Indian classical music has two variations, Hindustani music and Carnatic music. Hindustani music has its patronage in North India while the roots of Carnatic music are in the South.
Music in India has deep affiliation with religion. Reciting chants and mantras accompanied by musical instruments is a practice observed in Hindu rituals. Music has in many ways preserved religious texts and the role of musicians in India has been a significant one. Since ancient times musicians have been employed to play instruments for Hindu ceremonies at temples.
Beyond this, musicians and singers also enjoyed the patronage of the Rulers of India. The Kings and Emperors across the country had their own troop of musicians to entertain them.
With the Mughul invasion in the Northern parts of the country, Indian music was exposed to other styles from places like Persia and Arabia. This influence along with the traditional elements drawn from Hindu culture shaped Hindustani music or Hindustani Sangeet. The invading rulers continued to back up Indian musicians who served as court musicians.
In times past, Hindustani Sangeet was taught on a one to one basis from a Guru (teacher) to a Sishya (disciple). This resulted in only a limited set of people getting trained in Hindustani music. This trend has changed considerably over the passage of time, with many disciples getting trained from accomplished teachers.
Over the years several schools or styles of Hindustani music have evolved. Despite all these changes in Hindustani Sangeet, the lyrics are usually in Hindi or Braj Basha. This is one distinctive feature that attaches Hindustani music with Indian Culture.
Sitar and Tabla are two classical instruments that play an important role in Hindustani music. Other instruments that are played in Hindustani Sangeet include Sarod, Surbahar, Vichitra Vina, Tanpura, Santur, Seni Rabab, Surmandal, Bansuri, Shehnai, Harmonium, Manjira, Ghungharu, Sarangi, Dilruba, Esraj, Mayuri Vina, Tabla Tarang and Pakhawaj.
The main vocal forms of Hindustani Music are kheyal, gazal, thumri, dhrupad, dhammar and tarana. There are other vocal styles besides these as well.
Two important proponents of Hindustani Sangeet are Amir Khusro, a poet and composer in the court of Emperor Allauddin Khilji and Pandit V N Bhatkhande who classified Ragas into 10 Thats.
Hindustani Sangeet has undergone many changes especially after India’s exposure to Western music. However skilled artists in this stream have kept Hindustani music alive and flourishing
Here’s a book on Hindustani Music for further study.
Buy "Classical Music of North India the First Years of Study: The Music of the Baba Allauddin Gharana As Taught by Ali Akbar Khan at the Ali Akbar College of Music" from Amazon.com
Pick out delightful Hindustani melodies of your choice by following this link.
Buy "The Raga Guide: Survey of 74 Hindustani Ragas" from Amazon.com