Indian Music


Music in India has had a long tradition. Not much can be said about the music of the Indus valley civilization period.  The Vedic period developed what is collectively known as Sama music.  Sama music relied on hymns taken from the Rigveda.  Further, running parallel to the ritualistic samamusic, were the narashamshigathas, i.e., songs of the common men (folk music).

However, the earliest tratise on music, drama and dance is Bharata’s Natya Sastra, which shows that India had fully developed these arts by the time it was composed.  Numerous, other texts, composed after that of Bharata’s Natya Sastra, such as Brihaddeshi by Matanga, Bharatabhashya by Nanyadeva and Sangitratnakara by Sharangadeva are comprehensive work on music.  In India, the arts have been classified into two – margi  and desi that can be roughly translated as classical and folk.


Basics of Indian music


The basic concept of Indian music (Hindustani andCarnatic) is Raga (meaning melody). Raga India’s contribution to world musicology.  Raga, is a basic note pattern formed by selecting ntoes from the thirteen tonal intervals conventionally established in the octave space.

Ragas are made of different combinations of Sapta (Seven) Swaras: Sa (Sadjam), Ri (Rishabam), Ga (Gaandhaaram), Ma (Madhyamam), Pa (Panchamam), Dha (Dhaivadam), Ni (Nishadham).However, it is not necessary that all the seven swaras (notes) are present in a raga.  Yaman in Hindustani and its Carnatic counterpart Mecha Kalyani have all the seven swaras both in the ascending and descending order.  However, it is acknowledged that a minimum of five notes are compulsory in the formation of a raga.  The irrepressible music maestro Dr. M. Balamurali Krishna questioned this and composed a raga with just four notes.

What makes Indian classical music unique is its adherence to permutations and combinations of swaras.  In Western classical Piano one octave consists of twelve notes whereas in Indian music the same octave contains 22 (srutis) notes.

The twenty two Srutis Are Called Siddha, Prabhavati, Kantha, Suprabha, Shikha, Diptimati, Ugra, Hladi, Nirviri, Dira, Sarphara, Kshanti, Hridayonmulini, Visarini, Prasuna, Vibhuti, Malini, Chapala, Vala, Sarvaratna, Sitantaj And Vikalini.

Swara is generally defined as a note whereas sruti constitutes the microtonal intervals between two swaras.  The nuances of these can be best understood in prayoga (practice) rather than theory.

The principal ragas are 6 namely, Raga Bharavi, Raga Sree, Raga Depaka, Raga Megha, Raga Hindola and Raga Malkaunsa and their offshoots, known as ragapatnis (ragins) and ragaputras, vary from 84 to 108.  Each raga or its offshoots has the capacity of invoking one human emotion or the other.

  • Raga Bharavi: The Lord or ragas is supposed to have emanated from the throat of Shiva and sung prior to dawn for invoking vitality.
  • Raga Vilavals: Bhairavi’s regaputra, it represents, charm, gaiety, fortune and longing for love.
  • Sriraga: a ragini of Raga Sree, was considered to have emanated from the sound of warriors’ swords and the twang of their bows and arrows. But later it was associated with romance blended with chivalry.  Rajasthan’s famous love lore ‘Dhola Maru’ now symbolizes this ragini.
  • Raga Dipaka: Now rarely sung, once said to possess the miraculous power of invoking light and heat which could consume even its singer. It is said to have emanated from the eye of the Sun.  dipakas (lamps) and fire which symbolize it are invariably used for visualizing the raga.  The time suited for this raga is summer evening.
  • Raga Todi: A melody of unhappy love, loneliness and a detached attitude towards life.
  • Raga Megha: as its name indicates, is a melody of clouds and rains.
  • Ragini Vibhasa: A ragini of raga megha, represents unending dalliance such as only Kamdeva and Rati enjoyed.
  • Raga Hindola: A melody sung to celebrate the festivity o swing and ‘Sravan’.  It is named after the Hondola used for young couple for enjoying the season.
  • Ragini Madhumadhavi: The ragini of Hindola, represents the blooming of flowers during spring.
  • Raga malkaunsa: A raga of great depth, sung after midnight, relates to riches, royal grandeur and youthful love. It is said to have emanated from Vishnu’s throat.
  • Ragini Gauri: The ragini of Malkaunsa is a melody of devotion in love.



It is the second concept of Indian music, especially classical music.  Raga & tala taken together, go a long way in distinguishing Indian music from other systems of the world.  Of the two major dimensions of music, the melodic and rhythmic, the former is expressed through musical notes (raga) while the latter chiefly explores the dimension of time through beats (tala).

The term tala is derived from Sanskrit word tal, to strike with palms.  Tala is a time measure which marks rhythm.  It is an arrangement of beats in cylindrical manner.  Whether in vocal music or instrumental musictala plays a creative and organic part in bringing out the essence and elevating the musical expressions to new dimensions.  The major talas are:Aadi tala a  cycle of eight maathras (beats).Chautal or Eaka consisting of twelve maatharas, Jhaptal consisting of twelve maatharas, Jhaptal consisting of ten maathras, Roopak tala of seven maathras, and Teen tala of sixteen maathras.



The third concept of Indian music, bandish is loosely translatable as composition.  In Hindi, it means binding together, which a fairly correct description of function carried out by a bandish. Usually, the term is used to refer to the basic compositions employed by vocalists to launch their musical elaborations.




Streams of Indian classical music

There are two major streams of Indian classical music: Hindustani and Carnatic. Through today they appear to be quite distinct styles, they in fact have their origins in a common theory and source as is reflected from ancient treatise.

Hindustani music: Prevalent  in north India, is a mixture of Indian and Persian musical systems.  Other features of this music are: it is emotional and is associated with emergence of gharanas.  Some famous vocalists of Hindustani music are: Gangubhai Hangal, Bhimsen Joshi, ishori Amronkar, Pt. Jasraj, Mallikarjun Mansur etc.

Carnatic music: Music of south India it is totally indigenous and canonized, has intellectual and spiritual basis (distinct from gharanas).  Carnatic music is a single unitary system with a  common and accepted lakshan for its ragas, talas and musical forms.  Raga is the very soul of carnatic music.  Thyagaraja, Muthuswami Deekshithar and Shyama Shastri, popularly known as the trinity of Carnaticmusic, laid the foundation for the development of Carnaticmusic with their innumerable compositions in hundreds of ragas.  These compositions paved way for the present concept of a stage programme.

