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GCSE Music - Key Features Of Indian Classical Music

Updated on May 9, 2012

Indian classical music is built up in 3 layers:

1) The first layer is a melodic line that is played on a solo instrument.
2) The second layer is a rhythmic pattern that is played on the drums.
3) The third layer is a drone (a sustained note) that is played on a stringed instrument.


A range of Indian instruments.
A range of Indian instruments.

Melody

The melody is based on a rag. A rag is a pattern of notes that are a bit like a scale. Different rags are associated with certain times of the day or year.
Rag Desh is associated with the late evening and the monsoon season.

Rhythm

The rhythmic pattern that is played by the drums in the second layer is based on a tal. A tal is a rhythm or a cycle of beats that is repeated and improvised on during a performance.
The first beat in a tal is called a sam. The sam is often emphasized by the musician that is performing.

Structure

Rag performances are often in 3 parts that progress from a slow to a fast tempo.
1) The first part is called the Alap.
The Alap has a slow introduction, then the notes and mood of the rag are introduced against a drone. There is no regular beat or pulse in the Alap, and there is also no percussion.
2) The second section is called the Gat.
The Gat is a fixed composition that is improvised on by the solo instrument.
The percussion is introduced and a clear pulse is established.
3) The last section is called the Jhalla.
The Jhalla is a fast section in which the music becomes very virtuosic and decorative.

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      3 years ago

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