Sadharani - A site dedicated to Indian Classical Music, Veena and Dhrupad. Sadharani - A site dedicated to Indian Classical Music, Veena and Dhrupad.
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Indian Classical Music

Ever since human beings learnt to produce sound, there has been “Naad”. “Naad” is produced as a combination of air and fire from “Naabhi”. There are two types of Naad – “ahata” (that which is produced by striking, plucking etc) and “anahata” (that which is produced by itself). Since ancient days, people have been using different kinds of syllables for singing. Initially, there was only one note which was called “Aarchik” which graduated to two notes called “Gaathik” and finally to three notes called “Saamik” – the last one was widely used in singing Sama Gaana ( or Sama Veda – which itself was compiled from Rig Veda), and can still be heard in certain rituals and temples. The three notes are called “Udutta”, “Anudatta” and “Svarita”. The syllables, or “solfa” used were called “Brahma solfa” which by itself may not convey any meaning, but when recited with the right intonation and swar, it had many effects.

Music was generally divided into two categories – Maarga and Desi. Maarga sangeet was more of an offering to God – not necessarily just ritualistic or hymns – but a way to see God through music. Desi sangeet was for the common man, and for entertainment. Desi sangeet also catered to regional variations, local influences, culture, tastes etc.

While the rituals, yagnas etc of the Vedic texts continued, music grew in its own way as a separate field – though there always was a close connection between the two. The number of notes – in a scientific way – grew from 3 to 5 and finally to 7 (“saptak”). The Saptak was then divided into 22 microtones or srutis. Then came the scaling or gramas – Shadja Grama, Gandhar Grama and Madhyama Grama based music, chants etc. In the course of time, great scholars began to deeply study and understand various aspects of music. As a result of this, many treatises or shastras have been written on Music eg. Natya Shastra, Naradiya shiksha, Sangeet Samaysara, Sangeet Ratnakar, Silappadikaram, Brihaddesi etc.

Instruments were of four kinds – “Tata”, stringed like the Veena, “Avanadha”, closed like the drum, “Ghana”, solid like the cymbal, “Sushira”, with holes for blowing like the flute.

One of the most comprehensive treatises on Music is “Sangeet Ratnakar” written by Sarangdev in the 13th century. According to his classification, there are 5 styles of rendering music which are also known as “Geetis”, namely, Shuddha, Bhinna, Gaudi, Vegaswara and Saadharani. Music progressed further with classification of Ragas based on Gramas and Raag – Raagini systems.

Today what is known as Carnatic music is nothing but Vegaswara Geeti. Also, many treatises(for eg. Silappadikaram of South and Sangeet Ratnakar of North) of the North and South have the same concepts of swars, srutis, murchana, grama etc. Even today, Carnatic musicians use syllables in their Raaga alaap which is similar to those used by Dhrupad singers eg.Ta, ra, na etc. Hence all forms of Classical Music of India has the same basis – they are just different styles rendered differently.

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