Some famous vocalists of Carnaticmusic are Shemmangudi R. Srinivasa Iyer, M.S. Subhulakshmi, D.K. Pattammal, Palghat K.V. Narayanaswami.

Raga’s relation to mood, time & season
Ragas Mood Season Time
1. Hindola Sweetness March-April (Spring) Dawn
2. Sri Raga Gladness Nov-Dec (Autumn) Evening
3.  Megha Courage July-Aug (rainy) Mid-way
4. Deepak Compassion May-June(Summer) Evening
5. Bharavi Peace Sept. – Oct. Morning
6. Malkaunsa Relaxation Jan-Feb (Winter) Midnight
7. Darbari Meditative Dec-Jan Midnight
8. Bageshwari Romantic Midnight
9. Bahar Joy March-April (Spring)
Raga-time association

1. Morning Ragas: Raga Jaunpuri, Raga Bilaskhani, Todi Lalit, Bhairavi, Ahir Bhairva, Milan Ki Todi, Vibhasa, Bhatiyar, Sudh Sarang

2. Afternoon Ragas: Raga Brindabani Sarang, Madhmad Sarang, Dhani, Multani Pilu, Sughrai, Bhimpalas, Mand, Patdeep.

3. Evening Ragas: Pooriya, Shyam Kalyan, Suddh Kalyan, Nand, Yaman, Shankar, Marwa, Shree, Hamsadhwani.

4. Night Ragas: Durga, Kedar, Kanhara Darbari, Desh Jhinjhoti, Suddh Nat, Maru Bihag, Jaijaiwanti, Malkaunsa, Hamir, Kamod, Bageshwari.




Distinctive features of Hindustani &Carnaticmusic

Distinctive features are used in the two systems of music for interpretation and actual rendering of ragas, which results in various sound pictures.  In Hindustani music, an instrument follows in the alaap with a faster movement called jod, which has no tala. Jod is succeeded by jhala, which again is devoid of tala. In Carnaticmusic an alapana is followed by a tanam.  While free of tala, it is faster than alapana and resembles, in a way, the jod of Hindustani instrumental music.

The Carnatic music follows the old tradition in its nomenclature, division and structure, but the Hindustani tala system uses a different terminology.  The internal division of the talas is also different in the two musicsystems.

Also, the manner of interpretation and the shift of emphasis from structural bondage to free improvisation in Hindustani music is one of the main differences between the two.  This was followed by a host of ancillary changes in alapa and tala, which resulted in two almost separate systems of music.

While the names of the ragas remained common to the North and the South, the corresponding content varied in each case; in the intonation of notes and the execution of graces (gamakas) stylistic divergence arose, so, to in the method of elaborating and expounding a raga.

Again, unlike the Carnatic music, the Hindustani school began to observe strictly a time theory of ragas, but it is so overdone as to impose limitations on concert programmes.  Besides, the ragas came to be classified in different ways in the two systems: the North took six  ragas as primary and also arranged them on the analogy of family relationship – husband, wife, sons and daughters.

In fact, the difference that we notice today between the two systems is because of different methods employed in pronouncing the swara. In the north the swaras are comparatively long and pronounced with pauses, while in the South such pauses are less or negligibly marked.

Both schools survive mainly through an oral tradition passed on by the teacher to the disciple.  Even though clearly distinctive, Hindustani and Carnatic music have several common features.

Open and closed type music

There two broad categories of musical forms in Indian music:

  • The Open (anibandha) music: It is ancient and most important of this type is the Here the raga is developed and elaborated slowly, note by note, phrase y phrase.
  • The Closed (Nibandha) music: This music is one in which there are meaningful words or set tunes to definite rhythm.


Hindustanimusical forms


The oldest vocal style of Indian classical music which  traces its origin as far back as the Sama Veda.  From the chanting of Om, which is the sacred syllable and source of all creation, evolved the rhythmic chanting of Vedic scriptures.  This developed in the chhanda and prabandha  in which verse and metre were introduced.  From the fusion of these two elements emerged Dhrupad.

Inspite of traces of earlier existence, the Dhrupad made its presence felt from the 15th century A.D.It was patronized by Raja Mansingh Tomar of Gwalior and Emperor Akbar.  The main exponents of that time were Swami Haridas, Tansen, Baiju Bawra and Gopal.

Traditional dhrupad composition is a prayer sung to the accompaniment of pakhawaj.

Dhrupad ahs four distinct vanis of Gharanas such as Gudiya Goarhar, Khandar, Dagar and Nauhar.  However, the Dhrupad fundamentalist position that all other forms of classical music such as Khayal etc. are vicious aberration is unsustainable.



The first and primary connotation of the term dhamar is a tala of fourteen beats played chiefly on the pakhawaj.  However, it is also the name of a form sung after rendering a dhrupad.  The composition is sung in a style similar to dhrupad but is always set to tala dhamar, characterized by a quicker and inherently sensuous movement.  Further, the content of the composition might be a description of the famous Indian festival of colours, Holi, in which case the composition is called Hori.  Evenotherwise, the content is likely to be secular and a mild eroticism is not excluded.  The intention behind coupling dhamar with dhrupad is to bring together two forms which may complement each other and, hence, ensure wider musical appeal.  It is very often seen that dhrupad-dhamar is presented on instruments such as the veena.



The form can succinctly be described as a dhrupad in tala jhaptal of ten beats.  According to the lore, two brother Shivmohan and Shivnath, followed the style of Baiju Bawra to compose the songs described as sadras.  As they hailed from Shahadras, the form is said to derive its name from the place.


Langda Dhrupad

As the name indicates, compositions in the form are ‘lame’  dhrupads.  It tries to avoid the extreme rigidity of dhrupad as also the extreme flexibility of khayal.  The most noticeable feature of the form is that the words do not strictly follow the tala-beas, through the tendency is to  indicate the main divisions of the tala concerned.  The genre is also known as munda dhrupad, that is, one with an uncovered head.



Khayal emerged from the 13th and 14th centuries.  This word of Persian origin means imagination.  This style gave an entirely new dimension to Hindustani classical music tradition.  Amir Khusro is considered the proponent of this style.  This could be called the dominant from of contemporary art music.  Niyamat Khan ‘Sadrang’ is given the credit for making it an art of high order in present items.  So rich is the basic format of khayal that it has made room for number of styles.

