The Music of India reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Music of India

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The Music of India includes multiples varieties of folk and pop music, along with Karnatak and Hindustani classical music.

Table of contents
1 Pop music
2 Folk music
3 Classical music
4 Qawwali
5 References
6 See also
7 External links

Pop music

1907 EMI International poster featuring
goddess of music Saraswati and a gramophone
The biggest form of Indian
pop music is filmi, or music originated in films. Other forms of pop musicians include Alisha Chinai and rock bands like Indus Creed.


The capital of the Indian film music industry is Mumbai (Bombay); consequently, the film industry there is referred to as Bollywood. Films in other regional languages are produced in the respective regions. Popular composers include Ilayaraja (Tamil, Telugu), Rajesh Roshan (Hindi), A.R. Rahman (Tamil, Hindi) and Raamlaxman (Hindi). Many of the films tend to be idealized visions of Indian life, and much of the music is similarly jolly and romantic. Prominent vocal stars include Lata Mangeshkar and S.P. Balasubrahmaniam.

Cinema began taking shape in India in the late 19th century, and silent films soon became very popular. In 1931, Ardeshir M. Irani's Alam Ara was adapted from a piece of Parsi theater and launched Indian talkies. The music became extremely popular, and was soon heavily advertised. One reason for the push was that India's linguistic diversity meant dialogue would be incomprehensible for a large portion of the audience, no matter what language it was made in. Music provided a neutral option.

A form of filmi based on ghazal (see below) is called filmi-ghazal and was introduced by Talat Mahmood; it was eventually modernized into ghazal-song.

Western fusions

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, rock and roll fusions with Indian music were well-known throughout Europe and North America. Ali Akbar Khan's 1955 performance in the United States was perhaps the beginning of this trend, which was soon centered around Ravi Shankar.

In 1962, Shankar and Bud Shank, a jazz musician, released Improvisations and Theme From Pather Pachali and began fusing jazz with Indian traditions. Future pioneers like John Coltrane continued this fusion, called indo jazz. George Harrison (of The Beatles) played the sitar, which he had learned from Shankar, on the song "Norwegian Wood" in 1965. Other Western artists like the Grateful Dead, Incredible String Band, Rolling Stones, The Move and Traffic soon incorporated Indian influences and instruments, and added Indian performers.

Though the Indian music craze soon died down among mainstream audiences, diehard fans and immigrants continued the fusion. In the late 1980s, Indian-British artists fused Indian and Western traditions to make the Asian Underground.

Folk music

The arrival of movies and pop music weakened folk music's popularity, but cheaply recordable music has made it easier to find and helped revive the traditions. Folk music (desi) has been influential on classical music, which is viewed as a higher art form. Instruments and styles have impacted classical ragas.

Brass bands

Brass bands, descended from English traditions, are now very popular especially at weddings and other special occasions.


Bhangra is a form of dance-oriented folk music that has become a pop sensation in the United Kingdom. The present musical style is derived from the traditional musical accompaniment to the folk dance of Punjab called by the same name, Bhangra.


A form of folk music adapted for clubs is called dandiya. It is based on Gujarati folk music, and includes best-selling artists like Falguni Pathak.


Rajasthani has a diverse collection of musician castes, including langas, sapera, bhopa, jogi and manganiyar.


The Bauls of India and Bangladesh are a mystical order of musicians and played a form of music using a khamak, ektara and dotara.

Classical music

The two main traditions of classical music have been Carnatic music, found predominantly in the peninsular regions and Hindustani music, found in the northern and central parts. While both traditions claim Vedic origin, history indicates that until c. 13th century, there was only one Indian music tradition. From them on, most of north India was under Islamic rule, and Hindustani music is the result of a fusion of Mughal, Arabic and Persian traditions with traditional Indian music. Carnatic music, on the other hand, traces much of its contemporary concert repertoire to a series of composers and musicologists in the 15th and 16th centuries including Govindacharya, Venkatamakhin, Purandaradasa, Tyagaraja and Muttusvami Dikshitar. For more, see Indian classical music, Hindustani music and Carnatic music.


Qawwali is a Sufi form of devotional music. It is performed with one or two lead singers, several chorus singers, harmonium, tabla, and dholak.


See also

External links