth new forms of musical synthesis like qawwali and khayal.

The most influential musician from the Delhi Sultanate period was Amir Khusrau (1253-1325), sometimes called the father of Hindustani classical music. A prolific composer in Persian, Turkish, Arabic, as well as Braj Bhasha, he is credited with systematizing many aspects of Hindustani music, and also introducing the ragas Zeelaf and Sarparda. He created the genre of the qawwali, which fuses Persian melody and beat on a dhrupad like structure. A number of instruments (such as the sitar) were also introduced in his time.

Amir Khusrau is sometimes credited with the origins of the khayal form, but the record of his compositions do not appear to support this. It is possible that the word khayal was a corruption of qawwali, but it is more likely that it has a separate etymology (the Arabic word khyal means mood or capriciousness). The compositions by the court musician Niyamat Khan (Sadarang) in the court of Muhammad Shah 'Rangiley' bear a closer affinity to the modern khyal, and suggests that 'Sadarang' may have been the father of modern day 'Khayal'.
Much of the musical forms innovated by these pioneers merged with the Hindu tradition, composed in the popular language of the people (as opposed to Sanskrit) in the work of composers like Kabir or Nanak. This can be seen as part of a larger Bhakti tradition, (strongly related to the Vaishnavite movement) which remained influential across several centuries; notable figures include Jayadeva (11th century), Vidyapati (1375 AD), Chandidas (14th-15th century), and Meerabai (1555-1603 AD).

As the Mughal Empire came into closer contact with Hindus, especially under Jalal ud-Din Akbar, music and dance also flourished. Particularly, the legendary musician Tansen is recognized as having introduced a number of innovations, ragas as well as particular compositions. Legend has it that upon his rendition of a night-time raga in the morning, the entire city fell under a hush and clouds gathered in the sky, or that he could light fires by singing raga Deepak, which is supposed to be composed of notes in high octaves.
At the royal house of Gwalior, Raja Mansingh Tomar (1486-1516 AD) also participated in the shift from Sanskrit to the local idiom (Hindi) as the language for classical songs. He himself penned several volumes of compositions on religious and secular themes, and was also responsible for the major compilation, the Mankutuhal (book of curiosity), which outlined the major forms of music prevalent at the time. In particular, the musical form known as dhrupad saw considerable development in his court and remained a strong point of the Gwalior gharana for many centuries.

After the dissolution of the Mughal empire, the patronage of music continued in smaller princely kingdoms like Lucknow, Patiala, Banaras, giving rise to the diversity of styles that is today known as gharanas. Many musician families obtained large grants of land which made them self sufficient, at least for a few generations (e.g. the Sham Chaurasia gharana). Meanwhile the Bhakti and Sufi traditions continued to develop, and interact with the different gharanas and groups.

The rhythmic organization is based on rhythmic patterns called Taal. The melodic foundations are "melodic modes", or "Parent Scales", known as Thaats, thaats are part of "musical personalities" called Ragas or Raags.

Thaats - and so Ragas - may consist of up to seven scale degrees, or swara. Hindustani musicians name these pitches using a system called Sargam, the equivalent of Western movable do solfege:

Sa = Do

Re = Re

Ga = Mi

Ma = Fa

Pa = Sol

Dha = La

Ni = Ti

Sa = Do

Both systems repeat at the octave. The difference between sargam and some forms of solfege is that re, ga, ma, dha, and ni can refer to either "Pure" (Shuddha) or altered "Flat" (Komal) or "Sharp" (Tivra) versions of their respective scale degrees. As with movable do solfege, the notes are heard relative to an arbitrary tonic that varies from performance to performance, rather than to fixed frequencies, as on a xylophone.

The fine intonational differences between different instances of the same swara are sometimes called śruti. The three primary registers of Indian classical music are Mandra, Madhya and Tara. Since the octave location is not fixed, it is also possible to use provenances in mid-register (such as Madra-Madhya or Madhya-Tara) for certain ragas. A typical rendition of Hindustani raga involves two stages:

Alap: a rhythmically free improvisation on the rules for the raag in order to give life to the raga and shape out its characteristics. The alap can be further divided into the alap, jod and jhala.

Bandish or Gat: a fixed, melodic composition set in a specific raga, performed with rhythmic accompaniment by a tabla or pakhavaj. There are different ways of systematizing the parts of a composition. For example:

Sthaayi: The initial, Rondo phrase or line of a fixed, melodic composition.