There are four schools or gharanas of Khayal: 1) The Gwalior gharana is the oldest and most comprehensive in technique.  Natthan Khan and Peer Baksh are among its doyens 2) The Agra gharana was founded by Hazi Suijan Khan. Faiyyaz Khan gave it a new and pleasant lyrical colour, which merited for it’s the sobriquet of Rangeela Gharana. 3) The Jaipur gharana is associated with Alladiya Khan. 4) The Kirana gharana was developed mainly by Abdul Wahid Khan and Abdul Karim Khan.



In Persian, numa means ‘according to’.  Hence, Khayalnuma means according to Khayal.  This form indicates compositions which consist of meaningless words/sound-syllables in place of the meaningful words of a Khayal.  However, in other respects it is similar to a Khayal.



Tarana mainly relies on meaningless words/sound-syllables.  Sound produced are imitation of Arabic and Persian words.  The form consists of sound-syllables used to describe sounds produced by string instruments or drums to create a composition in a raga.  The tempo is generally medium or fast.  The form is  not restrited to any particular raga or tala.  Tradition credits Amir Khusro (1253-1325) with having invented the form.  He is said to have combined Farsi Rubai and sounds without meaning.  It may be recalled that in India there has been a long tradition to use meaningless sounds in music.



Yet another from which consists of meaningless words/sounds is known as trivet.  It is a composition set in a raga and tala but consisting of the syllables of pakhawaj.  The sonorous bols of the drum and the fast tempo of the composition are quite captivating.



A form in whichbols from the kathak dance are used for compositions in raga and tala is known as ras.



The rich array of forms ahs one which tries to pack in all the attractive features.  Known as chaturanga (literally meaning ‘four aspects’), it has  the sthayi and antara couched in meaningful words to be followed by two parts, one of which consists of sitar/drum sounds and the other of the shorter names of the musical notes.

It can be seen that khayalnuma, tarana, trivet, ras and chaturangu have one feature in common  – the use of meaningless sound-syllables in place of words.



A composition conceived entirely in terms of the names of notes used in a particular raga and tala is known as sargamgeet.


Jayadeva, a sain-poet from medieval Bengal composed the trendsetting dance-drama Geetgovinda.  In it, he employed a poetic form, the ashtapadi, consisting of eight lines.  The form was brought back into musical circulation by musicians from Gwalior in the early nineteenth century, but only a vocal genre.  Ashtapadis are set in ragas, and talas, and their special feature, of course, the lilting language of the poet Jayadeva and the inherent dignified but often sensuous eroticism of his compositions.



Once again we get a form which combines two independent forms.  Tapkhyal is a khayalwhich has the features of a khayal as well as those of a form of semi-art music called tappa.



The term is derived from Hindi verb thumakna, meaning ‘to walk with dancing steps so as to make the ankle-bells tinkle’.  Thumri is, thus, connected with dance, dramatic gestures, mild eroticism, evocative love poetry and folk songs of UP, though there are regional variations.

Though there are earlier references to singers of thumri, generally Wajid Ali Shah of Lucknow is given the credit for having an encouraging attitude towards the form.

Three basic types of thumri are: 1) Lachau – characterized by movements approximating dance; 2) Punjabi – sung in expansive tala of same name, it is similar to Khayal but steeped in an evocative mood; 3) Badishki – sung in fast tempo this type has greater word density.

Main gharanas of thumri are: 1) Benaras gharana – dignified in movement, expansive in treatment controlled in emotional utterance; 2) Lucknow gharana – Decorative and more explicit in expressing emotion, has close ties with dance and shows affinity with ghazal; 3) Punjab gharana (or Patiala gharana) flashy but highly moving, less expansive and displays parallels to the tappa.



A form of music in dadra tala.  In other respects, the form resembles thumri.  It is, therefore, logical that this form should always be coupled with thumri in performing tradition.


Kajri / Kajli

In its original form and context, it is a folk song sung by women of UP and adjacent regions.  Kajri is sung by women throughout the night on the third day of second half of Bhadrapad (August) to the accompaniment of folk dance.   In concerts the form has found a place along with chaiti, yet another form of seasonal music.  However, as a form of popular musickajri  has developed a variety which is more formalized and deliberately processed.  The variety is and deliberately processed.  The variety is mentioned here only because the music used in the form hs affected the concert-version.



Musical forms & Associated singers

Dhrupad & Dhamar : Nasir Moinuddin Dagar, Nasir Aminuddin Dagar

Khayal : Mushtaq Hussain Khan, Faiyaz Khan, Gauhar Jan.

Tarana: Mogubai Kurdikar

Tappa: Padit Krishnarao Shankar, Siddeshwari Devi

Thumri: Rasoolan Bai, Siddeshwari Devi, Gauhar Jan

Dadra: Siddeshwari Devi

Rajri, Chaiti, Hori : Rasoolan Bai

Sawan: Begum Akhtar

Bhajan: Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Omkar Nath Thakur

Qawali: Iqbal, Affzal and Sabri, Azad Yusuf Qawaal.


The form is a class of songs sung during the rainy season, and to that extent is closely linked witht eh concept of seasonal music.  However, sawan compositions differ from kajris in that, they are parts of the traditional repertoire of art musicians.  The theme of separation from the lover finds conventional treatment.  Sawan songs sung while sitting on a swing are known as sawan hindola.



Folk songs of Uttar Pradesh and adjacent areas, sung during the month of Chaitra (march) are called chaitis.  Thus, the genre belongs to the category of seasonal music.  Special constructional features include poetic lines beginning witht eh word Rama and ending with Ho Rama.  Chaiti follows musical strategies developed by thumri.



This form has been inspired by the folk songs of camel – drivers in the Punjab area.  Couched in Punjabi and Pushtu languages and set in ragas generally used for other lighter vocal music such as thumri, the tappa is characterized by jumpy, flashy and quick tonal movements.



The genre originated as a song in praise of god with the lyrics relying onsayings or aphorisms from the Holy Koran.  The genre was also associated with kalbana which enjoyed similar structure and intent.  Later, the qawwali came to include compositions in Persian.

In India, the form stabilized around the thirteenth century and the sufis enlisted it for propagation of their doctrine.  Amir Khusro, a sufipoet-musician is credited with introducing many new features in the genre and for popularizing it.  A disputed tradition holds that khayal, the dominant vocal form in art music, can be traced to the early qawwali singer.

A qawwali performance is a fascinating example of their interchanging functions of solo and choral singing.  Usually sung by a party, and two parties if the competitive element is involved,  one or two of the signers are the main artists while others provide support – in the melodic aspect by repeating the refrain, and in the rhythmic aspect by highly efficient clapping.


