Indian traditional music is, in its various forms, the expression of long-standing local traditions. In fact, the origins of Indian classical music can be found in the beliefs of its people, which date as far back as the Neolithic period: according to Indian mythology, music was the tool through which the god Brahma created the universe.
The Origins of Traditional Indian Music
One important feature of Indian traditional music is that it is not written down. Indeed, in the past, it had been passed down through generations via memory, not paper. Although this is not strictly the case nowadays, more tradition-oriented musicians still adhere to this practice. This perhaps led to the second major feature of Indian classical music, which is a heavy emphasis on improvisation.
A Cultural Community of Music
Although it became somewhat divided following the demise of the colonial era, music remains a cultural common ground between India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Despite linguistic or religious differences, similar forms of traditional music can be found across borders in these countries. This is especially true within India, which is itself home to various different cultures and traditions. Despite this diversity, traditional music and dance create a sense of cultural community. If you are travelling through India, you will soon find out how local tunes in different regions never sound too unfamiliar.
Different Types of Indian Music
One major form of Indian classical music is Hindustani, mainly practiced in the northern region of the country. In the south, a form of traditional music known as Carnatic music is more widespread. In both genres, the intervals of tones, harmonies and rhythmic formulas are the unique product of a wealth of traditions and musical influences. A large part of both types of Indian music make references to different fables and legends of the country.
Both instrumental and vocal music are often associated with the dance in India. If you happen to come across a performance in India, more often than not you will also be able to appreciate a dancing performance.
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