Origin And Early History Of Music In India

In India, the origin of music, indeed sound itself is traced back to the origin of the universe. According to Indian mythology, the first ever sound is the Naadbrahma (Brhma as Sound), which pervades the entire universe. It is the purest sound in the universe and is believed to be unstuck. Another myth associates the origin of sound (and dance) with the Tandava of Shiva and Onkar. It is said that sage Narada then introduced the art of music to the earth from heaven. Like dance, origin of the music in India was in devotional songs and was restricted to religious and ritualistic purposes and was mainly used in temples only. This then developed in association with folk music and other musical forms of India and gradually derived its own musical characteristics.

The history of music in India can be traced back to the Vedic times. The concept of Naadbrahma was prevalent in the Vedic ages. All organised music traces its origins back to the Sam Veda which contains the earliest known form of organised music. The earliest raga owes its origin to the Sam Ved. The first reference to music was made by Panini in 500 BC and the first reference to musical theory is found in Rikpratisakhya in 400 BC. Bharata’s Natyashastra (4th century AD) contains several chapters on music, which was probably the first clear written work on music that has divided music into octaves and twenty-two keys. The next important work on music is Dathilan that also mentions the existence of twenty-two srutis per octave. According to ancient notion, only these twenty-two srutis can be made by the human beings. Other works written during this period include Brihaddesi written by Matanga in 9th century AD, which attempts to define Raga; Sangeeta Makaranda, written by Narada in 11th century AD, which enumerates ninety-three Raagas and classifies them into masculine and feminine species; Swaramela Kalanidhi written by Ramamatya in the 16th century AD and Chaturdandi Prakssika written by Venkata Makhhi in the 17th century AD

During the late Vedic Period i.e. from three thousand to twelve hundred B.C., music prevailed in the form called Samgana, which was purely a chanting of the verses in musical patterns. After that music changed its course a little bit. The epics were narrated in musical tones called Jatigan. Between the second to the seventh century AD, a form of music called Prabandh Sangeet, written in Sanskrit became very popular. This form gave rise to a simpler form called Dhruvapad, which used Hindi as the medium. The Gupta period is considered as the golden era in the development of Indian Music.