The term originally meant ‘a love-song in Persian’. Later, Urdu literary tradition, while deriving inspiration from the Persian sources, extended the thematic range and admitted other subjects. From the beginning of the tradition the love of god was interwoven as a strand of the thematic fabric, considerably and qualitatively strengthened by the sufis who took to ghazal as a form of expression.  In India, the sufis registered an early presence, near about the early ninth century, a point to be remembered when the Indianness of the form is discussed.

On account of the metrical conventions and other norms governing the structuring of material, the genre puts considerable limits on the talas which could be used without distorting the poetic lines and their movements.  famous poets of ghazals are: Bahadur Shah Zafar, Mirza Galib, Mir Taqi Mir, Zauq, Momin, Iqbal, Faiz Firaq Gorakhpuri.



Like ode in English poetry, a nazm is a poem with irregular metres where the idea put forth is more important than the rhythm.  It is, therefore, considered the most powerful form of Urdu poetry.



It is term of abuse in Urdu poetry and refers to poems composed in blind praise of the patrons.  This style declined after independence as the princely states disappeared.


Carnatic musical forms

Padam and Javali

Padam and Javali are Carnatic music forms.  They are analogous to thumri and tappa in Hindustanimusic.  Padams are slower and cover more serious themes, and are allegoric i.e., love-life sung in human terms really refers to yearning of the human mind for the God.  The greatest of such songs are the Sanskrit astapadi of Jayadeva (12th century) and Telugu padams of Kshetrayya (17the century). Javalis are love lyrics sung to suitable ragas.  They are direct descriptions of human love.



Otilana is the carnatic counterpart of the tarana of Hindustanimusic.  Besides being sung in the later part of a concert, it invariably is an item in repertoire of a dancer.



This is an experimental form of music developed over the past two decades by musicians of the Hindustani and Carnatic styles.  The moving spirits behind the experiment have been Bhimsen Joshi (vocal – Hindustani), Balamurli Krishna (vocal-Carnatic), Lalgudi Jayaram (violin-Carnatic) and Amjad Ali Khan (sarod-Hindustani).


Devotional music

In the wake of the Bhakti movement devotional music came into existence due to the confluence of folk and classical music.  Its major forms in North India are bhajans, keertans of Bengal  and adhanga of Maharashtra.

The subject of bhajan is praise of Lord.  Some of the greatest bhajans were written by Kabir, Nanak, Surdas, and Meera.

Keertan of Bengal derives its inspiration from the Gita Govinda of Jayadeva.  Keertan involves both song and dance and was popularized by Chaitanya (15th – 16th century).

The abhangas of saints Eknath (16th century), Janaeswar (13thcentury), Tukaram (16-17thcentury) are very popular.

In the south India, earliest known hymns were the Tevarams composed by Tirujnana Sambandar, Tirunavu  Kharasu and Sundaramurthy Nayanar and sung by a class of singers known as oduyars and others.  The other devotional music compositions of south India are Tiraativachakam of Munikkavachagar, Tiruppugazh of Arunagirinatha.  Some of the south Indian Keertana singers were Bhadrachala Ramdas, Thyagaraja (his famous keertanas are uthsav Sampradaya and divya nama keerttana, Tallapakkam brothers.


Musical instruments of India

Music is firmly interwoven with India’s social fabric and no social or religious assembly is complete without it.  A few instruments are considered specially auspicious.

India has evolved and developed an unrivalled variety of musical instruments, which is not surprising given that its civilization goes back to Vedic times.  There are references in the Vedas to the veena played by Saraswati, Krishna’s flute, and Shiva’s damaru.  All these instruments have stood the test of time and are relevant even today.  Marginal changes have been made, but only in a few instruments.

The adaptation of Guitar to Hindustani Music by Viswa Mohan Bhatt and similar adaptation of saxophone by Kadri Gopinath deserve appreciation.


Classification of Instruments

The age-old classification of instruments adequately serves the purpose of explaining the nature of Indian musical instruments. Instruments are traditionally classified according to their major and active sound producing agents.  The four identified classes are:

1) Tata vadya or Stringed instruments: The earliest stringed instruments of India were harps-bow shaped with varying number of strings made of either gut or fibre.  The better known instruments are sitar, veena, sarod, sarangi, santoor etc.

2) Ghana Vadya or Idiophones or Solid Bodied Instruments: Perhaps the earliest of instruments, have remained comparatively undeveloped even to this day.  They are more rhythgm beaters, suitable for folk music and dance.  Example pots and pans, bell and jingles, rods and sticks etc.

In art (classical) music, however, there are two popular instruments of this type: ghatam and jaltarang.

3) Sushira Vadya or Hollow Aeroplane wind Instruments: These instruments are hollow tubes, with or without appendages, in whichsound is produced by the vibration of air columns.  E.g. flute, shehnai, nadaswaram etc.

4) Avanatha Vadya or Membrane Covered Instruments: These include drums – hollowed instruments covered with skin.  E.g. mridangam, table, khol, nagara etc.


Wind Instruments (Sushira)

Nadaswaram : The most auspicious instrument, it is a must in temples and at all religious and social function.  It is double reeded, and has a wooden tubular body fitted with a large wooden bellow at the lower end.  On the side are eight finger holes and four vent holes.  The sound emanates from a wooden double reed inserted at the upper end.  Essentially an open air instrument, it has in recent times been muffled to be used in concerts.

Flute: Made of seasoned bamboo, it is reedless, with one end closed and the other having the blow-hole.  On the side are eight finger holes.  It is held horizontally.

Bansuri: In construction it is like the Carnatic flute, but much longer.

Shehnai : Double reeded, tubular, gradually widening towards the outer end, with a metal funnel.  It has eight holes but only the upper seven are used.  The eighth is for regulating the pitch by applying wax.

Surnai : It is prevalent in Himachal Pradesh.  Conically bored, it has an integrated bellows.  It has seven finger holes and one thumb hole at the rear.

Mohuri : From Madhya Pradesh.  Also of conical bore with bellows and seven finger holes.  A bunch of hair fixed  in front of the bellows helps to mellow down its shrill sound besides being a decoration.  Mohuri is used as an accompaniment in community dances.

Karna (Rajasthan):  A straight brass traumpet with a conical bore.  It has a wide funnel-shaped opening at the end.  Played at social ceremonies and community dances.

