Introduction to the Classical Music traditions of India

As in the West, classical art music in South Asia has been passed down through many generations of performers, and has become a music based on ancient practices yet encompassing modern ideas. Unlike its Western counterpart, classical music in India gradually diverged into two separate streams from the thirteenth century on, resulting in today’s Hindustani musical tradition in the north and Karnatak tradition in the south. Both these Indian musical systems have highly developed theories, musical forms, performance contexts, and stylistic lineages that pass on practical knowledge orally. Musicians from the two traditions occasionally perform together, integrating performance styles and genres; for the most part, however, the two classical traditions remain separate, cultivated by artists and students devoted to maintaining their musical heritage.

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