Antara: The first body phrase or line of a fixed, melodic composition.

Sanchaari: The third body phrase or line of a fixed, melodic composition, seen more typically in
Dhrupad Bandishes

Aabhog: The fourth and concluding body phrase or line of a fixed, melodic composition, seen more typically in Dhrupad Bandishes.

There are three variations of Bandish, regarding tempo:

Vilambit Bandish: A slow and steady melodic composition, usually in Largo to Adagio speeds.

Madhyalaya Bandish: A medium tempo melodic competition, usually set in Andante to Allegretto speeds.

Drut Bandish: A fast tempo melodic composition, usually set to Allegretto speed, and onwards.

Hindustani classical music is primarily vocal-centric, insofar as the musical forms were designed primarily for vocal performance, and many instruments were designed and evaluated as to how well they emulate the human voice.

The major vocal forms-cum-styles associated with Hindustani classical music are Dhrupad, Khayal, and Thumri. Other forms include Dhamar, Tarana, Trivat, Chaiti, Kajari, Tappa, Tap-Khayal, Ashtapadis, Dadra, Ghazal and Bhajan. Of these, some forms fall within the crossover to folk or Semi-Classical or Classical ('Light' Classical) music, as they often do not adhere to the rigorous rules and regulations of 'pure' Classical Music.

Dhrupad is a yet older style of singing, traditionally performed by male singers. It is performed with a tanpura and a Pakhawaj as instrumental accompaniments. The lyrics, which sometimes were in Sanskrit centuries ago, are presently often sung in Brajbhasha, a medieval form of Hindi that was spoken in the Mathura area. The Rudra Veena, an ancient string instrument, is used in instrumental music in the style of Dhrupad.

Dhrupad was the main form of northern Indian classical music until two centuries ago, but has since then given way to the somewhat less austere, khyal, a more free-form style of singing. Since losing its main patrons among the royalty in Indian princely states, Dhrupad ran the risk of becoming extinct in the first half of the twentieth century. Fortunately, the efforts by a few proponents from the Dagar family have led to its revival and eventual popularization in India and in the West.

Khayal is a form of vocal music in Hindustani music, adopted from medieval Persian music and based on Dhrupad music. Khayal, literally meaning "Thought" in Hindi/Urdu originally from Arabic, Khyal, is special as it is based on improvising and expressing emotion. A Khayal is a 4 to 8 lined lyric set to tune. The lyric is of an emotional account possibly from poetic observation. Khayals are also more popularly depicting emotional significance between two lovers, a situation evoking intense feeling, or situations of ethological significance in Hinduism and Islam.

Th importance of the Khayal's content is for the singer to depict, through music in the set raga, the emotional significance of the Khayal. The singer improvises and finds inspiration within the raga to depict the Khayal.

The origination of Khayal is controversial, yet it is accepted that this style was based on Dhrupad gayaki and influenced by Persian music. Many argue that Amir Khusrau created the style in the late 16th Century. This form was popularized by Mughal Emperor Hussain Shah Sharqi, an art connoisseur, through his court musician, Mohammad Shah.

Although Hindustani music clearly is focused on the vocal performance, instrumental forms have existed since ancient times. In fact, in recent decades, especially outside South Asia, instrumental Hindustani music is more popular than vocal music, perhaps because the lyrics in the latter are not comprehensible due to unfamiliarity with the language.

A number of musical instruments are associated with Hindustani classical music. The veena, a string instrument, was traditionally regarded as the most important, but few play it today in the north (it is the chief string instrument of the Carntic tradition) and it has largely been superseded by its cousins the sitar and the sarod, both of which owe their origin to Persian influences.

India - North - Ravi Shankar (Sitar)

Chatur Lal (Tabla)

Introduction to Indian Music

Maru Bihag (Sitar, Tambura, and Tabla)

Ali Akbar Khan (Sarod) / Chatur Lal


Rag Sindu Bhairavi

Surbahar (Large Sitar)

Sarangi (Violin)

Other plucked/struck string instruments include the surbahar, sursringar, santoor, and various versions of the slide guitar. Among bowed instruments, the sarangi, esraj (or dilruba), and violin are popular. The bansuri (bamboo flute), shehnai, harmonium, and samvadini are important wind instruments. In the percussion ensemble, the tabla and the pakhavaj are the most popular. Various other instruments (including the Bulbul tarang and the piano) have also been used in varying degrees.

[8133 Leonin / 8100 Hindustani Music / 8098 Hildegard]