Khung (Manipuri): Its small ball-shaped gourd serves as the air chamber; a protruding nozzle fitted with a bamboo serves as the blow-pipe.  Six bamboo tubes having small holes at the sides are fixed on the upper side of the gourd in two rows.  At the end of each tube is a beating reed.  Khung is an accompaniment for tribal dances in North-eastern India.

Singa (Orissa and Madhya Pradesh): Made of natural horn. The horn tip is sawn and fitted with a small mouthpiece.  Makes a loud sound.

Pungi (Rajasthan): A snake charmer’s flute, it combines two bamboo flutes, each with a single beating reed and finger holes bored into the lower end of the air chamber.  It has a sonorous and hypnotizing sound.


Membrane Covered Drams (Avanadha)

Mridangam: The Nobel laureate, Dr. C.V. Raman established by research that on the percussion side the mridangam is the most perfect and sophisticated instrument.  Its right wing has three strata: a thick layer of buffalo hide, a thin inset of calf leather and black paste for tonal embellishment.  The left wing, made of buffalo hide, is coated with flour paste for the purpose of mellowing to ensure vibration.

Khunjira: Shaped like a broad bangle, it varies from six to ten inches in diameter.  One side is open, and the playing side is covered with hide.  The bangle has brass jingles for occasional use.

Edakka (Kerala): Slung on the left shoulder.  The right face is struck with a stick.  The left hand controls the tension on the parchment by varying the pressure on the tape wound round the centre.  It accompanies Kathakali and other dances of Kerala.

Chenda (Kerala): A cylindrical drum made out of a single block of wood and covered with thick parchment held by leatherstraps.  It is vertically slung from the waist and struck with two sticks.  An essential accompaniment for Kathakali.

Thaval (Tamil Nadu): It tapers on both sides.  The right side face is played by hand and the left with a drum stick.  It is capable of the most intricate patterns.

Tabla: The most popular instrument and a must in music and dance.  Made out of seasoned walnut wood, it is covered with parchment with a permanent black paste at the centre.  The ‘hayan’, meaning the left wing, is also covered with parchment and black paste slightly off centre.  It is fastened with leather braces.

Pakhawaj: A two-faced barrel drum with shell made of hollowed wood, it is similar in construction to mridangam.  A must for Dhrupad music.

Stringed Instruments (Tata)

Tambura: Made of jackwood, often beautifully carved and even ornamented with ivory, the tambura helps to provide the drone.  The strings are plucked by fingers and the vibrations are brought out by inserting a thin silk thread on the spring board.

Veena: A highly developed stringed instrument.

Gottuvadhyam: Same as the veena except that it has no frets.  Legend has it that Lord Ganesha was its originator.  Vibrations are harnessed by a cylindrical piece of horn or wood.  It is used mostly as a solo instrument.  As it has no frets, its playing is very difficult as a single slip in pressure would cause musical havoc. Its practitioners can be counted on fingers.

Tanpura: Same as the South Indian Tambura, but there are variations.  Some tanpuras have huge bellies made of gourd.  Again, while the tambura has only four strings, some tanpuras have four to five.

Sitar: A fretted instrument, it was reputedly brought to India by Amir Khusro.    It is held diagonally.  The gourd serves as the resonator.  It consists of seven strings and eleven to twelve sympathetic strings for ensuring residuary vibrations.  It has now become internationally famous owing to its portability and maneuverability.

Sarod : Another plucked instrument of classical order.  The body is made of wood and the finger board fretless and chromium coated metal plate to facilitate gliding of the fingers.  As in the sitar, there are six main strings and twelve sympathetic strings.  It has gained international popularity.

Sarangi : A fretless bowed instrument of classical order  played solo or as accompaniment.  There are three main gut strings and a number of sympathetic strings made of steel.  A very wayward instrument as it is fretless and in inexpert hands will turn music into cacophony.  As its sound approximates the human voice, it is an ideal instrument for vocal concerts.

Santoor : Fitted with innumerable strings, the santoor is played with wooden stringers, with the instrument laid flat.  It is very difficult to coax gamakas out of it but some experts have devised an ingenious method by which they make it yield gamakas by tapping residuary vibrations.  Practitioners are few in view of the limited musical resources of the instrument.

Rabab (Jammu and Kashmir):  It is a plucked stringed instrument with a wooden sound box.  There are three turning pegs on each side.  It has five main strings, three of gut  and two of steel.  There are also eleven sympathetic steel strings tied to the pegs.  The strings are plucked with a wooden plectrum.  It has a covered neck and a notched bone bridge.

Kamaicha (Rajasthan):  Made out of a single block of wood with an integrated peg box, finger board and resonator.  There are three main strings of gut and a number of sympathetic strings on the side.  It is played with a long curved bow made of wood and horse-hair.

Ravan Hatha (Rajasthan): Reputedly the ancestor of violin and resembles the latter in structure.  It is bored:  the reasonator is made of coconut shell and is elongated.  It has two main strings of horse-hair with sympathetic strings of steel.  The bow sticks are also of horse-hair with jingle bells at the top.  Used mostly by touring balled singers.

Dilruba : A fretted instrument played with a bow.  It is turned with the help of pegs placed on the top right of the instrument.

Famous musicinstruments &instrumentalists

Sitar : Pr. Ravi Shankar, Ustad Vilayat Khan, Manilal Nag, Shahid Parvez, Shujaat Khan, Jaya Biswas, Debu Choudhary, Nishant Khan, Shashi Mohan, Nikhil Banerjee etc.

Sarod: Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Ustad Alauddin Khan, Ashok Kumar Rai, Chandan Rai etc.

Shehnai: Istad Bismillah Khan, Hari Singh, Shailesh Bhagwat, Jaganath, Bholanath Prasanna etc.

Santoor: Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma, Bhajan Sopari, Tarun Bhattacharya etc.

Veena: S Balachandran, Doraiswamy Iyengar, Kalyan Krishna Bhagvatar,  Ramesh Prem, Gopal Krishna, Asad Ali, Etc.

Sarangi: Pt. Ramnarayanji, Bundu Khan, Aruna Kale, Santosh Mishra, Indralal, Sawari Khan, Ashiq Ali Khan, Bazeer Khan, Ramzan Khan etc.

Guitar: Vishwa Mohan, Bhatt, Brijbhushan Kabra, Srikrishna Nalin, Keshav Talegaonkar

Violin: T Smt. N. Rajam, Vishnu Govind Jog, Shishir Choudhary, T.N. Krishna, Lalgudi Jayaraman, R.P. Shastri, Satyadev Pawar, L. Subramanyam, Govind Swami Pillai, Balamurali Krishnan, etc.

