Skip to main content

The Music of India

The Indian subcontinent harbors an extraordinarily rich and multifaceted musical culture comprising a variety of regional, folk, popular, and religious themes as well as two systems of tones. These different genres vary considerably in form and style, yet they are strikingly similar.

With few exceptions, the different types of Indian music are performed by small ensembles that include a lead vocalist or instrumentalist, at least one percussionist, and often one or more instrumentalists providing imitative melodic accompaniment. (There is no harmony in Indian music.) The ensembles also use a drone instrument, usually a tampura (a four-to-six-...

Read Full Article

Support the Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, sustainability projects, educational outreach, and more.