Paragraphs on Indian Music!
The earliest treatise or music, drama and dance is Bharata’s Natyashastra. By the time this treatise was composed, India had a fully developed system of the arts.
Nada or sound is supposed to have been the very basis of creation.
There are references to music in the Rig-Veda and the Yajurveda, the Brahmanas and the Upanishads. The Jaiminiya Brahmana speaks of nritta and gata jointly. Sacred singing formed an intrinsic part of all later Vedic sacrifices. A special priest sang the hymns of the Rig-Veda, and such hymns that were sung constitute the Samaveda. (Saman means music).
At first the Saman recital had only three notes, gradually the fourth and the fifth came to be employed, and occasionally sixth and seventh notes too appeared. All later music is considered to have developed from the Saman. The science of music called Gandharva Veda is an upaveda of the Samaveda.
Development of music commenced with the folk idiom evolving in consonance with regional ingenuity, and slowly blossoming into classical forms. Passages in the Ramayana point to the existence of minstrels, itinerant as well as attached to royal courts, who preserved heroic rhapsodies, ballads and epics which they sang to the accompaniment of the vim.
The basic scale (grama) of Indian music is heptatonic and it has seven notes or svara—sadja, rishabha, gandhara, madhyama, panchama, dhaivata, nishada, which are abbreviated as sa, ri, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni. These correspond approximately to the notes of the European major scale.
They may be elaborated with half-tones of varying intervals classified according to the number of srutis they contain. The sruti is a theoretical interval of which the scale contains 22. There were eighteen melodic modes called jatis which gradually gave place to the more specific ragas—a noteworthy change which has since remained the main characteristic of Indian music.
The concept and practice of raga, according to scholars matured, by the fifth century AD. Raga is a series of five or more notes, upon which a melody is based. Ragas were recognised, named on the basis of several factors, classified and defined. Matanga’s Brihaddesi deals with these aspects.
Talas are rhythmic cycles. They have a universal unity, besides being quite complicated. The fundamental units of the Indian rhythmic structure are thisra (three), chatusra (four), klianda (five), misra (seven) and sankeertana (nine).
There is a complex range from the simple 2/4 time (adi tala) and 3/4 (rupaka) to the fourteen units of at a tala. These rhythms ornamented with grace notes and varied by syncopation result in a remarkably complex rhythmic structure. Bharata mentions 32 talas but there are now over 120, formed by different combinations.