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Indian Classical Music

Music is the soul of the cosmos. It is found everywhere from the rustling of the trees to the playful streams and to the titter-patter of the raindrops. Indian music, in particular is one of the oldest and finest forms of human expression. The Vedas, representing the most ancient literature known to the world, are set to a distinctive melody that is absolutely soothing. Folk and classical music developed side by side. The varied human passions like, agony, ecstasy, sorrow, hope, desire etc. found expression in the subtle notes of music.

Hindustani and Carnatic are the two major systems of classical music. Though they have similar origin and source, according to ancient scripts, they seem distinct. A new form of Hindustani classical emerged during the 13th and 14th centuries. This was known as Khayal, meaning imagination. The style gave an entirely new meaning to Hindustani classical music. Amir Khusrau is considered to be the proponent of this style.
Raga (melody) is India’s contribution to the world of music. It is fundamental to Indian classical music, both Hindustani and Carnatic. A highly scientific and practical scheme of raga classification introduced by Venkatamahi became the foundation for Indian classical music. Ragas are made of different combination of sapta swara or seven notes. These are Sa Sadjam, Ri Rishabam, Ga Gaandhaaram, Ma Madhyamam, Pa Pancham, Dha Dhaivadam, Ni Nishadam. Swara is generally defined as a note whereas a shruti is the microtonal intervals between two swaras.
Be it Carnatic or Hindustani classical music, Indian classical music reflects Indian life, having no predetermined beginning or end, but flowing uninterrupted through the composer-performer. The purpose of Indian classical music is to refine one’s soul, discipline one’s body, to make one aware of the infinite within one, to unite one’s breath with that of space and one’s vibrations with that of the cosmos.

Indian Instrumental Music

Indian instrumental music is basically vocal in conception. Some can be played as solo instruments and others are used as accompaniments to vocalists or dancers. There are instruments that are used for devotional and ritualistic purposes too, like the conch. The antiquity of musical instruments is evident from the prehistoric cave paintings and sculptures of ancient temples. Indian musical instruments can be broadly classified into four types: tantu or stringed, susir or wind, avanada or percussion and ghana comprising of bells, cymbals and gongs. There are variations according to complexities in these too.
Instruments, Veena, Gotuvadhyam, Thavil, Mridanangam, and the plain drum are some of the ancient instruments of music in India. The Sitar and the Tabla were late comers. The sitar appears to have infiltrated from Persia and has assumed great popularity.
Except the Veena which is neatly fretted, all instruments are negotiated by the method of trial and error. Their handling depends on the ingenuity and dexterity of player. The flute and the nadaswarm as also the shehnai are wind instruments; the veena, gottuvadhyam, sitarabnd now the sarod from Afghanistan are stringed instruments. Other wind instruments include the bansuri, nadaswaram, ninkirns and pongi.
The drum varieties are percussion instruments. There are many types of drums in India. The double-faced ones can be hit on both sides, like the dholak or the pakhawaj. Similarly, the mridangam of the south, used to accompany Carnatic music, is placed on the lap of a person and struck with the hands on both sides. The tabla on the other hand is a set of two single faced drums is played using both hands. It is the traditional accompaniment for Hindustani music.
Religious festivals in Kerala are incomplete without the large drums called chenda, which are beaten with sticks. The ghatam is perhaps the most interesting as it a big round clay pot. It is placed on the musician’s lap and who taps it with his fingers and knuckles to produce the most exciting sounds.

The last category, ghana, has a wide variety of instruments that are percussion-based like bells, clappers, cymbals, and gongs. They usually fulfill rhythmic functions that produce a variety of notes like the other instruments. The jal-tarang is a set of china bowls of varying sizes filled with different quantities of water, which produce different notes when tapped with a stick.


For learning music or an instrument it is better to start at an early age. Lot of practice and training is needed before you could actually perform before an audience. Minimum of 8-10 years is needed to learn the skill. Sincerity and hard work is needed to achieve success in this field.

List of Music Classes in Mumbai:

  • Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan
    F M Munshi marg, Chowpatty, Mumbai 400 007
    Telephone: 363 0265 / 363 4464

  • Sangeeta Gupta
    2/ a, Saraswati Sadan, Bhulabhai Desai Rd., Mumbai 400 026
    Telephone: 369 8686
    Email: [email protected]

  • Shree Kalyan Sangeet Vidyalaya
    Ranjit Studio, Dadasaheb Phalke Rd., Dadar
    Telephone: 4114008

  • Swar Sadhna Sangeet Vidyalaya: Pandurang Thackeray
    16-54, B. D. Chawl, Shivdi (W), Lower parel, Mumbai 400 015
    Telephone: 411 5807 / 287 0503

  • Sadhna Nritya Sangeet Vidyalay: Shashi Gupta
    C 201, Varthman nagar, Dr. R P Rd., Mulund (W), Mumbai 400 080
    Telephone: 560 4731

  • Chandrashekhar Phanse
    336, Panchsheel, Bhardawadi, Andheri (W), Mumbai 400 058
    Telephone: 628 0281 / Co: 892 6798

  • Nritya Umang
    A 104, Meenakshi apt., Filmcity Rd.,Gokul Dham,Goregaon (E),
    Mumbai 400 063
    Telephone: 840 7614 / 842 1036

  • Sangeet Kalyan
    My Little home, 3 floor, 8A, Plot no 3, 10 Rd., Juhu, Mumbai 400 049
    Telephone: 620 8314

  • Saptak Sangeet Academy
    409, Usha, Janakalyan nagar, Malad (W)
    Telephone: 805 4486
    Email: [email protected]

  • Sharda Sangeet Vidyalay
    Madhusadan, Kalelkar marg, Kala nagar, Bandra, Mumbai 400 051
    Telephone: 642 2433 /643 9439

  • Shri Vyas Classes
    158/ 5, Jawahar Nagar, Goregoan, Mumbai-400 062
    Telephone:  876 5186

  • Trishul Classes
    10/ 117, Ram krishna Nagar, Khar, Mumbai-400 052
    Telephone:  648 8112

  • Institute of Music
    19 Kailash Nivas, 2, Go Feet Rd, Ghatkopar( E)- 77
    Telephone:  5138628

  • Sangeet Abhinav Academy
    A901, Mahakali Caves Road, Mumbai – 400093
    Telephone: 8221709

  • Sangeet Upasana Mandir
    New Shyam Nagar, Jogeshwari, Mumbai – 400060
    Telephone:  8217650

  • Sangeeta Kalyan
    15 B, Hava Mahal, Goathan Lane No. 1, Andheri – 400058
    Telephone:  6208314

  • Shree Kalyan Sangeet Vidyalaya
    DBlk Ranjit Studio, DS Phalake Road, Dadar -400014
    Telephone: 4114008

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