Indian classical music has its roots in the sacred, ancient traditions of India, and has evolved today into a sophisticated and beautiful art music, now performed and enjoyed by people the world over. Traditionally, it has been passed along from teacher to student in an oral tradition.
North Indian Classical Music has a large repertoire of hundreds of traditional melodies, known as raagas, with thousands of songs and instrumental pieces composed in each. One unique aspect of this type of music is that, though it is firmly rooted in a rich, ancient musical tradition with many elements, there is also a tremendous space for each performer to improvise and express his own feelings. Such a performance is authentically unique, spontaneously composed on the spot, and never duplicated again. Listeners are able to witness and experience true music-making in action in a highly sophisticated and invigorating form. The improvisatory nature of North Indian Classical Music provides a rich, fresh, and lively performance for listeners to experience.
Traditionally, Indian Classical Music served as a form of worship in the temples and courts. Originally developed with the intention of bringing about inner peace, harmony, and unity, this music is also highly virtuosic, and the innovative sitarist Arjun Verma carries on the tradition of his teacher, Maestro Ali Akbar Khan, in bringing these qualities to modern audiences around the world.
North Indian Classical Music, one of the deep and sophisticated musical traditions of the world, has a large repertoire of hundreds of traditional melodic structures (raagas), with thousands of songs and instrumental pieces composed in each. The raagas were created by various musical masters over the course of many centuries of musical development in India, and each one expresses a particular collection of emotions. Some raagas are over a millennium old, while others were composed in modern times. Some are very light, whimsical, and romantic, while others are extremely brooding, melancholy, or contemplative. Each raaga has certain defining musical features such as characteristic phrases, melodic ornaments, ascending/descending patterns, and strong/weak notes. But within this structure, the performer has the freedom to improvise and weave his/her own unique musical tapestry.
In its complete format, a single piece of Indian Classical Music can be as long as a symphony, and has a similar structure of large movements. When playing a raaga, performers generally pick and choose which of the traditional movements to play. Some of the main movements include:
Alaap –Melody without any fixed rhythmic meter
Jor – Melody with simple meter, becoming increasingly faster and more rhythmically complex
Jhala – Fast finale where rhythmic patterns come to the forefront.