Sitar, sarod, tabla, sarangi or dhrupad, khayal, ghazal or raga, tala, gharana- these are known the world over today. They represent Hindustani Art Music – in reality, a part of Indian Classical music. The terms North Indian Classical Music or Shstriya Sangeet are also occasionally used.
Indian music has developed through very complex interactions between different people of different races and cultures over several thousand years including the Vedic chant tradition dating back to approx. one millennia BCE, the equally ancient Persian tradition of Musiqi-e assil, and also the existent folk traditions prevalent in the region.
However, references to music in ancient texts, aesthetic formulations, and depictions and written discussions of musical instruments offer clues to the Indian music history.
Indian classical music allows for a much greater degree of “personalization” of the performance. Thus they do not represent mind of the composer but a universal idea of the world. They transmit not personal but impersonal emotion.
A difference with the western classical music is that Indian music is monodic, not polyphonic. Hindustani (North Indian) ragas are assigned to specific times of the day (or night) and to specific seasons. Many ragas share the same scale, and many ragas share the same melodic theme.
For most historical eras and styles, surviving treatises explaining musical scales and modes provide a particularly important means of recapturing at least a suggestion of the music of former times. Tracing the musical theory of the past makes clear the position of the present musical system.