Hindustani Classical Music [UPSC Notes]

Hindustani Music is the one among the two distinct varieties of Indian Classical Music.  The other variety of Indian classical music is Carnatic Music. While the former belongs to the Northern part of the country, the latter is south Indian. This music became popular during the Mughal Empire. Some Persian and Arabic elements have been assimilated in this music system. There are 10 forms are styles of singing and composition. Among them, Dhrupad, Khayal, Tappa and Thumri are the most popular.

Get the difference between Hindustani music and Carnatic Music in the linked article.

Classical music and dances are an important segment of Art & Culture for the IAS Exam.

The related articles that an aspirant can read are linked below:

Facts about Hindustani Classical Music

  1. It is primarily vocal-centric music.
  2. What is Sangeet?
    • The term ‘Sangeet’ means singing in a proper manner.
    • Sangeet is a combination of singing, instrumental music and dance.
  3. There are two systems of music:
    • Northern Music System – It is called Hindustani Sangeet. In India, it is prevalent everywhere except in four southern states. The neighbouring countries of India like Nepal and Bangladesh also have northern music system.
    • Southern Music System – It is called Karnatak Sangeet. The southern states of India have a southern music system.

Important Terms Related to Hindustani Music

The important terms related to Hindustani Music are given below:

  1. Nada
    • The regular sound that is created of a physical object through oscillations and vibrations and reaches our ears is called nada.
    • There are two types of Nada-Ahat Nada and Anahat Nada
  2. Shruti
    • The smallest form of Nada is called Shruti.
    • Shruti creates Ragas.
    • As widely acceptable information; there are 22 shrutis in a saptak.
  3. Svara
    • Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni are the seven notes found their mention in the Natya Shastra of Bharata.
  4. Saptak
    • When the seven notes (sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni) are organized in a sequence, they are called saptak.
  5. Varna
    • The types of methods which are used in singing are called varna.
  6. Alankara
    • The component that beautifies music is called Alankara. The combination of varnas in different sequence give both to alankara.

Hindustani Musical Instruments

We will discuss a few Hindustani musical instruments below:

  1. Tanpura
    • The instrument used with basic ‘swara’.
    • It has four strings.
    • All seven swaras are used while playing tanpura.
    • The following are the parts of tanpura:
      • Tumba
      • Tabli
      • Ghuruch
      • Jawari
      • Keel Dand
      • Gul Ati
      • Manka, etc
  2. Tabla
    • It is a soft instrument of tall.
    • The parts of tabla are:
      • Wood
      • Pudi
      • Gajra
      • Baddhi
      • Chanti
      • Siyahi
      • Lav
      • Gatta
      • Gudri

Forms of Hindustani Music


This is the oldest and grandest form of Hindustani music. It is essentially poetic and it is presented in a style marked with the precise and orderly elaboration of  Raga.  exposition proceedings composed verses is called Alap.


Khayal means imagination. This is the most prominent style in Hindustani depicting the romantic style of singing. It largely depends on the imagination and improvisation of the performer. It is also composed of particular raga and tala. It ranges from the praise of kings description of seasons and pranks of Lord Sri Krishna.


Thumri originated in the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh. It is influenced by Hori, Kajri, Dadra. Tumhri is supposed to be the romantic and erotic style of singing and is also called “lyric of Indian classical music”. The song composition mainly on love and devotion.


Tappa developed around the 18th century. It means jump in Persian, it is developed on folk songs of camel riders.

UPSC Preparation:

Leave a Comment

Your Mobile number and Email id will not be published.