Cross-cultural influences in Indian music

Music has been prevalent in the Indian subcontinent for millennia and is a big part of India’s heritage. Indian music practices date back to the Vedic times (3000 B.C.), with references in Rigpratishakhya, which explains the phonetic aspects of the Rigveda, Samaveda(contains the seven notes of the raga) and Natya Shastra, which elaborates on the octave system. From the ancient Sanskrit notations to the modern Sa Re Ga Ma, Indian music has imbibed various techniques and practices to become what it is today: flawless.




To understand how modern Indian music came to be, we have to understand what it was. Besides entertainment, music was used as a form of communication between the human and the divine. Ceremonies were celebrated by chanting verses in a repetitive fashion with minor vocal and instrumental improvisations or Alap. Several forms of music were common, like Samgana, Jatigan and Prabandh Sangeet. While all of them were based in Sanskrit, a form of music called Dhruvapada, hailed during the Gupta period, used Hindi as a medium. Dhruvapada is the Indian music form that paved way for the development of the Indian classical music we listen to today.



Indian music has over 4 million ragas or melodies that can be roughly categorized into Hindustani music and Carnatic music, which are majorly received in the northern and southern regions respectively.

Hindustani music acquires a lot of its embellishments from Tibetan and Persian music cultures. It relies on vocal and instrumental improvisations with idiom-based lyrics set in a loop.

Carnatic music is more lyric-based and follows the traditional octave pattern.

While both styles arose from the same form of classical music, Carnatic style is more in touch with its roots while Hindustani style has imbibed multiple folk tunes and regional melodies.

Sufi style music has had a great impact on Indian music. It has contributed to the Indian classical culture and has been prevalent since the Islamic era (9th century). Amir Khusrau has enhanced Indian classical music by introducing Persian and Arabic features in it. He is also known as the “father of Qawwali”.



Connectivity is a major factor in encouraging fusion techniques in music. Indian music has had a major reformation in the last score because of networking and media. Ease of access to creative collaborations among people from different forms of life has led to new ideas and genres. Entities like TEDxDharamshala have promoted and celebrated these ideas time and again and have enhanced the musical creativity of this generation. Examples of such collaborations include Coke Studio, The Dewarists, MTV Unplugged and many more. Contrary to popular belief, social conformity is not a bad thing if it leads to wondrous and creative music. Accepting opinions and opening our minds to new possibilities is what its all about!

Here is a list of famous collaboration you may have heard of:


Indian music is praised as one of the most versatile and innovative cultures all over the world. That’s because, when it comes to music, we are intricate, observant and adaptable. In a population of 1.3 billion, there are musicians who are jointly working on almost every style of music. In India, music is not a profession. It is a way of life.



Author: Amish Mathur

Feature Image: Michael Tompsett

ARTISTIC REVOLUTION: Art forms can change the world

For centuries, people with vivid imagination have conglomerated to accomplish certain goals, which have brought about a change in a way that has affected almost everyone. These artistic movements have left a significant mark on history itself, creating trends and setting them in stone (quite literally). Art has no age, religion or sex. It starts with an idea and a purpose of progressive enlightenment. Art forms have risen and subdued throughout time, but never has one died out.

History teaches us one thing: people die but ideas survive.


The first ever artistic movement can be dated back to 400 BCE when the Roman and Greek architecture was revered. Since then, creativity has taken many forms: The Renaissance, Baroque, Mannerism, Abstract and Romanticism to name a few. These art reforms happened for various reasons, but the one reason, which is common for all, is progress.

There is no progress without change.


An artistic revolution is a kind of natural selection process, i.e. only the best prevail. A widespread trend, a strong motivating factor, and creativity are the important elements that can bring about change on a massive scale. For example, during The Renaissance, great painters like Rafael and Da Vinci had strong connections to spread their message to a large number of people, they had the motivation for transforming public mentality and, of course, they had immense creativity.


The past 50 years have seen many artistic movements. Art forms like hyper-realism, funk art, toyism, pseudo-realism and much more have made their mark. This generation has a gigantic imagination potential, which has produced strong artistry that asserts progressiveness. Social media has eliminated the problem of getting a piece of creative out in the open, making it easy for artists to get in touch with like-minded people. Also, it provides a platform to display the process and effort that goes into making a creative and promoted a DIY trend. Some of the best DIY creatives are:

Plastic spoon lamp shade

Bottle flowers

Shoes decor

Clipboard wall art

Paper rosette backdrop


Art will keep evolving along with the society’s evolution of thoughts and advanced knowledge and tools of expression. Whether there will be an art movement on a global scale is hard to say, but we do hope that amidst all the chaos, we are fortunate enough to find the Picassos and Gaudis of today.

And if we are really fortunate, we might come to a cognizant realization – There is an artist in all of us, giving each of us the power and divinity to disrupt.


Author: Amish Mathur