Travel Guide

Indian Classical Music

Indian classical music is one of the oldest forms of music in the world. Its melodic and staccato nature sets it apart from other genres and pays tribute to its roots, when it was performed as part of tribal chants, vedic hymns and folk music. The alluring sounds of the sitar and the tabla in particular, have found their way into mainstream pop music ever since The Beatles adapted them into their 1967 Magical Mystery Tour album.

Although Indian classical music is generally divided into two types -- the Hindustani (Northern Indian) and Carnatic (Southern Indian) -- the origins and fundamentals of both forms are more or less the same.

Hindustani classical music hails from Northern India can be traced back to Vedic times, circa 1000 BC. It was heavily influenced by Persian music, as well as by contemporary religious and folk music. The Hindustani stemmed from an age-old tradition of singing hymns from the Sama Veda, a sacred text. This practice gradually grew into a strong and diverse tradition over time. The Hindustani is not only known in India, but is also popular in neighbouring countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The word Carnatic stems from ancient Sanskrit, meaning 'soothing to ears'. This form tends to have more structure compared to Hindustani music. The Carnatic gernerally has a faster tempo and shorter songs. It focuses on themes such as worship, descriptions of temples, philosophy, and nayaka-nayaki (attaining God).

Both the Hindusthani and Carnatic are performed here.

Since its formation in 1985, the Singapore Indian Orchestra & Choir (SIOC) has staged over 350 performances. It is regularly invited to perform at festivals in Singapore, Australia and Brunei, under the leadership of Mrs Lalitha Vaidyanathan.

Alternatively, cultural vultures can get sign up for lessons at the Indian Classical Music Centre located in Little India. Despite its stern-sounding name, the music centre is a fun place to visit, boasting just about every classical Indian instrument you can think of. 


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