music of the Indian subcontinent has a rich history of being one the most
developed expressions of our cultural heritage. Its foundations pre-cede 5000
years, going back to the ancient Indus civilisation. Many instruments such as
harps, flutes and percussion instruments were found during the excavations at
Harappa and Mohenjo Daro, the centres of the Indus valley situated in present
day Sindh, Pakistan.
earliest form of Indian music was based on chants or recitation of hymns, found
in scriptures or Vedas, the earliest
of which were the Rig Veda and Sama Veda. The music of the Vedic era was of a
simple nature, yet it retained a systematic order, the basis of which is still
in existence today. The earliest musical treatise, the Natya
Shastra was written 2000 years ago and gave details on dance, vocal and
instrumental music. In this treatise differentiation between classical music and
folk music was made using the terms Marga
and Deshi. The next important
treatises on music of the early period were the Brihaddeshi and Sangeet Ratnakar.
Sangeet Ratnakar was written at the end of the 12th century and
gave valuable information on the state of music before the coming of the
Muslims. The text revealed the progression of Indian music since the Vedic era.
Prabandhas had now replaced the Vedas, different scales (raags) were being used
and the text also included a detailed description of musical instruments.
The music was still firmly rooted in religion and often performed in
temples as part of worship rituals.
head excavated at Mohenjo Daro, Sindh, Pakistan.
girl of Mohenjo Daro dated 2500BC.
underwent several innovative changes after the advent of Muslim
rule beginning from the late 11th century. Islamic influence brought
in its wake a changed perspective in the style and structure of Indian
music, which over the course of time evolved to become a unique blend of Hindu and Muslim traditions.
unique synthesis resulted in the creation of new
raags and musical genres such as qawwali, tarana, khayal and thumri. Instruments
such as the rabab, sarod, sitar, tabla, santoor and naqqara were developed and introduced into
the Indian fold.
Sarod. Developed from
The first encounter of
Indian music with Muslims was through Sufi saints who were attracted
by traditional Hindu temple music. Sensing that music
was an essential feature of the daily lives of the local inhabitants, Sufis
used music to
spread the message of Islam across to the populace of India.
Sufi saints such
as Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, Hazrat Bahauddin Zikriya
Multani, Sheikh Allaudin Lajuri, and Shaikh Pir Bodhan held regular sessions of sama
or qawwali at their khanqahs to propagate Islam to the masses.
Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia (1235-1326) Renowned sufi of the Chishtiya sect.
The name of Hazrat Amir Khusrau
stands at the forefront of Muslim contribution towards the culture of the
subcontinent. He was
a strong patriot, and highly praised Indian culture, customs and its people.
Apart from being a great poet, he was also a musical genius who
contributed greatly to the evolution of Indian Music. He invented new raags by
combining Persian modes with Indian raags, saazgiri, sarparda, and zeelaf being
some of his creations. He popularised the sufi devotional music qawwali, said to
new genres like the tarana, khayal, naqsh and qalbana and is also
cycles such as asool-e-fakhta and farodast. It
is also claimed that the Persian maqam system of
classifying modes was adopted to classify raags during the time of
Hazrat Amir Khusrau.
Amir Khusrau (1253- 1326)
One cannot forget the
practitioners who practiced the art with arduous devotion and achieved fame in their respective fields. Mian Tansen, Niyamat Khan “Sadarang”, Ustad
Sadiq Ali Khan, Mian Shori, and Siddhar Khan Dhadhi are some of the
legendary names whose creative minds have had a major impact on the musical
heritage of the Indian sub-continent.
the biggest change brought forward by Muslim
musicians has been to shift the devotional aspect of Indian music with the
element of entertainment and artistic value.
One of jewels
in Emperor Akbar's court. Creator of raag Mian ki Malhar.
The Muslim sultans, emperors and
nawabs have also played an important role in developing Indian music. Many were
great musicians in their own right but were more renowned for their patronage of
the musical arts. Important musical treatises were authored
by Muslims under the auspices of the rulers. Many revolutionary changes occurred to music during the reign
of Allaudin Khilji, Sultan Hussain Sharqi, Emperor Akbar, Mohammad Shah
Rangeelay, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah and Nawab Hamid Ali Khan.
The varied styles of artistes
and patronage of the arts by the rulers
safeguarded musical traditions and led to the formation of gharanas.
Ali Shah of Lucknow. (1790- 1859)
Great patron of the arts, exponent of
Kathak and composed under the pseudonym of Akhtarpiya.
the Persian influences on Hindustani music, special mention should be
given to the development of the purist Hindu art form Dhrupad. With its
roots in temple music, Dhrupad evolved from an earlier traditional
form known as prabandha. The genre was further developed and patronised
by Raja Man Singh Tomar of Gwalior during the 16th century who with the
assistance and consultation of leading musicians compiled a historical
music treatise called "Man Kautuhal". Dhrupad remained the
popular genre of classical music until the late 19th century when it was
superseded by khayal.
of the Talwandi Gharana.
Following the creation of
Pakistan, the nation inherited a culture rich in art, literature, and musical
achievement. Many outstanding musicians opted to settle in Pakistan in the
aspiration that greater projection would be given to the melodic arts.
However, classical music has not been given the opportunity to prosper in Pakistan due to the lack
of patronage and promotion for the musical arts and its
plays a great role in defining the existence
and identity of a nation. The
musical heritage of the sub-continent is unique in the sense that it
highlights how different cultures can assimilate to create a
secular art form irrespective of religion, caste or creed. The
importance of retaining and safeguarding the musical heritage should
be realized in Pakistan and it would be tragic if it is lost to the realms of antiquity.
Roshan Ara Begum (1920- 1982) of the Kirana gharana opted to move to
Pakistan after partition.
Goswami, G. Story of Indian Music.
Imam, M.K. Maadan-ul-Mausiqui.
Malik, Saeed. Musical Heritage of Pakistan.
Prajanandha, Swami. Historical Development of Indian Music.
Qureshi, R. Sufi Music of India and Pakistan.
Saeed, M.M. The Sharqi Dynasty of Jaunpur.
Sarmadee,S. & Singh, Thakur Jaidev. Amir Khusrau Commerative Volume.
Singh, Thakur Jaidev. Indian Music.
Discussion with M.A. Sheikh advisor to Classical Music
Research Cell of Pakistan.