Julie Andrew would say, “The first 3 notes just happened to be …”,” in the 1959 musical drama The Sound of Music
The Western classical music’s syllables may be different from Indian, but their vibration is the exact same.
Classical music lovers would have strong opinions about the striking differences that exist between Indian classical music and western music. This doesn’t mean that the two music traditions cannot be mixed.
If this were the case, there wouldn’t have been so much Indian classical music concert fusion. In which Saraswati vitar and Hindustani sitar play in unison together with clarinets, double bass, and violin, Saraswati would be the first time that Saraswati and Hindustani are paired.
Let’s see, what are the elements that bring western music closer to Indian classical music? And what are their differences? Let’s discover…
Origins in Western and Indian Music
Indian Classical Music This is where the first instance of Indian music can be found. It can be seen in Vedic Literature, which is said to have been before 500 BCE. A majority of the early scriptures have been found to have been written in couplets. This is a sign of a rhythmic recital and its culture.
Most ancient Indian scriptures were transmitted to the following generations via oral recitals. The same method has been used to develop classical music in India. The first teachers of Indian classic music instructed students orally. Even today Indian Classical Music Classes follow the same format.
Indian classical music has a unique quality: it is passed down through generations. But, new musicians have added their own creativity and ideas to enrich it. It evolved over the years as it was classified, refined, and documented.
Western Classical Music This is the first appearance through the plainchants at the Roman Catholic Church, Medieval. Western classical music was advanced by Troubadour (French poet-musician) who made music to their poems.
The Churches sang monophonic chants or religious songs. Courtly love was presented by the troubadours as a theme. With the development of western classical music, rhythms and pitches were refined and added to.
Many musicians, instruments, and other performers joined the fray, contributing to the evolution of the pitches. Polyphonic compositions originated in the 10th to 11th centuries.
Opera and Orchestra staged operas and orchestras, and so western classical music flourished. The evolution of both vocal and instrumental music continues through the ages.
Although they were both born in different places, both traditions share certain commonalities.
- The first similarities are – the earliest expressions by tone, rhythm, or melody of the human soul.
In both traditions, the first emotion expressed by music was devotion. It was followed by love which was later followed with other human emotions.
- Although there are many differences between Indian classical music and western classical music, they share the same characteristics and sound.
The seven notes used by both traditions (west and India) are the same. They are called Saptak (India) and Solfege (West).
Saptak – Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni
Solfege – Do Re Mi Fa So La ti
They create the same vibrations, their functions, and their contributions to musical composition in Indian classical music.
- In western classical, the octave refers to intervals. It is the distance between pitches. In both tradition, the octave can be divided into twelve notes.
- Indians also use raagas to describe modes and scales. Some thaats, modes, and scales share some of the same characteristics. They include the Ionian style from west and Bilawal thaat India’s, Dorian to Kafi mode, Phrygian, Bhairavi, Lydian, Kalyan and Mixolydian to Khamaj modes and Aeolian mode for Asavari.
- Both Indian classical music as well as western classical music have strong ties to the seasons. Both the Indian and western traditions show the influence of rain, thunder and the times of the day on musical compositions.
Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, for instance, capture the beauty of the four seasons with beautiful musical compositions.
Indian Ragas are also adept at analyzing each season’s subtleties and connecting them to human emotions.
Furthermore, there is a specific dicttat regarding the time Raga should sung. Raag Bahairavi must be sung before dawn, Raagdeepan in the evening and RaagBasant during spring.
- Just as in Indian classical music is melody, western music too uses melody. The west, however, uses melody as a part of a whole, not like the Indian tradition.