For this blog post, I searched and searched and searched for topics/ideas for weeks in vain. Until now, when I finally realized that music is universal! So why not discuss Indian classical music and some of its similarities and dissimilarities to Western music!!
I have been studying North Indian Classical Music for over 4 years now. And I have come to realize that Indian classical music in one of the most beautiful gifts to mankind. It is deep, energizing, relaxing and, well, old! As per my research, existence of Indian music can be dated to as far back as 2000 BC.
Indian classical music is based on ragas, which are scales and melodies that provide the foundation for a performance. Unlike western classical music, that is deterministic, Indian classical music allows for a much greater degree of “personalization” of the performance, almost to the level of jazz-like improvisation. Thus, each performance of a raga is different. The goal of the raga is to create a trance state, to broadcast a mood of ecstasy. The main difference with western classical music is that the Indian ragas are not “composed” by a composer, but was created via a lengthy evolutionary process over the centuries. Thus they do not represent mind of the composer but a universal idea of the world. They transmit not personal but impersonal emotion. Another difference is that Indian music is monodic, not polyphonic. Hindustani (North Indian) ragas are assigned to specific times of the day (or night) and to specific seasons. Carnatic (Southern Indian) ragas constitute one of the oldest systems of music in the world.
Honestly, 350 words cannot be enough to even introduce Indian music. The study is so vast. However, here’s a video that might give a hint. It is a clip from a program on Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan of Patiala Gharana, the Great Indian Classical Vocalist. In this clip, Khan sahib sings the following ragas: Bhairav, Bhairavi, Gujari Todi, Megh, Pilu, Multani, Marwa, Shankara, Kedar, Malkauns, Sindh Bhairavi, Jaijaiwanti, Yaman and Pahadi.