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Some Facts about Indian Music and Indian Musicians

facts about Indian music

India has got one of the oldest musical traditions and heritages in the world. One can finds its origin in the Vedas(ancient scripts). Known as ‘sangeet’ in India, the nation’s music has got a unique and varied style as compared to other music forms in the world. In the earlier days, when Indian music was just coming of age, the music was devotional in nature. It was restricted only to temples and used for ritualistic purposes. It is said that the sound that pervades the whole universe, i.e. Nadabrahma, itself represents the divinity.Over the period of time each folk form has evolved in a particular region of India . The most prominent forms of such folk music are: Punjab’s Bhangra, Maharashtra’s Lavani, Gujrat’s Dandiya, Sufi form (Devotional music) Qawwali, and Bengal’s Bauls. Now the Indian music is dominated by bollywood numbers and pop music. Here are some interesting facts related to Indian music and Indian musicians :

Oldest Gharana of Hindustani Music

Gwalior Gharana is the oldest gharanas of Hindustani Music, it is one of the oldest Khyal Gharana. There are many Gharans that actually originated from Gwalior Gharana. Nathan Peer Baksh and Nathe Khan were the two people who founded Gwalior Gharana the 16th century.

First Woman Shehnai Player of India

The first woman shehnai wadak of India is Bageshwari Qamar. Renowned Guru Ustad Bismillah khan taught her. She made her debut in the year 1983 and was crowned as “Shehnai Queen” at Chandigarh. Apart from her solo recordings she has also recorded “jugal-bandi” with her teacher Ustad Bismillah Khan. In 1988 she represented India at “The Bharat Mahotsav” in Russia.

First Woman Sarod Player of India:

The first woman Sarod player of India is Sharan Rani. She was born in 1929 in Delhi. Sharan rani is popularly known as Sarod Rani and she played Sarod for almost 70 years. She died on 8th April 2008. She learnt Sarod from great music maestros like Ustad Allaudin Khan and Ustad Ali Akbar. She performed at various shows around the world and was titled as “Cultural Ambassador” by Jawahar Lal Nehru. In 1968 she was awarded The Padma Shri, in 1974 she was awarded Sahitya Kala Parishad, in 1986 she was awarded Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Hindustani Instrumental Music. She is one of the three women who conferred the title as “Gems of India” by the Government of India. The other two women who conferred this title are MS Subbulakshmi and Lata Mangeshkar.

First Music School in India:

The First Music School in India is “Gandharva Mahavidyalaya” in Lahore (which was then a part of India). It was set up by “Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar” on 5th May 1901. Pandit Vishnu Digambar was an Indian classical musician born in Kurundwad (a small town in British Bombay Presidency) Maharashtra. The Music school was run by funds raised by concerts, public support and donations from richer class of the society. Vishnu Digambar returned to Mumbai in September 1908 to start a branch of the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya. Eventually, the Lahore school was shifted to Mumbai after Independence.

First Musician to receive Padma Bhushan Award:

The first musician to receive Padma Bhushan was MS Subbulakshmi. She received Padma Bhusan Award in the year 1954 and Padma Vibhushan Award in 1975. She was also the first musician to receive Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public service in 1974. She was popularly known as the Nightingale of India and was the legendary Carnatic Musician of India. She was born on September 16th 1916 in the temple city of India, Madhurai. She got her Carnatic music training from Semmangudi Srinivas Iyerand then took her Hindustani music training from Pandit Narayan RaoVyas. She is one of the three women who conferred the title as “Gems of India” by the Government of India. The other two women who conferred this title are Sharan Rani and Lata Mangeshkar. In 1988 she was conferred Bharat Ratna.

