The Classical Music of Northern India
The ancient sages of India explored and experimented with the deep relationships of sound, cosmology and the human psyche and body. Over thousands of years, they developed a sophisticated and sublime music born out of these relationships, and organized it into an intricate living system of raga (melody) and tala (rhythm). The classical music of India, therefore, is based in the changing conditions of nature?s daily and seasonal cycles and related subtle variations in human feelings and sensations. Continually evolving for thousands of years, it has become one of the most sublime, sophisticated and beautiful musics in the world. For some, studying this music is a way to refine their musical skills through learning traditional compositions and methods of improvisation; for others, it is a spiritual practice preserved and expressed in the language of music. The element of rasa, or the feeling expressed by a raga, is evoked through the artistry of composition and improvisation according to the particular musical ideas and phrases of a given raga. Tal literally means "clap" and refers to the rhythm cycles, such as 7 beats or 16 beats, in which pieces are performed.
The tambura is the drone instrument used in Indian Classical music. It continuously produces a chord of the tonic (Sa) and either the fifth (Pa), fourth (Ma) or seventh note (Ni). It has a long neck with a gourd at the bottom with four metal wires strung over a wide, specially curved bone bridge. This design intensifies the presence of overtones normally present in a vibrating string, enabling an exceptionally precise tuning and the creation of a meditative atmosphere.
The sarangi is one of the oldest bowed instruments of North Indian music. It has approximately 35 steel sympathetic strings, which resonate with three bowed gut strings, giving it a uniquely haunting sound. It is held in a vertical position and fingered with the cuticles of the left hand. It is used as an accompaniment to vocal & tabla recitals as well as being a solo instrument.
The tabla is a North Indian two-piece drum. The right-hand drum is called Dahina or Tabla and the left-hand drum is called Bayan, though the two are collectively called Tabla. Both the drums are covered with goat hide. The Dahina is tuned with a hammer. The drums are played with fingers, palm and wrist as necessary. It is popular not only in accompaniment with vocal and instrumental music and dance, but also as a solo instrument.