Although vocal music has always been the mainstay of Hindustani classical music, one of the most spectacular features of India’s rich musical tradition is the evolution of a wide range of musical instruments – percussion, wind and string instruments. As in its vocal counterpart, in the context of Indian classical instruments, the characteristics of a gharana for each instrument would include the structure, tuning system and the tonality of the instruments together with specific application of “tantrakari baaz” or the vocabulary of the instrument. For instance, Imdad Khan was the creator of the Imdadkhani or Etawah gharana and Allauddin Khan, the founder of the Seni Maihar school etc.
There has always been creative individuality within the tradition of a gharana. Just as Vazebua, Omkarnath Thakur, Vinayak Rao Patwardhan and D.V. Paluskar were exponents of the same khayal gharana (Gwalior), they each had an entirely different style of singing. Similarly, in the instrumental landscape, Ravi Shankar and Nikhil Banerjee, both stars of the Maihar school and both students of Allauddin Khan have distinctive styles of their own within the Maihar framework.
Instruments in Hindustani Classical Music
In the late 18th century, as the khayal introduced romanticism in North Indian vocal music, by refashioning the dhrupad styles of the period, the sitar came into being, as a derivative of the tritantri veena, to counter this new dimension in vocal music. A similar aspiration towards both dhrupad and khayal, the ideal that instrumentalists always attempt to approach, later led to the
Santoor, a Persian word, meaning a hundred strings has been referred to as the shata tantri veena in Indian musical history. Until very recently, in India, it was only heard in the hills and valleys of Kashmir, played in a style of music known as the Sufiana Mausiqi, as an accompaniment to the hymns of the Sufi mystics.
Chief among Indian wind instruments are the flute and the shehnai. The Indian flute or bansuri began as a humble folk
Though Indian classical music has a number of stringed instruments of the bowed variety, the introduction of the violin to it, is quite recent. In fact, it is the first western instrument to be absorbed completely into Indian music.