Tuesday, September 28, 2021
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History of Hindustani Music


Hindustani Music
Hindustani Music


Hey Guys, thank you for your great reviews on my last article based on the gharanas of our music, this article will be based on the history of hindustani music over the last thousand years. The origination of music cannot be linked with any specific time or period as origination of music is linked with the origination of man. Music is basically the sounds produced in the nature as told in my 1st article. Each note or the swara corresponds to a sound by any animal or any natural object. Evolution of music is categorised into 3 periods-

1-      Ancient Period (Ancient Period to 800 AD)

2-      Medieval Period (800 AD to 1800 AD)

3-      Modern Period (1800 AD to today)

Ancient Period

Birth of music is since the birth of mankind, so the starting of this period cannot be determined. This period is in turn divided into 3 more phases-

  • Vedic Period (Ancient period to 1000 BC)
  • Sandigdh Period (1000 BC to 1 AD)
  • Bharat Period (1 AD to 800 AD)

Vedic Period

This period is known as the Vedic period as all the Vedas (Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda) in the Hindu religion were originated during this time. The Samaveda was based on music. In those days there were only 3 swaras namely- Swarit, Uddaat and Anuddaat. Gradually these became 4, then 5 and now they are re-named and are 7 in number. The concept of Gram and Moorchhana was also explained in this phase. I’ll explain the concept of Gram and Moorchhana a bit later as it is quite technical. Some very ancient instruments like Conch, Lute, Flute, Trumpets and horns were also discovered during this period.

Sandigdh Period

This period was from 1000 BC to 1 AD. There was no contribution in the field of music in this period. Information about music was only found in some Upanishads.

Bharat Period

It is the most important phase in this period. In this many texts were found about music. Just like Raag singing is practised these days, Jaati singing was practised in those days. Also; 3 grams, 22 shrutis, 7 swaras, 18 Jaatis and 21 Moorchhanas were discovered. One of the most important books written in this phase was the Natya Shastra. This book is based on the classical dances of India. It talks about the relationship between Music and Dance of India.

Medieval Period

The earlier phase of this period was from 800 AD to 1300 AD. Classical music was at its peak from 9th Century till the 12th Century. Many landmark discoveries were made during this period like-

  1. Classification of Raagas into Male, female and other category.
  2. Classification of Raagas on the basis of texture, mood, time, season, etc.

Major contributions in the field of music were made by the Mughals who were ruling the major parts of India by this time.  Qawwali singing was practised extensively. The most influential musician of this time was Amir Khusrow. He is also known as the father of Modern Hindustani Music. He also introduced instruments such as Tabla. Dhrupad and Qawwali singing were practised at that time and then khyal singing was introduced.

The later phase of this period was from 13th century to 18th century which was a phase integration of Hindustani Music with that of Mughal and South Indian Music. This was the phase when the kings started to invite great singers in their courts for musical performances. The most famous kings who helped in promotion of music were Allaudin, Sultan Hussain Sharki of Jaunpur, Raja Mansingh Tomar of Gwalior, Emperor Akbar, Jahangir, Shahjahan, Mohd. Shah Rangeele, etc. etc.

Modern Period

This period saw the reign of the British govt. in India and thus English music took over and was liked by all. But still, emperors listened to court singers and Hindustani Music was still preferred by some. Many books were written in this period by scholars like Pt. Vishnu Digamber Paluskar, Pt. Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande and many others. Great contributions were made by Paluskar Ji and Bhatkhande Ji- like introducing a new system of writing music and classifying Raagas and Raginis into Thaats respectively. Music was composed for movies and plays. Concerts organised in India in places like- Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Allahabad, Indore, Lucknow, Kanpur, Gwalior, Varanasi, etc. New institutions were set up India- Delhi School of Music, Gandharva Mahavidyala, Prayag Sangeet Samiti Allahabad, School of Indian Music Bombay, Bhatkhande School of Music in Lucknow, etc. etc. Thus this period saw widespread of music throughout India.

Over the period of 1000 years Hindustani music has come a long way in terms of its popularity and its modernisation. Music nowadays is quite different from the one which was practised and performed earlier. Also, musicians are now treated with more respect and honour as compared to the yesteryears when they were looked down upon and were believed to be the backward class of the society.

Before ending this article I would like to ask all the readers to comment if they want me to write on anything specific in my next article. Apart from that, as written before also; I’ll explain a new Raag in my next article. Please do read, share and comment on this article.

Thank You

Shubham Mittal :-)



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