Posts Tagged ‘north india’

Music of the North India

The raga and tala are realized within distinctive musical forms. Although a number of these are prevalent in both north and south India, the major types of each region have certain traits in common. The northern classical music (Hindustani music) usually opens with a prelude, the alap. Here only the soloist and the drone instrument are heard; the drum is silent, and the rhythm is free (there is no tala). The purpose of the alap is to explore the essential features of the raga–the important tones and the characteristic phrases–and to establish the appropriate mood. After the alap a short song is sung or played, and here the drum enters for the first time with the tala. The rest of the performance varies, depending on which formal type is being employed. But usually a great deal of improvisation is interspersed with recurring material from the song. The speed gradually increases, often leading to a rousing, extremely quick conclusion. In the north the chief melody instruments are the sitar, a stringed instrument with a body usually made of a gourd split approximately in half, a fingerboard about 1 m (3 ft) long, and seven main strings; the sarod, a stringed instrument about 1 m (3 ft) long, made of wood, with a metal fingerboard and six main strings; the shahnai, a double-reed wind instrument about 0.6 m (2 ft) long with seven finger holes; and the sarangi, a bowed stringed instrument used both for solo playing and for accompanying vocal music. The most common drum in the north is the tabla, which is actually two small drums, each having a single head (membrane).