Musical Idiom of Indian Classical Music
Music is the process of arranging sounds in various sequence of beats, pulses, and octaves along with other musical components in time. It’s one of the most universal human attributes-a quality that transcends culture and time. General definitions of music comprise common musical elements like rhythm, melodic harmony, pitch, dynamics, and the texture and timbral qualities of timbre and sound. The science of music has been a complicated one throughout history. However, modern concepts of music and its evolution can be traced back to late nineteenth century French linguists who postulated the “folk concept of music,” which was later adopted by scholars of music all over the world.
While the French were the first to develop this highly abstract idea, it took over several decades for it to gain currency and become recognized as something truly expressive. Its foremost role was to serve as a medium for propagating the idea of a purely subjective and aesthetic spiritual discipline. Its goal was to provide a unique sound experience that surpasses the boundaries of individual expression. In essence, it sought to express the soul in the form of music.
Unlike the classical music of India, European music before that time did not have the concept of melody. melody was considered the exclusive province of vocalist. On the contrary, Indian music glorified tonality. The polyphonic compositions of Indian music are characterized by repeated tones that differ in octave and frequency according to the mood of a melody. This was further fortified by the fact that the principal and secondary timbres are always different. This gives rise to the characteristic timbale of Indian music.
The idea of harmony was not explored fully until Brahminical music came into existence. Soon after, other forms of music like folk music, jingale, raglan, and even the khajuraho music evolved. All these varieties have one trait in common and that is tonal harmony. And since the conception of tonal harmony was realized, all these genres of music have been considered to be part of the music of India.
In the past few decades, other features of Indian music such as its adherence to traditional values, its acceptance by the mainstream society, the complex lyrics, and its ability to elicit an emotional response have become hallmarks of Indian classical music. Even today, despite the fact that most people in the mainstream society do not recognize melodic patterns, they readily acknowledge the emotional response that the melodies evoke. The emotional response is heightened by the familiarity that the melody inspires in the listener.
Tonic and rhythmic texture plays an important role in a melody. While a melody may have a single tone, a group of tones can articulate a rhythmically-balanced melody. In performing Indian classical music, the ensemble’s timbre and tone harmonize to produce a sense of texture in a piece of music. This way, a listener is able to easily associate a specific melody with a specific emotion, which is what the composer of a particular composition attempts to achieve in a composition through the use of a well-crafted musical idiom.