Indian music

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Tamak' (r.) and Tumdak' (l.) - typical drums of the Santhal people, photographed in a village in Dinajpur district, Bangladesh.

There are lots of different varieties of Indian music. Most of the different types of music are similar to Western music types. Pop, classical, and folk are all included. India’s classical music has a history originating hundreds of years back and is still popular in India today, as religious inspiration or pure entertainment. Girl and boy bands are common in India. Farida Vakil founded one of the first female bands in India, The Ladybirds. Like Africa, India has many different ethnic groups, speaking their own languages, and having very distinct cultural traditions.

The tal, or tala, is a repeating rhythm pattern usually played by the tabla. It usually has between six and sixteen beats. The beats are grouped into small sections in the pattern. The first note in the pattern is called a ‘sam’. It shows the beginnings and ends of improvisation, so it is often emphasized.

The Raga is also a pattern, but it differs from Western scales or melodies. Ragas are sort of a mix of scales and melodies. They have particular ascending and descending patterns. Ragas are used to symbolize the time of day, season, mood or special occasion.

drone is a note that’s either held or repeated throughout a piece of music. It’s usually the tonic note, the starting note. Nowadays, the drone is played by an electrical box, but traditionally, it is played using the tanpura, which is also known as the Tambura.

Improvisation is when the player does not have a prepared piece or an incomplete piece of music, and they make up notes as they play. Improvisation is recognized as a form of composition.

There are 4 types of structure in Indian Music, Alap, Jhor, Jhala and Gat/Bandish. Each of these has different roles in a piece of Indian music.

Alap is the name for the opening part of a piece of classical music from North India. It is a type of melodic improvisation that includes a Raga in it. Only the singer and the drone can be heard at this point.

Jhor is a more elaborate version of the Raga that is included in the Alap. It forms the beginning of the performance. This comes after Alap and before Jhala.

Jhala indicates the fast-paced ending of the Raga. It is often distinguished by the overcoming of the melodic component by the rhythm.

The Gat, or Bandish is a permanent composition set in a specific Raga. It is accompanied by the Tabla, a drone and melodic accompaniment by a sarangi , violin or harmonica.