Anu-Rag School of Music


Amoolya Raghu Pandurangi; Help: Dr. Raghu Pandurangi

Hindustani music has been in India for nearly 3,000 years while, western music also exists more than 1,500 years. As these two styles of music have been there for a long time, is there a possibility of common grounds between them? This article addresses two aspects: Rhythm and Melody.



Rhythm plays a very important role in any music. Let us define some technical terms. In Western music, the rhythm is kept on a “time signature”. A time signature is instructions on how the measure is set up.


A Measure is defined as a segment of time which corresponds to a specific number of beats.  For example, 4 beats can be one measure. Figure 1 shows that lower four refers to how many beats in a “whole note” which is a type of rhythmic unit in Western Music. In this case, a whole note has 4 beats. The upper four on Figure 1 refers to how many beats are there in a measure. A measure divides a composition into smaller parts making it easier for the reader. 4/4 time signature is the most commonly used time signature in Western Music.  Another common signature is ¾ time signature which refers to 4 beats to a whole note and 3 beats per a measure. This time signature is also nicknamed the “waltz signature” because it is used frequently in waltzes.   

Fig 2 describes how beat patterns work in the Western Music system. All the measures (lines) have four beats, but have different sets of rhythm in each measure. The first measure has all quarter notes (1 quarter note = 1 beat), second measure has a half note (half note =2 beats, but second beat is silent), third measure has eight 1/8 notes (1/8 note = ½ beat), fourth measure has one rest note which is a beat of silence!! However, all measures have 4 beats.

In Hindustani music, it appears that there is no discussion on time signature. Instead, they have something called “taals”. Similar to different time signatures, there are different taals. A very common taal in Hindustani music is teen taal which is a cycle of 16 beats. This is equivalent to the 4/4 time signature in Western Music. Similar to the pattern in Fig 2, Teen taal is a four times the first measure with no silence beat. However, Adha Teen Tal is four measures with each measure having one silent beat (second) in every measure which brings a different kind of aesthetics in percussion as shown in Fig 3.


         Well, melody is a little more complicated. Both styles of music have 12 notes in them referred as C, C#, D, D#, E, F, G, G#, A, A# and B equivalent to Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni in Hindustani Music and do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, and ti in Western Music respectively. However, in Western Music 2 or more notes can be played together at the same time. One of these set of notes is the “melody and the other set is normally ‘chords. Chords give an additional effect to the melody to suit the mood of the composition. There are two main types of chords. Major and minor. In Hindustani music, chords are not used. Instead, singers use a specific set of notes in ascending and descending order and connecting them through microtones which are in between two notes. While, harmony is the hall mark of Western Music, one should not expect it in Indian Music. Although, rendering styles are different, both systems have 12 notes unlike in South Indian Carnatic Music which uses 16 notes.  Recently, Prof. Dhar from India came out with an innovation of 24 notes and demonstrated them using a newly built harmonium.

Gharanas in Hindustani Music

Ankita Shree Pandurangi

Gharana comes from the Urdu or Hindi language word “Ghar” which means house. In the earlier periods around 155-1700, a set of family people started teaching specific methods to students making them residents in their own home.  Slowly, when the number of followers increased, Gurus set some rules which stamps the nature of Gharana. There are vocal Gharanas, instrumental Gharanas, dance Gharanas prevailed in India.  Let’s start with the vocal gharanas.  There are many vocal gharanas, here are some of them.

Agra Gharana: Some of the things that Agra is famous for is doing deep resonating notes ad putting heavy emphasis on raagas.  They use nom, tom type of words which I am familiar. Some of the famous people from this gharana are Ustad Latafat Hussain Khan, Pandit Dinkar Kaikini.

Gwaliar Gharana: This is the oldest Gharana during the era of Mughal emperor Akbar in the 16th century. They like simple basic raags. Taans and boltaans are theor speciality which is also used in other gharanas. Famous musicians from that gharana are Pt. Digambar Paluskar, Pt. Omkarnath Thakur, Veena Sahasra Buddhe and Malini Rajurkar.

Kirana Gharana: Kirana Gharana is one of the most prolific Hindustani and Pakistani khyal gharanas.  The swaras in the raagas are hit with an unusual accuracy and expansion of swaras seems to have been influenced by Carnatic Music prevalent in South India. Great singers like Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, Gangoobai Hangal, Pt. Basavaraj Rajguru hail from Kirana Gharana. I like Kirana Gharana since my mom sings in that style.

About Authors

My name is Amoolya Raghu Pandurangi and I am in 6th grade at Barnwell Middle. My name is Ankita Shree Pandurangi in 4th Grade, Beck-David Elementary. We are St Louis Pandurangi sisters. We both take dance lessons from Guru Prasanna Kasthuri (specifically, Kathak). We both learn Hindustani Classical Music from my lovely mom, Guru Sandhya Pandurangi and practice my music with Tabla by my Pappa Raghu Pandurangi. We both are taking piano lessons from Miss Anzhelica. Loved to read and cook.