Mandolin: U. Srinivas, Khagen Dey, Nagen Dey

Bansuri: Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pannalal Ghosh, Raghunath Seth, Prakash Vadhera, Vijay Raghav Rai, Prakash Saxena, Rajendra Prasanna etc.

Flute(carnatic): T.R. Mahalingam

Rudra Veena: Asad Ali Khan, Zia Moinuddin Dagar, etc.

Vichitra Veena: Ahmad Raza Khan, Abdul Aziz Khan, etc.

Piano : V. Balsara

Nadaswaram: Sheik Chinna Maulana, Namagiripettai Krishnan, Neeru Swamy Pillai, etc.

Tabla: Allah Rakha, Zakir Hussain, Ustad Shafat Ahmad Khan, Latif Khan, Sheikh Dawood, Fazal mridangamT.K. Moorthy, Umayalpuram K. Sivaram, Palghat Raju, Karaikudi R. Mani

Mridangam: T.K. Moorthy, Umayalpuram K. Sivaram, Palghat Raju, Karaikudi R. Mani.

Ghatam: T.H. Vijayakaram

Kanjira: G. Harishankar

Pakhawaj: Arun Sejwal, Gopal Das, Chatrapati Singh, Ramakant Pathak

Harmonium: Jhan Prakash Ghosh, Shri Purushottam Walawalkar, Appa Jalgaonkar

Jaltaran: Himanshu Biswas, Jagdish Mohan, Ghasiram Nirmal

Mridang: Paldhar Raghu

Surbahar: Imrat Khan, Annapurna Devi


Solid Bodied Instrument (Ghana)

Ghatam: An earthen pot with a small mouth and a big belly, made of burnt clay.  The fingers and palms are used for play on the body of the pot; its mouth is pressed against the belly of the artiste and released after every stroke

Jaltarang: A set of water filled porcelain cups struck with bamboo sticks.


The term gharana is derived from the Hindi word ghar traceable to Sanskrit word griha meaning family or house.  Not long before, performing arts, as also many other crafts in India, were carried on as family-traditions passed on from father to son for many generations.  Now these arts continue to survive mainly through an oral tradition (Guru-Sishya Parampara)  being passed on by the teacher to the disciple and this has led to the establishment of family tradition called the gharanas.  At one point, gharanas suggested places of origin of hereditary musicians.  Therefore, even today many of gharana names refer to places.

Gharanas & Associated Classical Singers

Gwalior Gharana (oldest & most comprehensive gharana) : Pt Krishnarao Shankar, Mushtaq Hussain Khan, Pt. Mallikarjun Mansur
Agra Gharnana : Faiyan Khan, Latafat Hussain Khan, Sharafat Hussain Khan,
Jaipur Gharana : Mallikarjun Mansur, Rajab Ali Khan, Kishori Amonkar
Patiala : Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Khan,
Patiala Gharnana : Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Nazakat Ali and Salamat Ali
Benaras Gharnana : Siddeshwari Devi
Kirana Gharnana : Abdul Karim Khan, Abdul Wahid Khan, Gangubai Hangal, Bhimsen Joshi
Rampur Gharnana : Nissar Hussain Khan, Ghulam Mustafa Khan
Lucknow Gharnana : Begum Akhtar
Sahaswan Gharnana : Hafeez Ahmad Khan
Indore Gharnana : Amir Khan
Mewati Gharnana : Maniram J., Pt. Jasraj Pratapnarayan


Distinguished exponents of music

Swami Haridas (1480 A.D.): A mystic of north India, perhaps was a strong force in the spread of dhrupad particularly, in the period of Raja Man Singh Tomar.  He belonged to the tradition of madhura bhakti – adoration expressed in erotic forms.  He started the Haridasi school of mysticism.

Jayadeva: Belonged to 12thcentury A.D. and is considered the last of the ancients and the first of the moderns in the field of music.  Jayadeva was the greatest lyric poet in Sanskrit in prabandha form. He was a composer, musician and mystic poet, and was one of the five gems who adorned the royal court of Maharaja Lakshmanasena the last Hindu King of Bengal.  Jayadeva composed several sangita prabhandha such as Radha-Vinod, Prasanna Raghvani and Geet Govinda.

Gopal Nayak : Belonging to 13-14thcentury A.D., he was one of the last and greatest prabandha exponents and Adi-guru or founder preceptor of dhrupad traditions.

Baiju Bawra: Belonged to early 16thcenturyand  Tansen were Disciples of Swami Haridas.  The texts of Baiju’s dhurpadas cover a wide range of dignified themes such as mythology, mysicology, the origins of notes  (swaras), systems of philosophy (Tantric, Sankhya etc.), descriptions of spring season, the joys and sorrows of the rainy season, metaphysical aspects and so on.

Nanasaheb Panse: (1775-1880 A.D.): He founded the Pakhawaj gharana which  has produced many outstanding Mridanga artists.  There are three main gharanas of Pakhawaj or the mridanga of north India: Nanasehab Panse Gharana, Kudau Singh Gharana and Nabhadwara Gharana

Ustad Bade Ali Kahn: A veena maestro, Ustad Bande Ali Khan of the Kirana gharana of classical music belonged to mid 19thcentury.

Sadarang and Adarang: They are prolific Khayal composers of 19thcentury, who ushered in the Khayal era.  Sarang and Adarang often composed jugalbandi khayals (pairs), the former composing a khayal as a challenge, and the latter creating his version as a jawab (answer).

Pt. Vishnu Digambar Paluskar: (1872-1931): Pt. Vishnu Digambar Paluskar is responsible for reviving the art of Hindustanimusic during the late 19th and early 20thcentury, when the art had gone  into a decline.  Vishnu Diagambar Paluskar travelled all over India travelled all over India and established the first Gandharva Mahavidyalaya in Lahore in 1901 he was also a nationalist and set the song Vande Mataram  to a tune appropriate for public participation, singing it for the first time at the Lahore Congress.  His devotional rendition of the bhajan Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram inspired even Muslims to join the singing in Hyderabad.

Ustad Bundu Khan (1880-1955): A true  Sarangi nawaz, Bundu Khan wrote several parts o Sangit Viveka Darpan, the first part of which was published in 1934.  It contains a large number of tans and ragas, Malkauns and Bairavi. He belonged to the Delhi gharana.

Pandit Kanthe Maharaj (1880-1969): A veteran of Benaras gharana of table, Kanthe Majaraj remained an independent performing artiste and guru. Producing sonorous modulations on the bayan by varying pressures was one of the special features of his style.

