North India

Arrival: North India

Map of India

India’s Northern cities include Mumbai, Pune, and Delphi and are home to a very diverse group of people. Waves of immigration and attackers over the years have brought lots of different people to this area.

  • Most of the people coming into India came from the northwest, especially Persia. This movement of people brought the Islamic religion to India.
  • The Northern region is also well known for its elaborate Mosques, a place of worship in the Islamic religion.

Music of North India: The Raga Improvisation

Playing the Sitar

Drums called Tabla


Watch the video, then read on!

The Raga is an instrumental piece and is based on improvisation, which simply means making it up as you go!

  • The Raga can be almost an hour long, and has a distinct shape – it begins slowly, with one sitar playing, and then another joins it. Finally, the drums come in and the a steady beat accompanies the music.
  • In the Raga, musicians use a set of notes organized in a group called a scale. In the West we use “do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do” but in India they use “sa-re-ga-ma-pa-dha-ni-sa”. You’ll notice this difference when you listen!
  • The main instruments used are the sitar and the tabla drums. The sitar is similar to a guitar but has more strings and is tuned differently (see above) and the tabla is a set of two drums that make different sounds.

Ravi Shankhar, a legendary sitar player, became famous in the West when he played with the Beatles and taught them to play the sitar! Watch this video of the Beatles song ‘Norwegian Wood’ and see if you recognize the sound of the sitar from the Raga.


Source: World Music: A Global Journey, Miller and Shahriari