Niklas Holmberg

- official website

About Me  |  About Indian Western/Fusion Music  |  About Indian music  |  About the blues/rock  |  Contact |   News

About Indian music

Niklas Holmberg

Indian music has ancient roots and one of the earliest records of music is found in the Sama Veda that dates back thousands of years. Two distinctively different musical systems have developed in India into what we today refer to as Hindustani (North Indian) and Carnatic (South Indian) music.
Carnatic music is in simplified terms the original form of Indian music whereas Hindustani music have clear influences from Persian music and the compositions performed and played are what is known as Ragas.

The most popular and well known instruments (apart from vocals) used in Hindustani music are:
1. Sitar (string instrument)
2. Sarod (String instrument)
3. Sarangi (bowed instrument)
4. Bansuri (bamboo flute)
5. Tabla (small drums played by hand)

In Carnatic Music.
1. Veena (string instrument)
2. Violin
3. Bambooflute
4. Mridangam (drums)


Each Raga has its origin in one of the basic scales and each Raga and basic scale has a number of fixed notes that are supposed to be played in a certain order depending on if the vocalist/instrumentalist makes an ascending (arohana) movement or a descending (avarohana) movement. Each raga and scale has its roots in a rasa (mood) and the Raga is set to produce one of these moods or rasas. This is one of the major differences between western and Indian music. Indian Raga music concentrates on one mood whereas western music mixes moods freely.
Each Raga has also two notes that are supposed to be stressed a little bit more now and then in the composition. Theese two note are known as Vadi and Samavadi.
Ragas are also designed to be performed on different times of the day in order to unfold the true spirit and beauty of the raga, though today performers pay less attention to this due to the modern society and audiences in the west.
A Raga is built up by several sections and the Raga always starts with an Alap. The alap is performed without any percussion or rhythm and the performer is supposed to slowly unfold the rasa (mood) and notes of the raga to the listener/audience. After alap follows the Ghat and the performer playes fixed compositions to the tala (rhythm cycle) in one of three tempos: vilambit (slow), madhya (medium) and drut (fast). The raga ends with a Jhala which is often played or sung in a very fast tempo with increased intensity and speed.

The 10 basic scales of Hindustani music that also are popular Ragas:

1. Bilawal
2. Kalyan
3. Khamaj
4. Bhairav
5. Puryia
6. Marwa
7. Bhairavi
8. Asavari
9. Kafi
10. Todi

Talas (Rhythm)

Pandit Rajandra Nakod

The instrumentalist/vocalist is most often accompanied by the tabla (Hindustani music) or the Mridangam (Carnatic music) as the keeper of Rhythm and the rhythmic cycles are known as Talas or Talams. The most popular tala in Hindustani music is Teental of 16 beats divided into 4+4+4+4 and another popular tala is Jhaptal of 10 beats divided into 2+3+2+3. Within Hindustani and Carnatic music numerous talas have been developed and according to some expert there should be more than 1000 different talas. The talas are in themselves fixed compositions and the stressing of Sum by the percussionist (the first beat in any tala) is essential for the instrumentalist/vocalist in order to keep track of where in the composition they are.


All contents on this website such as music,video,photo and text
Copyright ©2010  Niklas Holmberg. All Rights Reserved.
Black & White Photo: Petteri Koste