Govindrao Tembe(1881-1955): A multitalented personality, he was an outstanding harmonium expert.  As the harmonium has no parampara (traditions) like some of the other musical instruments, Tembe evolved his own technique through which he used to do full justice to Khayal, Thumri, Natya Sangit and Dhuns on the harmonium in his solo recitals and also as an excellent accompanist for maestro Pt. Bakhle.

Pandit Bhasarbuwa Bakhale (1862-1922): Pandit Bhaskarbuwa is also called ‘a titan of the golden age of music’.  His own style is often referred to as the Bakhle Gharana.  His style was non-imitable and hence admirers called him Avghad-das (master of a complex, difficult style).  Bhaskarbuwa’s repertoire was equipped with all types of compositions from dhrupads and khayals to tappas, Marathi stag songs, ashtapadis and bhajans.

Gauhar Jan (1870-1930):Gifted with beauty, brains and melodious voice was quite a legend in her lifetime. She was the greatest signer of khayal and thumri among women in India.  The appealing behalavas of swaras (notes) make her thumris effective.

Gyanacharya Pt. Anant Manohar Joshi (1881-1967): He belonged to Gwalior gayaki’.  With his highly devotional temperament, he enjoyed setting tunes for the numerous songs in Hari kathas.  He also composed a large number of songs and created new raga combinations like Triveni-Lalit, Hamirani, Gaud Mlav Malkausika and others.

Ali Bux and Fateh Ali (1850-1920): Belonging to Patiala darbar, they were popularly called as Alia-Fatu because they formed an inseparable duo and their jugalbandis won country-wide fame and popularity.

Gayan Maharish Ustad Alladiya Khan(1855-1946): Founder of Japipur gharana, he is said to have belonged to the Dagar Bani in his dhrupad renditions with shades of Gabarhar Bani imbibed from his maternal ancestors.  But he became famous as a great exponent of khayal singing.

Pandit Shankar Pandit (1862-1917): Pillar of the Gwalior gharana, Pandit Shankar Pandi and his son Krishnarao Pandi loyally stuck to their royal patron in Gwalior and upheld their Gwalior gayaki  in all its purity.  This is considered as the fountainhead (gangotri) of all Khayal-gharanas.

Thyagaraja (1767-1847): Considered greatest among the music composers of his age; he greatly influenced music in South India during the 18th and 19thcenturies.  He revolutionized the very nature of Carnatic music.  His works were of delicate spirituality, full of melodic beauty.  He was an expert in producing something utterly new from ragas and talas  usedover and over again in the past.  He built a unique musical empire with only one type of composition, the kriti.

Tansen (1506-1580): Original name Ramatanu Tansen was born with talent in music.  His talent  was nurtured and developed by the famous musician of the time, Swami Haridas of Brindavan.  Raja Ram Chand noticed his talent and readily accepted him as one of his court-singers.  When Akbar occupied the throne at Agra he took the earliest opportunity to invite the poet-singer to his court.  Akbar conferred the title of Tansen on the veteran musician who remained in his court till the end.  He was a renowned discoverer of several ragas and a few instruments including Rudra Veena and is said to be the innovator of the  two famous ragas, ‘Miyan-ki-todi’ and ‘Darbari Kanada’.

Parur Sundaram Iyer (1895-1974): belonging  to Kerala, he was a pioneer in popularizing violin in the north.  He also initiated North-South integration through the medium of music by developing a unique style of music having components of both the Hindustani and Carnatic music.  This integrated stream came to be known as Bharatiya Sangeet.

Dr. Vasantrao Deshpande (1920-1983): One  of the most accomplished and versatile personalities of Hindustanimusic, he was an impressive concert singer who had an extraordinary repertoire of songs ranging from khayals, thumris, dadras and taranas to natya-sangeet and bhajans.  For his thesis on ‘Samagana se thumri tak’, he was awarded a Doctorate by the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya.

Dattatreya V. Paluskar (1921-1955): Describe as ‘the Vivekananda of Hindustanimusic’, he had a very rich repertoire of ragas  and compositions.  He always preferred to present popular expansive ragas and traditional bandishes in different ragas.

Pandit Gopal Misra (1921-1977): A sarangi Maestero, he was honoured with special title of Sarangi Samrat in appreciation of his mastery over swara and laya, alike.  He belonged to the Benaras gharana of  sarangi.

Bhaiya Ganpatrao: Bhaiya Ganpatrao, a scion of the Gwalior royal family belonged to  late 19th – mid 20thcentury.  He was a genius on the harmonium and also a widely loved exponent of the light classical type of music.

Pandit Shankarro Vyas (1898-1958): A good classical musician, an excellent guru and composer, Shankarrao wrote and published a series of textbooks: prathamik Sangeet (two volumes); Madhya Sangeet (three volumes); and sitar Lahiri (three volumes).  Jhala Prakar was his  last book.  He in association with his brother founded the Gujarat Sangit Vidyalaya in Ahmedabad.  He sang khayals  in the typical dignified ‘Gwalior style’ with elaborate alaps and vaired tans. He was also adept at rending taranas and thumris.

Pandit Vinayakrao Patwardhan (1898-1975): Known as a versatile scholar-musician-guru, he founded Gandharava Mahavidayala in 1932, in Pune.  In 1952 he establsiehd the Vishnu Digambar Sangeet Vidyalaya, and wrote and published many text books on music for the benefit of music students such as Raga Vigyan in seven volumes, Tala Sangeet in three volumes, Natya Sangeet-Prakash, Majhe Guru Charitra and others.

Pandit Anokhey Lal (Misra) (1914-1958): A table Maestro he had developed his own unique and sonorous style of playing just the basic tals, which had a haunting sweetness.

Radhika Mohan Moitra (1917-1981): A sarod maestro of the Seniya gharana, he was a cultured and polished, a highly educated and intellectual maestro whose art reflected not only his intellectual temperament but also a rare emotional quality.  Mitra’s sarod style was an instant reminder of the legacy of rabab  to sarod.

M.S. Subhulakshmi: Trained from childhood in the of singing Carnatic music by her mother, a gifted veena player; stepped into fame from the time of her performance at All India Music Conference (1943), was acclaimed still more all over India as singer of Mira Bhajans request, the bhajan Hari Tum Haro, on his birthday.  She won many awards including the Bharat Ratna in 1997.  She held a concert under the auspices of United Nations (1966), an honour given to very few creative artists.  She has sung for many benefits, charity performances and philanthropic causes receiving in recognition, Ramon Magsaysay Award (1974), has tried innovations and also to synthesise Carnatic and Hindustanimusic.

