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Music of India

The music of India is a mosaic of different genres and levels of sophistication. At one extreme, classical music is performed in the urban concert halls for purely artistic reasons, and at the other, many kinds of functional rural music accompany life-cycle and agricultural rites. In between are many other musical genres of different regions of the country, reflecting the diversity of its peoples. The origins of classical music can be traced to the Natya Shastra, a Sanskrit treatise on drama, which encompasses music as well. Two classical traditions are now recognized; Hindustani in north India and Carnatic (or Karnatak) in the south. Both traditions have inspiration from the bhakti ("devotional") movements modified by the princely courts. The two traditions share basic musical features but differ in many details, so that followers of one often find the other not pleasing. Both systems consist of un-harmonized melody; a drone (one or more notes sustained against a melody); and the melody line, which may either be composed in advance or improvised. It based on one of several hundred traditional melody matrices called raga . These consist of scales, ascending and descending movements, strong and weak notes, and characteristic phrases. Emotional connotations of individual ragas, associating them with moods, performance times, colors, deities, and so on are great influences on the ragas. A raga can be performed both in free time and in measured time. In free time, the melodic features of a raga are explored gradually in their natural rhythm or flow. In measured time, one of several possible measures, called talas, is used. A tala consists of a repeating number of time units that form a cyclical pattern; within this cycle, specific points receive different degrees of stress. Tala thus involves both a numeric element and an accent or stress element. Many complex talas exist, but those ranging from 6 to 16 units are most common. In the Hind...

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