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Dance and Music

Classical Dances

Dance in India, is rooted to age-old tradition. This vast sub-continent has given birth to varied forms of dancing, each shaped by the influences of a particular period and environment. The nation offers a number of classical dance forms, each of which can be traced to different parts of the country. Each form represents the culture and ethos of a particular region or a group of people.

Click on the following links to know more about some of the famous Classical Dances of India:

Folk Dances

The age-old culture of India has given birth to various forms of folk dances, coming from the unique diversity that the nation has. The diversity in culture and tradition is well reflected in the folk dances. All these dance forms from different states portray some expression of life and almost every dance posture has a specific meaning.

Click on the following links to know more about some of the famous Folk Dances of India:

Classical Music

The roots of the Indian music can be traced back to the Vedic period, when the celestial creator of the universe, Brahma was said to have handed down music to the world through his son, sage Narada, to usher in an era of peace and solace among humanity. Music is one of the oldest forms of art, which has been reflecting the richness of Indian culture and tradition throughout ages. Right from the evolution of music, there have been many developmental phases in its path, which have redefined the creative enormity and infiniteness of the art.

New historical and cultural research has shown that Indian music has progressed through a very intricate communication between different people practising different traditions and cultures. The amalgamation of the musical styles of various races in the country displays the ethnic diversity of India, which is found nowhere in any other nation.

The earliest form of music was used during the Vedic period as sacred hymns, which were chanted through a method called "Ek Swari Gaayana," meaning singing with the help of one note. The single note hymns gradually developed to the "Gatha Gaayana" method of singing with double notes. Eventually, the Vedic chants of the single note, double notes, and such other systems gave way to the initiation of the seven note system called "Saptaswara". Modern studies of the Vedic period reveal that music had been regarded as a highly previleged art form in every household, as it had been handed down to them by the Gods themselves. In this context, the glory of the Gupta period reverberates throughout the history of Indian music as one of the most important contributors to the development of Indian music.

The evolution of modern-day Indian music, or "Sangeet," as it is popularly known in the country, has simplified the art form through various innovations. Indian music has essentially been known to be performed through three modes - vocal music, instrumental music, and dance. All the three mediums of music are prevalent in the two prominent kinds of Indian classical music, namely the North Indian classical music or the Hindustani classical music, and the classical music of South India or the Carnatic music, as well as other folk music.

Hindustani Music :

The history of Hindustani classical music is said to have originated during the period of the Indus Valley Civilization, although the only evidencial support to the claim are the recovery of the famous bronze dancing girl from that period and the customary worshipping of Rudra or Shiva, the God of dance, drama, and music. After the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization came the stage of the Vedic music, in which sacrifices and prayers were made to the Gods through hymns and chants in musical style. Moreover, music was one of the key factors in the creation of two of the greatest of Indian epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Music in India, from the transitional period to the modern age has witnessed tremendous development in style and methodology. Great musicians in the history of Indian music, such as Kalidasa, Tansen, Amir khusrou, etc. have contributed immensely to the progress of Indian music, the reputation of which is still being maintained in the modern era by musical stalwarts like Pandit Ravi Shankar, Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi, Pandit Jasraj, Prabha Atre, Sultan Khan, Zakeer Hussain, and so on.

Carnatic Music :

The south Indian form of Indian classical music is known as Carnatic music, and is a musical style performed with the company of several musical instruments, such as violin, veena, mridangam, etc. Carnatic music is prevalent in the south Indian states of Tamil Nadu, kerala, Andhra pradesh and Karnataka. Carnatic music follows a pattern of mainly devotional themes, most of which are sung in the praise of Hindu deities. The prime components of Carnatic music follows the same pattern as any other Indian classical music, which are the Raga, implying the melody part, and the Tala, denoting the rhythmic part. Musical instruments are an intrinsic part of Carnatic music, and have strengthened the foundation of this art form at the hands of immaculate musicians like T.R. Mahalingam, M. Chandrasekaran, and so on. Some of the proponents of Carnatic classical music have created waves in the international circuit through their immortal compositions and have been bestowed with several awards and commemorations, thus making them legends in the field. Some of these doyens of carnatic music include the names of M.S. Subbulakshmi, Madurai Mani Iyer, M.S. Balasubramanya Sarma, and so on.

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