Amir Khusro: APropagated Muslim – or rather Persian – musical feelings and technique.  He was a sufiand loved poetry and music.  Khusro composed quawaali and taranas, and wrote in Persian and Braj.  More than anything, he attempted to ‘synthesise’ Persian music and Indian musicwhich he learned.  The origin of khayal and the invention of sitar are attributed to him.

Ravi Shankar: Younger  brother of famous dancer Uday Shankar, in whose dance troupes he danced in Paris, London and other continental capitals. He gave  up dancing and specialized in the sitar under the famous Allaudin Khan (whose daughter he married).  He became a brilliant sitarist.  He was the first Indian to present Indian music at UNESCO meeting at Paris and composed music for the famous film Pather  Panchali and for ballets Discovery of Indiaand India Immortal. He received several awards including Silver  Bear Award (Berlin, Sangeet Natak Akademi award for Hindustanimusic, etc.

Ali Akbar Khan: Son of famous sarod maestro, Allaudin Khan, he founded Ali Akbar College of Music,  Calcutta (1956).  As a court musician of Jodhpur, toured abroad extensively, received Sangeet Natak Akademi award for instrumental music (1963), film  award for music in Hungry Stones and composed new ragas.

Allauddin Khan: Eminent sarod player and instrumentalist of Senia gharana who played various (Indian) instruments.  he is a composer and pioneer in orchestration.  He established Mahiar Nand(1924).  He has received Sangeet Natak Akademi award for Hindustaniinstrumental music, Padma Bhushan and Desikottama (Visva Bharati).  He composed new ragas like Hemant, Prabhat Kali, Hem Behag, etc.  his prominent students include Ali Akbar (son), Annapurna (daughter), Ravi Shankar (son-in-law), Timir Baran, Sharan Rani, Bhadur Khan, Pannalal Ghosh, Nikhil Nanerjee and others.

Zubin Mehta (1936): Amusical child prodigy, who studied music, at Academy of Music, Vienna.  He won international acclaim for conducting competition in England (1948).  He conducted New York Philharmonic with outstanding achievement, conducted Los Angeles and Montreal Orchestras (1961) becoming  youngest conductor of a symphony orchestra in USA and first person to become conductor of two orchestras simultaneously.  New York Philharmonic made worldwide search for ‘best music director ‘ and appointed him as conductor in 1978.

Bismillah Khan: Maestro of Hindustani Shehnai;received Sangeet Natak Akademi award, Padma Sri (1961), Padma Bhushan, etc.

Bhimsen Joshi: A vocalist of Hindustanimusic, he is the most popular singer in Maharashtra and Bengal

Dagar Broterhs: Ustad Zahiruddin Dagar and Ustad Faizazuddin Dagar are the 19th generation of descendants in the line of great Dhrupadiyas.  They are custodians of an old and rare culture.

Iryakudi Ramanuja Iyengar: Pioneer of the concert style of music without sacrificing the spirit of classicism.

Kumar Gandharav: vocalist of immense originality in Hindustanimusic.

  1. Subramanyan (Dr.): Violin maestro, he was the musical advisor of Peter Brooke’s serial on Mahabharat.

Rabindra Nath Tagore: No account of Indian music and its modern cultural impact is complete without a study f Rabindranath.  Belonging to family of Bengal Brahmins, his genius found definite outlets at the age of twenty when Sandhya Sangeet, written by him, elicited warm tribute from Bankin Chandra.  His songs are well chiseled and finely proportioned.  The compositional forms included dhrupad, thumri and tappa though the majority were just songs.

Pandit Hari Prasad Chaursia: Maestro of flute, he plays rare ragas like Hemavati, which is primarily that of the Carnatic tradition.

Pandit Mallikarjun Mansur: Hindustani classical vocalist trained in Gwalior gharana.  He can present an amazing variety of as many as 200 ragas.

Purandara Dasa: His writings and songs were called Purandara Dasa Upanishad.  A supreme artist, pioneer in musical pedagogy, called Adi Guru, he had standardized and brought into order the teaching methods in Carnatic music.

Shyama Sastri: He was the most lyrical of the musical trinity (composed of himself, Thyagaraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar), with a penchant for laya.  Few of his works have lasted, which include a few swarajatis.

Budalur Krishnamurthi Shastrigal (1894-1978): one of the greatest masters of the gottuvadyam, with intense musical knowledge and the ability of produce accurate gamakas on this difficult instrument.  After his guru, Sakharama Rao, Budalur Krishnamurti Sastrigal was considered the greatest vidwan of the gottuvadyam.  He was invited by Rukmini Devi Arundale to join her institute, Kalakshetra, where she had collected the most eminent artists of the time.  Till the end of his life, he remained Principal of Kalakshetra as well as Visiting Professor of the Central College of Carnatic music.

Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar (1890-1967): His style of singing is emulated as the Ariyakudi Baani, was a disciple of Poonchi Srinivas Iyengar, a disciple of Pattanam Subramaniya Iyer.  His rich voice and purity of tone were combined with his dignified style of performance, which was marked by simplicity, grace and a medium tempo.  The present Katcheri format, in whichmusicians render a variety of kritis in different ragas, wasinitiated by Ariyakudi.

Madurai Mani Iyer (1912-1968): Was known as the master of romantic manodharma.  The immaculate perfection of his concert pattern and the cascading flow of music with unpredictable and sparkling bhrigas, swaras and neraval rendition,  were the notable features of his exposition.  He was an expert in apoorva ragas and brilliant in swara singing.

T.R. Mahalingam (Mali) (1926-1986): Mali the lengender flautist who shot to fame from the age of seven, wrought a revolution in Carnatic flute playing by pioneering a special method of cross fingering that created such mellifluous music.   It nearly wiped out, in terms of popularity, the original fingering technique developed by Sarabha Sastri and propagated by his disciple Palladam Sanjeeva Rao.

Pt. Omkarnath Thakur (1897-1967): Achieved fame as one of the most outstanding vocalists of the century.  He received his training from Pt. Vishnu Digambar Paluskar at the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya in Bombay.  Though officially trained in the Gwalior gharana, Pt. Omkarnath Thakur’s singing was a gharana unto itself, and rose above classification.  He was the first Head of the Department at the Benaras Hindu University.