Music of India (Classical, Folk, Rock, and pop etc)

Indian music encompasses numerous genres in multiple varieties and forms which include classical music, folk (Bollywood), rock, and pop.

It has a history spanning several millennia and developed over several geo-locations spanning the sub-continent.

1) Classical Music

The two main traditions of Indian classical music are Carnatic music, which is practised predominantly in the peninsular (southern) regions, and Hindustani music, which is found in the northern, eastern and central regions.

Both the classical music are standing on the fundamentals of The seven notes of Indian Classical music.

Sangeet Natak Academy recognizes eight classical dance and music forms, namely Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Kathakali, Sattriya, Manipuri and Mohiniyattam.

Additionally, India's Ministry of Culture also includes Chhau in its classical list.

1.1) Carnatic Music

Carnatic music can be traced to the 14th-15th centuries AD and thereafter. It originated in South India during the rule of Vijayanagar Empire through the Keerthanas composed by Purandara Dasa.

Musical forms of Carnatic Music: Gitam, Suladi, Svarajati, Jatisavaram, Varnam, Kirtanam, Kriti Pallavi etc.

1.2) Hindustani Music

Hindustani Music is one of the two distinct schools of Indian Classical Music practiced mainly in North India.

The tradition of Hindustani music dates back to Vedic times where the hymns in the Sama Veda, an ancient religious text, were sung as Samagana and not chanted.

Major styles of Hindustani Music: Dhrupad, Dhamar, Hori, Chaturang, Sargam, Khayal, Tarana, Thumri, Tappa, Ghazal etc.

2) Folk Music

Unlike classical music, folk music does not follow any set of rules and regulations, they are majorly based on diverse themes and rhythm.

Folk Music State Themes/features
Alha Madhya Pradesh Heroic ballad related to Mahabharata
Baul West Bengal Influences of Hindu bhakti movements and Sufi and represent the mysticism through songs
Bhagawati Karnataka and Maharashtra Emotional songs close to Ghazals sung in slower pitch

Nature, love, and philosophy are themes
Dandiya Raas Gujarat Associated with Holi and Lila of Krishna and Radha
Hekaileu Nagaland Songs about oneself
Heliamleu Nagaland Dancing songs
Hereileu Nagaland War songs
Ja-jin-ja Arunachal Pradesh Sung during the marriage ceremony
Khongjom Parva Manipur Ballad genre which is a musical narration of the Battle of Khongjom fought between the British army and the resistance force of Manipur
Lavani Maharashtra Combination of traditional dance and song
Maand Rajasthan The songs in about the glory of Rajput rulers
Neuleu Nagaland A song about legends and myths
Nyioga Arunachal Pradesh Sung at the end of the marriage ceremony
Ovi Maharashtra and Goa Songs of women
Paani Hari Rajasthan The theme is related to water
Pai song Madhya Pradesh Sung during festivals

The song generally played during the rainy season
Saira dance is performed based on the Pai song
Pandwani Chhattisgarh Based on Mahabharata
Powada Maharashtra Ballads sung for the heroes of the past like Shivaji
Sohar Bihar Sung during childbirth
Tikir Assam Embodies the teaching of Islam
Wanawan Kashmir Sung during wedding

Almost every region in India has its own folk music, which reflects the way of life, here is a state wise list of most popular folk music in India:

State Folk Music Forms Prominence
Jammu & Kashmir Hafiz Nagma Based on the classical music form 'Sofiyiana Kalam,’ 'Hafiz Nagma’ was introduced in the Mughal era and has been a popular art form ever since.
Surma Sung in Dogri language, 'Surma’ narrates the anxiety of a woman, whose husband serves in the Army.
Ladishah A satirical form of singing, 'Ladishah’ narrates the social and political conditions of the state.
Chakri Chakri is one of the most important folk music of the state. As it narrates famous love stories, it is often sung at weddings.
Himachal Pradesh Jhoori A satirical form of singing, associated with extra-marital relations. The songs are often accompanied by dance performances.
Ainchaliyan A type of religious songs often sung to a newly wed bride or to an unmarried girl, who is expected to get married in near future.
Uttar Pradesh Rasiya These songs narrate the love stories of Radha and Krishna.
Birha Themes used in these folk songs often revolve around the separation of lovers.
Kajari These songs are used to describe a woman’s longing for her lover.
Qawwali A form of Sufi music often sung for devotional purposes.
Punjab Tappa Originated from the folk songs of ancient Punjab, 'Tappa’ often depicts the plight of a lover.
Bhangra Bhangra is the most popular folk music of Punjab. It is also one of the oldest forms of music in India. The music is often accompanied by the famous Bhangra dance.
Jugni Jugni is an ancient form of folk music, which is often used in Punjabi weddings.
Uttarakhand Jhoda The songs are usually sung by two groups of people and is often accompanied by a group dance involving men and women
Thadya One of the most important music forms of Uttarakhand, 'Thadya’ was originally performed in royal courts.
Arunachal Pradesh Ja-Jin-Ja This is a form of folk music that is sung by a group of singers, comprising of both men and the women folk.
Baryi Often sung during special occasions and festivals, 'Baryi’ narrates mythological stories and the state’s rich history.
Nyioga Sung during weddings, Nyioga is one of the popular folk music of Arunachal Pradesh.
Rajasthan Maand Maand is a popular form of folk music, which sounds similar to 'Thumri’ or 'Ghazal.’
Pabuji Ki Phach 'Pabuji Ki Phach’ honors Pabuji, who was a historical hero of the Bhopa community. It also narrates the splendor and tradition of Rajasthan.
Panihari Developed by the women folk of Rajasthan, 'Panihari’ narrates the importance of water.
Bihar Sohar Performed mainly by the women folk, 'Sohar’ is usually sung during childbirth
Sumangali Performed in groups during weddings. It is believed that these folk songs have a positive impact on the groom.
Sikkim Gha To Kito Often accompanied by dance performances, 'Gha To Kito’ describes the natural beauty of the state.
Lu Khangthamo Performed by the young and old folks, 'Lu Khangthamo’ is basically a thanksgiving song.
Manipur Khubakeshei Sung by a group of people, 'Khubakeshei’ is a type of devotional folk music.
Jharkhand Domkach Often accompanied by a dance performance, 'Domkach’ is one of the most popular music forms of Jharkhand.
Jhumar Like many other folk songs of Jharkhand, Jhumar too, is always accompanied by a dance performance.
Gujarat Bhajan A form of devotional music, which is sung to seek the blessings of gods and goddesses.
Garba 'Garba’ songs were introduced in order to accompany the famous dance form of the same name.
Dandiya Much like 'Garba,’ 'Dandiya’ songs are usually used as an accompaniment to the popular dance form, 'Dandiya Raas,’ which is performed during festivals.
Goa Banvarh Sung in funerals, 'Banvarh’ is a song used to mourn the death of the loved ones.
Deknni Often accompanied by dance performances, 'Deknni’ is a popular art form in Goa.
Fughri Performed during religious occasions, 'Fughri’ is often accompanied by dance performances.
Mando Evolved during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this music form was influenced by the western music.
Andhra Pradesh & Telangana Madiga Dappu Performed by an artisan group called 'Madiga,’ this music form is used during various occasions.
Oggu Katha 'Oggu Katha’ narrates the mythological tales of gods and goddesses.
Suvvi paatalu These songs are usually performed by the women folk. The songs are in the form of question and answers, and are performed in groups.
Karnataka Jaanapada Geethe A collection of folk songs that narrate the everyday lives of the people.