Guide to Hindustani Classical Music: You would never need anything else

Origins of Hindustani Classical Music

Hindustani Classical Music, also known as “Shastriya Sangeet” or “Klasiki Mausiqi” was originated in the form of Vedic Chants in 12th Century CE. The place of origin for Hindustani Classical music is know to be Northern India, Pakistan, Banglashdesh, Nepal and few parts of Afghanistan. In today’s world, it is one of the two major classical music forms namely:

  • Carnatic (Karnatak) Music originated mainly in Southern India and
  • Hindustani Classical Music.


Because of it’s roots in Samaveda (Sama meaning Song), Hindustani Classical Music has a central notion of melodic mode (which is similar to the chanting of Srutis of Rigveda), often referred to as Ragas which are sung in a rhythmic cycle which is known as Tala. Hindustani Classical Music was mainly a form of Art in 12 century with a classification of masters of the arts as Pandits for hindus and Ustads for Muslims. It was also a religiously neutral art form as witnessed by the Sufi music where ustads often sang songs about Hindu Deities and vice versa.

Music In Vedas and Vedic Era

The concept of tones or notes of 7 originally came from Samveda where it gave structure to the singing of the verses of Rigveda. These seven notes were:

  • Krusht
  • Pratham
  • Dwitiya
  • Tritiya
  • Chaturth
  • Mandra
  • Atiswar

At that time the only fixed frequency instrument was flute so these notes are with respect to notes of the flute. Music was also intensively depicted in the religious scriptures like Ramayana, where Narada was an accomplished musician and so does Ravana. Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge and music with her Veena. The most important text on music is Bharata’s Natya Shastra which deals with different styles of music, dance and drama including the emotional responses of the listener or viewer. The term Raag gets its meaning also from Bharata’s Natya Shastra.

Main Concepts
Swara, Thaat, Shruti, Raags, Sargam, Tala, Laya, Bandish, Gharan

Musical Instruments
Sitar, Sarod, Veena, Bansuri, Santoor, Shehnai, Sarangi, Tambura, Tabla, Pakhavaj

Dhrupad, Dhamar, Khyal, Tarana, Sadra

Semi-Classical Genres
Thumri, Dadra, Tappa, Kajari, Chaiti, Sawani, Hori, Bhajan, Abhang, Natyageet, Qawwali, Ghazal

Bilaval, Khamaj, Kafi, Asavari, Bhairav, Bhairavi, Todi, Purvi, Marwa, Kalyan