Musician and intellectual {Art & Culture}

Why in news?

Recently, a revered practitioner and guru of Indian classical music said that all such music is spiritual or enmeshed in spirituality.

Indian classical musicians are simultaneously thinkers, philosophers, rule-benders, and creators

Indian Classical Music

Music can be a social activity, but it can also be a very spiritual experience. Ancient Indians were deeply impressed by the spiritual power of music, and it is out of this that Indian classical music was born. So, for those who take it seriously, classical music involves single-minded devotion and lifelong commitment. But the thing about music is that you can take it as seriously or as casually as you like. It is a rewarding experience, no matter how deep or shallow your involvement.

Most music has at least three main elements – melody, rhythm and harmony. Because of its contemplative, spiritual nature, Hindustani (north Indian) classical music is a solitary pursuit that focuses mainly on melodic development. In performance, rhythm also plays an important role, giving texture, sensuality and a sense of purpose to melody. Harmony in Indian classical music mainly takes the form of a harmonic resonance field supplied by instruments like the tanpura or swarmandal. More complex harmony can also be found with instruments like the santoor, and often as the inadvertent result of the harmonium trying to shadow the main vocalist or instrumentalist with a delay of a split second. The semi-melodic quality of the tabla adds a third dimension of harmony. Harmony in the Western sense, however, is not a part of traditional Indian music, and it is important not to look for it.

Raga (also “raag”) and Raga Performance

Very simply, a raga is a musical theme created by choosing a specific set of notes from within an octave. Music has the power to move us because it can speak to our deepest emotions through the moods it creates. Different sets of notes evoke different moods and inspire different feelings.

The main thing Hindustani classical music does is explore the melodic and emotional potential of different sets of notes. About five hundred ragas are known or known of (including historical ragas) today. Sometimes ragas die out if people stop singing them, but then new ragas are born all the time, and some of them endure. So, the number of ragas is not fixed. Students first learn all the important ragas, then spend many years mastering the ragas of their choice.

Defining “Classical music” in the Indian Context

Many of the Indian classical ragas are derived from (but much more evolved versions of) folk tunes from various parts of India, and most of the other popular and light-classical music forms in India are based on classical music, so how does one distinguish between classical and folk or popular music?

Folk tunes tend to be quite simple even when they are lively and colorful. Often they have a limited pitch range of less than an octave.

Popular music forms may be based on ragas to a greater or lesser extent or borrow ornamentation techniques from classical music, but they are almost always pre-composed and orchestrated, with lyrics and background music playing almost as prominent a role as the main melody line.

Semi-classical performances are somewhere between classical and popular. Usually, they are like classical performances in that they involve considerable improvisation and minimal instrumental accompaniment. The difference is that they are less complex and much shorter than serious classical performances. Semi-classical performances also usually feature easier ragas or mixed (experimental) ragas.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
We will be happy to hear your thoughts

      Leave a reply

      This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

      Current Affairs ONLY
      Register New Account
      Reset Password