First Indian to compose Symphony:

The Fist Indian to compose symphony was Illayaraja. In July 1993 Illayaraja composed a full length western classical symphony. It took one month to compose this one hour symphony. Illayaraja is the first Asian whose symphony was performed by John Scott of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The Orchestra is patronized by Queen Elizabeth. The president of the Orchestra is Lord Yehudi Menuhin. He is a renowned lyricist, singer and film composer. Three times he has won National Film Award for Best Music Director. He has provided background music for about 800 Indian Film and about 4000 songs in different languages.

First Gramophone Record in India:

The First gramophone record was made in Kolkata in the year 1898. Thomas Edison invented a sound machine which was called Phonograph in 1877. Hemendra Mohan Bose of Kolkata who was an Indian entrepreneur imported the Phonograph machine and made the cylinder gramophone record. The records were popularly known as Bose’s Records. The Gramophone & Typewriter Ltd recorded the first Indian song in their Beliaghata factory in 1898.

First Folk Album in India:

The First folk album of India was ‘Banjaran’ by Ila Arun. Banjaran was released in the year 1983 and folk songs of Gujarat and Rajasthan. These folk songs were the nomadic ballads from Gujarat and Rajasthan. Ila Arun is famous for her husky voice and her incredible talent. She majorly sings folk songs and has brought folk singing to a height. Her other popular album’s include: Best of Ila, Choli Ke Peeche Vol 2, Haule Haule, Ila Arun Pop Hits, Main Ho Gayi Sawaa Lakh Ki, The Very Best of Ila Arun, and Vote For Ghagra. Ila Arun has also sung and acted in films. Some of her popular film songs include “Choli ke peechhe kya hai” from the film “Khalnayak”, and “Moranee bagaa mein bole aadhi raat maa” from “Lamhe”. Ila Arun won the Filmfare best singer award in 1993 for the song “Choli ke peechhe kya hai”.

The First Compact disc launched in India:

The First Compact disc launched in India was “Shagufta” which was launched by Music India in December 1987. The album was sung by Pankaj Udhas. Pankaj Udhas is a famous Ghazal singer. He has developed his own unique style where Urdu verses of poets are set to music. He was born on May 17, 1951 in Jetpur near Rajkot in Gujarat. His singing was first noticed in the movie “Naam” starring Kumar Gaurav, Sanjay Dutt and Amrita Singh, in which he sung “Chithi aayi Hai” and the song was an instant hit. Some of his popular music albums are: Lamha, Mahek, Muskaan, Humsafar, and Janeman. Pankaj Udhas received Padma Shri in 2006.

First Computerised Album of India

The First computerized Album of India was “Baby Doll” sung by Alisha Chinoy.It was released in the year 1988 by HMV. The sound engineer of the Albus was Rajesh Johri who also happens to be Alisha Chinai’s husband. Alisha is one of the pioneers of pop music in India. Alisha is popularly known as Indian Madonna. Alisha made Indipop history with her music album “Made in India”. The album is one of the biggest selling Hindi pop albums of all time in Indian Music History. Alisha has also done playback singing in Hindi films. Some of her famous numbers include “Kaate nahin kat te- Mr. India”, “Its Rocking – Kya Love Story Hai “, “Aaj Ki Raat – Don”, and “Ticket to Hollywood – Jhoom Barabar Jhoom “. Alisha won Filmfare Best Female Playback Award for her chartbuster number “Kajra Re Kajra re – Bunty aur Bubbly”.

First Hindi Rap Album:

The First Hindi Rap Album was “Thanda Thanda Pani” by Harjeet Singh Sehgal, popularly known as Baba Sehgal. It was a remake of “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice. There was a record sale of more than 30,000 copies. To your surprise Baba Sehgal happens to be an engineer by profession. His first Album was Dilruba (1990) followed by Alibaba (1991). Thanda Thanda Pani was his third album. His music video Dil Dhadke had the distinction of being the first Indian music video ever to be shown on MTV Asia. Baba Sehgal has appeared in the main lead in the Hindi Film “Miss 420”. He has also given music for the movies “Dance Party” and “Bhoot Uncle”.


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