Indian Music & Sitar

Indian music has a history spanning millennia and developed over several eras. Music in India began as an integral part of socio-religious life and that Indian music is essentially melodic: sounds follow one another expressing an emotional state in an aesthetic unity.

Hindustani music is an Indian classical music tradition that goes back to Vedic times around 1000 BC. It further developed circa the 13th and 14th centuries AD with Persian influences and from existing religious and folk music. The practice of singing based on notes was popular even from the Vedic times where the hymns in Sama Veda, a sacred text, were sung as Samagana and not chanted. Developing a strong and diverse tradition over several centuries, it has contemporary traditions established primarily in India.

Indian classical music is principally based on melody and rhythm and based on the concept of Nava Rasa , or the "nine sentiments." Literally, rasa means "juice" or "extract" but here in this context, we take it to mean "emotion" or "sentiment." The acknowledged order of these sentiments is as follows: Shringara (romantic and erotic): Hasya (humorous): Karuna (pathetic): Raudra (anger): Veera (heroic): Bhayanaka (fearful): Vibhatsa (disgustful): Adbhuta (amazement): Shanta (peaceful). Each raga is principally dominated by one of these nine rasas.

In terms of aesthetics, a raga is the projection of the artist's inner spirit, a manifestation of his most profound sentiments and sensibilities brought forth through tones and melodies. Since Indian music is religious in origin, one finds the spiritual quality in most of the musician's performances.

The Sitar is a plucked instrument used mainly in Indian Classical music, is believed to have been derived from the veena, an ancient Indian instrument. Used widely throughout the Indian subcontinent, the sitar became known in the western world through the work of Pt. Ravi Shankar beginning in the late 1950s and early 1960. The sitar saw further use in popular music after The Beatles. Their use of the instrument came as a result of George Harrison's taking lessons on how to play it from Pt. Shankar.