Music is considered food for the soul. It acts as medicine for a depressing soul or a tensed mind. Music has its varied forms suiting different moods e.g. classical music, hip hop, rock and roll, blues, jazz etc. Each of these varied forms has their own regional and cultural traditions.


Music has always been instrumental in defining Indian culture. Various forms of music in India like classical, folk and tribal are linked to Indian way of life. Here is brief information on various styles of music in India.

Classical Music
Indian classical music can be divided into two parts: Hindustani and Carnatic. It is considered one of the most complex and complete musical systems ever evolved in music. Indian classical music goes back to the vedas. Samaveda, one of the vedas, describes music in detail. Hindustani classical music is related to the north part of India, while Carnatic music’s roots belong to the southern part of the country.

Hindustani Classical
Hindustani classical music is categorized into two types: instrumental and vocal.

Hindustani music is based on the raga system. A raga is a melodic scale, consisting of notes from the basic seven known as sa, re, ga, ma pa, dha, and ni. Apart from sa and pa which are constant, the other notes may be in major or minor tone, and this gives rise to innumerable combinations. Ten basic scales or thaats are recognized, and other ragas are considered to have evolved from these. A raga must contain a minimum of five notes.

Depending on the notes included in it, each raga acquires its distinct character. The form of the raga is also determined by the particular pattern of ascent and descent of the notes, which may not be linear. Melody is built by the process improvising and elaborating within the given scale. The improvisation is at times rhythm bound and at other times free from any rhythm.

Khyal and Dhrupad are two major types of compositions within the Hindustani genre. Dhrupad is an older form which requires rigourous training in rhythm control as well as voice culture. Khyal developed to be more popular as it contains both slow and lively compositions, though it retains its totally classical character.

Carnatic sangeet, (Karnatik Sangit) is the south Indian system of music.  It has a very rich history and a sophisticated theoretical system.  The performers and composers, singing and playing carnatic sangeet have gained a world class reputation. Instruments mainly used are veena (vina), gottuvadyam, violin, and mridangam.

Carnatic music has a highly developed theoretical system.  Its development is based upon a complex system of ragam (rag) and thalam (tal).  These describe the melodic and rhythmic forms respectively.

The melodic foundation is the ragam (rag).  Ragam (rag) is basically means the scale.  The seven notes of the scale are Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Dha and Ni.  However, there are certain melodic restrictions and obligations as compared to the simple scale.  Each ragam (rag) has its own particular way that it moves from note to note.

The ragams are categorized into various modes. These are referred to as mela and there are 72 in number. The mela conceptually are similar to the thats of North Indian music.  The major difference is South Indian scales allow chromatic forms which are not allowed in Hindustani music.  For example it is acceptable for the first three notes (i.e., Sa Re Ga) to all be roughly one semitone apart.  It is these permissible forms which allow there to be so many mela.

The tal (thalam) is the rhythmic foundation to the system.  The south Indian tals are defined by clapping and waving, while this is not given much importance in the north. North Indians musicians define their tals by theirs theka.

Folk Music
India being extremely cultural diverse country has an array of folk music styles. This type of music is essentially used in social events such as weddings, birthdays and engagements. Plethoras of songs are used on such occasions. Instruments like dholak, ektar, dotar, saringda and santur are used. Dance is accompanied with folk music. Bhangra of Punjab, Lavani of Maharashtra , Dandiya and Garba of Gujrat  are few more popular forms of dance-oriented folk music.

Movie Music

Movies are very popular with Indian people.large number of music lovers in India are fond of Indian film music. Some well-known playback singers in Indian movies  are Mohammed Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh and Asha Bhonsle.

Tribal Music
The tribal music is associated with the people living in the hilly and jungle regions. It is different from folk music, and shows tribal culture as it was even thousands of years ago. It is sung mainly in the tribal areas of Indian like Orissa and Chhatisgarh.