Music has always been an important part of Indian life. The range of musical phenomenon in India extends from simple melodies to what is one of the most well- developed "systems" of classical music in the world. There are references to various string and wind instruments, as well as several kinds of drums and cymbals, in the Vedas.
Some date the advent of the system of classical Indian music to Amir Khusro. Muslim rulers and noblemen freely extended their patronage to music. In the courts of the Mughal emperors, music is said to have flourished, and the Tansen was one of the jewels of Akbar's court.
The great poet-saints who chose to communicate in the vernacular tongues brought forth a great upheaval in north India and the Bhakti or devotional movements they led gained many adherents. The lyrics of Surdas, Tulsidas, and most particularly Kabir and Mirabai continue to be immensely popular.
By the sixteenth century, the division between North Indian (Hindustani) and South Indian (Carnatic) music was also being more sharply delineated. Classical music, both Hindustani and Carnatic, may be either instrumental or vocal.
India's musical history dates back to the prehistoric times and is in fact regarded as one of the oldest in the world. Most experts claim that the origins of Indian music dates back to the era when the Vedas were created.
No matter what time and age maybe associated with the history of Indian music, there is no doubt that it has been an important part of the country's rich cultural and traditional heritage.
India's music is based on the combination of vocal and instrumental music, along with dance. And these three combined is what is known as sangeet.
According to the documented history of Indian music, performances were complete with the combination of the three. This includes the musical performances in the royal court, temples, during celebrations and festivals, in the villages as part of their entertainment program, etc.
One of oldest music forms known as Sama was developed during the Vedic period, which stretched from 1500 to 500 BC. The hymns that were penned by the learned men of that age were put to tune.
Ever since the history of Indian music saw continuous evolution from the devotional folk to the present day structural form based on the melody and rhythm, also called raga and taal, respectively.
According to historic recordings concerning the music of India, prior to the 13th century there was primarily one type of musical form. But with the invasion of the Mughals, the music of north and central India blended with the Mughal influences of Arabia and Persia bringing into being Hindustani music.
On the other hand the Carnatic music of the south has remained untouched by any kind of external influences.
Indian music has continued to evolve and develop through the eras. It undoubtedly, forms an essential part of every Indian's life living in this country or overseas. In fact there are a large number of foreigners who have taken to learning the various forms of Indian music.
As the history of Indian music clearly declares, music has been the foundation for religious inspiration and rituals, cultural and traditional expression and has been a source for entertainment.
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