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Hindustani classical music is the Hindustani or North Indian style of Indian classical music found throughout Eastern Pakistan and North India.
Around the 12th century, Hindustani classical music diverged from what eventually came to be identified as Carnatic classical music. The central notion is that of a melodic mode or raga, sung to a rhythmic cycle or tala.
The rhythmic organization is based on rhythmic patterns called tala. The melodic foundations are called ragas. One possible classification of ragas is into “melodic modes” or “parent scales”, known as thaats, under which most ragas can be classified based on the notes they use.
Thaats may consist of up to seven scale degrees, or swara. Hindustani musicians name these pitches using a system called Sargam, the equivalent of the Western movable do solfege:
? Sa (Shadja) = Do
? Re (Rishabh) = Re
? Ga (Gandhar) = Mi
? Ma (Madhyam) = Fa
? Pa (Pancham) = Sol
? Dha (Dhaivat) = La
? Ni (Nishad) = Ti
? Sa (Shadja) = Do
The difference between sargam and solfege is that re, ga, ma, dha, and ni can refer to either “Natural” (shuddha) or altered “Flat” (komal) or “Sharp” (tivra) versions of their respective scale degrees.
As with movable do solfege, the notes are heard relative to an arbitrary tonic that varies from performance to performance, rather than to fixed frequencies, as on a xylophone. The fine intonational differences between different instances of the same swara are called srutis.
A typical rendition of Hindustani raga involves two stages:
• Alap: a rhythmically free improvisation on the rules for the raga in order to give life to the raga and flesh out its characteristics. The alap is followed by a long slow-tempo improvisation in vocal music, or by the jod and jhala in instrumental music.
• Bandish or Gat: a fixed, melodic composition set in a specific raga, performed with rhythmic accompaniment by a tabla or pakhavaj. There are three variations of bandish, regarding tempo:
? Vilambit bandish: A slow and steady melodic composition, usually in largo to adagio speeds.
? Madhyalaya bandish: A medium tempo melodic competition, usually set in andante to allegretto speeds.
? Drut bandish: A fast tempo melodic composition, usually set to allegretto speed or faster.
Hindustani classical music is primarily vocal-centric, insofar as the musical forms were designed primarily for vocal performance, and many instruments were designed and evaluated as to how well they emulate the human voice.
The major vocal forms or styles associated with Hindustani classical music are dhrupad,khyal, and tarana.
Other forms include dhamar, trivat, chaiti, kajari, tappa, tap-khyal,ashtapadis, thumri, dadra, ghazal and bhajan; these are folk or semi-classical or light classical styles, as they often do not adhere to the rigorous rules of classical music.