Hindustani classical music is an Indian classical music tradition. It originated in North India around 13th and 14th centuries. In contrast to Carnatic music, the other main Indian classical music tradition from South India, the Hindustani classical music was not only influenced by ancient Hindu musical traditions and Vedic philosophy but also by the Persian elements. Hindustani classical music is the most popular stream of Indian music.
Hindustani music is based on the raga system. The Raga is a melodic scale, comprising of notes from the basic seven- Sa, Re, Ga, Ma Pa, Dha and Ni. On the basis of notes included in it, each raga attains a different character. The form of the raga is also determined by the particular pattern of ascent and descent of the notes, which may not be strictly linear.
Hindustani classical music is primarily vocal-centric. The major vocal forms associated with Hindustani classical music are the khayal, Ghazal, dhrupad, dhammar, tarana and thumri. Dhrupad style of singing is traditionally performed by men with a tanpura and pakhawaj. The lyrics sung in Dhrupad are in a medieval form of Hindi and typically heroic in theme, or in praise of a particular deity. A more adorned form is called dhamar. The place of dhrupad has been taken by somewhat less austere and more free-form khayal.
Khayal consists of about 4-8 lines of lyrics set to a tune. The performer uses these few lines as the base for improvisation. The Khayal form of Hindustani classical music is ascribed to Hussain Shah Sharqui, the 15th century ruler of the Sharqui dynasty. It was made popular by the 18th century rule of Mohammed Shah. Some of the modern day vocalists are Bhimsen Joshi, Nagraj Havaldar, Kishori Amonkar, Ulhas Kashalkar, Ajoy Chakraborty, Prabakar Karekar, Pandit Jasraj, Rashid Khan, Aslam Khan, Shruti Sadolikar, Chandrasekhar Swami and Mashkoor Ali Khan.
Another vocal form of the Hindustani music is Tarana. Tarana are songs that are used to convey a feel of joy and are usually performed towards the end of a concert. Thumri is an informal vocal form of Hindustani classical music and is said to have begun with the court of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the Nawab of Oudh.
Originally, a Persian form of vocal music, Ghazal is an important part of Hindustani Classical music. Ghazal exists in multiple variations, including folk and pop forms. Some notable Ghazal performers include Ghulam Ali, Jagjit Singh, Mehndi Hassan and Pankaj Udhas. The themes of Ghazals range from love, joy and piety.