Hindustani Classical Music
In the ancient river of artistic tradition there are two modern streams, called Hindustani and Carnatic, which use the same vocabulary of pitch and rhythm (organized into ragas and talas), but manifesting in slightly different organizational, compositional, and ornamental styles. Often it boils down to simple differences in terminology. There are many musicians, especially in modern times, who freely drink from both sources, while maintaining their homes in one style or another.
Hindustani music began to take on certain stylistic borrowings from West Asia in the middle ages. Sultan Allauddin Khilji was of Afghan-Turkish descent, and when he established his court in Delhi in 1293, he brought together three musicians who implanted their musical influences into what was later to be known as Hindustani music. One, Gopal Nayak, was from India, and brought with him the indigenous music. Amir Khusrau, of Turkish background, introduced the instruments and flavors of the Islamic cultures. And Nizamuddin Chisti was a teacher in the Sufi tradition that fortunately provided the umbrella of devotion under which both Hindu and Islamic musicians found the ecstatic expression of both faiths viable.
In the fifteenth century, the style known as Dhrupad was born in Gwalior, a style in which the presentation of the raga in several movements-alap-jor-and fixed composition in accelerating sections-provided for a dignified presentation of the raga with a balance between composition and improvised sections. Whereas dhrupad is not often heard today in its pure form, it remains the backbone of the modern style of unfolding of the raga in concert. The great dhrupad vocalist of the Mughul court of Akbar the Great, Miyan Tansen (d. 1584), is said to be the "father of Hindustani music." During this period, modern Carnatic music was also laying its stylistic roots.
In the eighteenth century, the musical style changed, as well as the instruments which purveyed it. Khyal, the lively vocal style, began its climb to ascendancy, and the instruments sitar and tabla developed their modern form. When these newer artists and instruments were eventually trained in the old Dhrupad literatures and styles in the nineteenth century, the present formats of north Indian classical music were established. Although we now think of modern Hindustani music as being the province of the khyal singers and the sitar and sarod being the solo instruments of choice, they are joined by sarangis, santurs, flutes, and guitars.