Hindustani classical music is the classical music of the northern regions of the Indian subcontinent. It may also be called North Indian classical music or, in Hindustani, shastriya sangeet. Its origins date from the 12th century CE, when it diverged from Carnatic music, the classical tradition of southern regions of the Indian subcontinent.
Around the 12th century, Hindustani classical music diverged from what eventually came to be identified as Carnatic classical music.The central notion in both systems is that of a melodic musical mode or raga, sung to a rhythmic cycle or tala. It is melodic music, with no concept of harmony. These principles were refined in the musical treatises Natya Shastra, by Bharata (2nd–3rd century CE), and Dattilam (probably 3rd–4th century CE)
In medieval times, the melodic systems were fused with ideas from Persian music, particularly through the influence of Sufi composers like Amir Khusro, and later in the Mughal courts, noted composers such as Tansen flourished, along with religious groups like the Vaishnavites. Artists such as Dalptaram, Mirabai, Brahmanand Swami, and Premanand Swami revitalized classical Hindustani music in the 16-18th century.
After the 16th century, the singing styles diversified into different gharanas patronized in different princely courts. Around 1900, Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande consolidated the musical structures of Hindustani classical music, called ragas, into a few that are based on their notes. This is a very flawed system but is somewhat useful as a heuristic.
Distinguished musicians who are Hindu may be addressed as Pandit and those who are Muslim as Ustad. An aspect of Hindustani music going back to Sufi times is the tradition of religious neutrality: Muslim ustads may sing compositions in praise of Hindu deities and vice versa.
Indian classical music has seven basic notes with five interspersed half-notes, resulting in a 12-note scale. Unlike the 12-note scale in Western music, the base frequency of the scale is not fixed, and intertonal gaps (temperament) may also vary. The performance is set to a melodic pattern called a raga characterized in part by specific ascent (aroha) and descent (avaroha) sequences, "king" (vadi) and "queen" (samavadi) notes and characteristic phrases (pakad).
Ragas may originate from any source, including religious hymns, folk tunes, and music from outside the Indian subcontinentcitation needed. For example, raga Khamaj and its variants have been classicized from folk music, while ragas such as Hijaz originated in Persian maqams.
Ravana and Narada from Hindu mythology are accomplished musicians; Saraswati with her veena is the goddess of music. Gandharvas are presented as spirits who are musical masters, and the gandharva style looks to music primarily for pleasure, accompanied by the soma rasa. In the Vishnudharmottara Purana, the Naga king Ashvatara asks to know the swaras from Saraswati citation needed.
While the term raga is articulated in the Natya Shastra (where its meaning is more literal, meaning "color" or "mood"), it finds a clearer expression in what is called Jati in the Dattilam, a text composed shortly after or around the same time as Natya Shastra. The Dattilam is focused on Gandharva music and discusses scales (swara), defining a tonal framework called grama in terms of 22 micro-tonal intervals (shruti) comprising one octave. It also discusses various arrangements of the notes (Murchhana), the permutations and combinations of note-sequences (tanas), and alankara or elaboration. Dattilam categorizes melodic structure into 18 groups called Jati, which are the fundamental melodic structures similar to the raga. The names of the Jatis reflect regional origins, for example Andhri and Oudichya[citation needed.
Music also finds mention in a number of texts from the Gupta period; Kalidasa mentions several kinds of veena (Parivadini, Vipanchi), as well as percussion instruments (mridang), the flute (Vamshi) and conch (Shankha). Music also finds mention in Buddhist and Jain texts from the earliest periods of the common era.
Narada's Sangita Makarandha treatise, from about 1100 CE, is the earliest text where rules similar to those of current Hindustani classical music can be found. Narada actually names and classifies the system in its earlier form before the Persian influences introduced changes in the system. Jayadeva's Gita Govinda from the 12th century was perhaps the earliest musical composition sung in the classical tradition called Ashtapadi music.
In the 13th century, Sharangadeva composed the Sangita Ratnakara, which has names such as the Turushka Todi ("Turkish Todi"), revealing an influx of ideas from Islamic culture. This text is the last to be mentioned by both the Carnatic and the Hindustani traditions and is often thought to date the divergence between the two.
Hindustani music’s influence during the Delhi Sultanate
The advent of Islamic rule under the Delhi Sultanate and later the Mughal Empire over northern India caused considerable cultural interchange. Increasingly, musicians received patronage in the courts of the new rulers, who in their turn, started taking an increasing interest in local musical forms. While the initial generations may have been rooted in cultural traditions outside India, they gradually adopted many aspects of the Hindu culture from their kingdoms. This helped spur the fusion of Hindu and Muslim ideas to bring forth new forms of musical synthesis like qawwali and khyal.
The most influential musician of the Delhi Sultanate period was Amir Khusrau (1253–1325), a composer in Persian, Turkish, Arabic, as well as Braj Bhasha. He is credited with systematizing some aspects of Hindustani music, and also introducing several ragas such as Yaman Kalyan, Zeelaf and Sarpada. He created six genres of music: khyal, tarana, Naqsh, Gul, Qaul, and Qalbana. A number of instruments (such as the sitar) were also introduced in his time.
Amir Khusrau is sometimes credited with the origins of the khyal form, but the record of his compositions do not appear to support this. The compositions by the court musician Sadarang in the court of Muhammad Shah bear a closer affinity to the modern khyal. They suggest that while khyal already existed in some form, Sadarang may have been the father of modern khyal.
Much of the musical forms innovated by these pioneers merged with the Hindu tradition, composed in the popular language of the people (as opposed to Sanskrit) in the work of composers like Kabir or Nanak. This can be seen as part of a larger Bhakti tradition, (strongly related to the Vaishnavite movement) which remained influential across several centuries; notable figures include Jayadeva (11th century), Vidyapati (fl. 1375 CE), Chandidas (14th–15th century), and Meerabai (1555–1603 CE).
As the Mughal Empire came into closer contact with Hindus, especially under Jalal ud-Din Akbar, music and dance also flourished. In particular, the musician Tansen introduced a number of innovations, including ragas and particular compositions. Legend has it that upon his rendition of a night-time raga in the morning, the entire city fell under a hush and clouds gathered in the sky and that he could light fires by singing the raga "Deepak".