‘Hindustani’ is the name given to the classical music of North India, while Carnatic is the name given to the music of South India (sometimes spelled as Karnatic). According to Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy, the contemporary version of North Indian tradition emerged around the 14th or 15th century. Hindustani music is one of the two primary genres of South Asian classical music, and it is predominantly found in the northern three-quarters of the subcontinent, where Indo-Aryan languages are spoken.
Its origins may be traced back over 6,000 years to the Vedic writings, where chants formed a system of musical notes and rhythmic cycles. In this sense, Indian classical music is intimately connected to nature, drawing inspiration from natural events such as seasons and times of day to create ‘ragas,’ or musical moods, as well as several time cycles, or ‘taals,’ which have been codified. The majority of the music is improvised within the structure of notes and mathematics, although the compositions are fixed. This gives the music a sense of freedom, ensuring that each performer and performance is absolutely unique.
Beginning in the 13th century, when the Islamic conquest of northern sections of the subcontinent introduced very important Arab and Persian musical styles that later blended with Hindu traditions, the two systems increasingly diverged. The use of ragas, the rhythmic principles of tala, and the practice of nonmetric, rhythmically ‘free’ improvisation are all shared by northern and southern India. Although vocal music is significant, instrumental music is more prominent in Hindustani music than it is in Karnatak; some purely instrumental forms exist, such as the gat theme with variations. The sitar, sarod, sarangi, shehnai, tabla, and tambura are the most popular Hindustani instruments.