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Hindustani Classical Music

Hindustani Classical Music, both vocal and instrumental, is an ancient art that originated in the Vedic times, more than 5000 years ago. Over time it was greatly patronized and popularized by the Mughal emperors. It is an oral tradition, an unwritten art form which is handed down from grandmasters to students in an ongoing cycle of apprenticeship that links Hindustani classical musicians of today to the ancient masters through an uninterrupted chain.


Raaga: a unique intricate system of scales and associated melodic patterns. 

    • Hindustani Classical music follows 7 essential swaras (notes): Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni, corresponding to the Western musical notes: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti.
    • Additionally, there are five half-notes - four komal (flat), Re, Ga, Dha, Ni and one teevar (sharp), Ma, creating a syllabus of 12 notes. The 12 notes are arranged in hundreds of permutations and combinations to form melodic structures giving rise to hundreds of Raagas. Each Raaga is unique – in other words – no two raagas are identical. Each Raaga belongs to one of the 10 parent structures called Thaat. Raagas follow a single melodic line and has no harmonic parts.

Each Raaga is governed by a time-theory corresponding to the hours of a day or a particular season.

Each Raaga strives to evoke a specific rasa (emotion or mood). Rasa is the ultimate creation that musicians strive for. Examples: shanta (contemplative, meditative, peaceful), bhakti (contemplative and devotional); Shringar (both romantic and devotional love).

“Guru-Shishya Parampara” (Master-Apprentice Tradition)

  • Oral Tradition: Since its inception, this music has been taught through an oral tradition.  Nothing is written: the art has been handed down orally from grandmasters to students in an ongoing cycle of apprenticeship, formally known as the guru-shishya parampara or the master-apprentice tradition of teaching and learning. This is a powerful link that connects Hindustani Classical musicians of today to the ancient masters through an uninterrupted musical lineage.


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*Photographs Courtesy of Avinash Pasricha
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