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Article: Genres in Indian Music

By Haresh Bakshi
  All throughout, the term "Indian music" is used here to mean Hindustani music. We must clarify, however, that we have two types of music in India: the North Indian, which is the same as Hindustani; and the South Indian, which is synonymous with Karnatic music.

Indian music is based on human voice. Thus vocal music dominates the scene. Therefore, inherently, it has a limited range of two to three octaves. It can sound very beautiful even when unaccompanied; it never has elaborate accompaniment. There is an accompanying sound for reference, also called tonic, key, drone, or "Shadja (Sa)" which comes via the Tanpura. When performed to a tempo, it has an accompaniment of a percussion (the tabla, the mridungam, the pakhavaj, dholak,-- several of the membranophones and idiophones used in light and folk music). If the singer is fortunate, he has the support of Sarangi, harmonium, or, more uncommonly, taar shehnai.

The popular Indian solo instruments include tabla, sitar, flute, sarod, santoor, guitar, violin, shehanai, sarangi etc.

The genres prevalent today are:(i) dhrupad [and hori-dhamar] (ii) khayal (iii) tarana (iv) chatarang (v) thumri (vi) bhajan (vii) ghazal (viii) tappa (ix) tirvat (x) dadra (xi) qawwali (xii) sadra (xiii) khamsa (xiv) lavni (xv) kajri (xvi) kirtan (xvii) chaiti (xviii) sugam sangeet (xix) folk music, etc. etc.

The above list does NOT include the most popular type of music in India : Film (movie) music.



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