Day 2 – Q 3. Stringed and percussion instruments form an integral component of India’s musical tradition. Illustrate

  • IASbaba
  • November 29, 2022
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Art & Culture, GS 1, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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3. Stringed and percussion instruments form an integral component of India’s musical tradition. Illustrate. 

तंतु और तबला वाद्य यंत्र भारत की संगीत परंपरा के अभिन्न अंग हैं। समझाएं।

Approach –

In this question candidates need to write about how stringed and percussion instruments form integral component of India’s musical tradition.

Introduction –

Instruments integral component to Hindustani classical music are the sitar, sarod, tambura, sahnai, sarangi, and tabla; while instruments integral to Carnatic classical music includes the vina, mrdangam, kanjira, and violin they can be classified into stringed and percussion instruments.

Body –

Natya Shastra, compiled by Bharat Muni, divides musical instruments into four main categories on the basis of how sound is produced.

  • Tata Vadya / Chordophones- Stringed instruments.
  • Sushira Vadya / Aerophones- Wind instruments.
  • Avanaddha Vadya / Membranophones- Percussion instruments.
  • Ghana Vadya / Idiophones- Solid instruments.


  • Veena was the generic term for stringed instruments referred to in texts. Another class is of the dulcimer type, where a number of strings are stretched on a box of wood, Example sata-tantri veena-the hundred stringed veena.
  • There are several Gharanas for playing Sitar, including Jaipur, Varanasi, and Etawah (Imaad Khani).
  • The Veena, one of the most ancient and revered instruments of Goddess Saraswati, is also included in this category of musical instruments.
  • Sarangi is valued as the only string instrument that comes closest to the human voice.
  • Being the only instrument that can produce almost all the nuances of vocal music in any style dhrupad, khayal, thumri and tappa, the Sarangi enjoyed importance as the only stringed accompaniment suitable for classical vocal music.
  • Like many stringed instruments used in classical Indian music, the modern sitar has sympathetic strings that sound only when one of the primary strings is struck on the same note.



  • Tabla pair is used as accompaniment to vocal and instrumental Hindustani music and with many dance forms of northern India.
  • Complicated talas of the Hindustani music are played with great virtuosity on the tabla.
  • Prominent musicians playing the tabla today are-Ustad Alla Rakha Khan and his son Zakir Hussain, Shafat Ahmed and Samata Prasad
  • But, in fact, the barrel-shaped drum has been played in Punjab since the time of the fifth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Arjan Dev (1563-1606). Without the accompaniment of the pakhawaj, no Gurbani kirtan would ever have sounded quite the same.


  • This folk instrument is found in various parts of Uttar Pradesh. Dholak can be played in three ways- on the player’s lap, while standing, or pressed down with one knee while sitting on the floor.


  • It is a local instrument, found in Ladakh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Bihar and other parts of North India. It is used by the Lamas in ritualistic dance in Ladakh. Moreover, it is used by ‘Kudukuduppai Andi’ of Tamil Nadu and by mendicants, snake charmers, gypsies and jugglers in North India.


  • This traditional instrument is found in various parts of South India. It is a popular bifacial drum of Carnatic music and is used as an accompaniment in South Indian Classical music.


  • This indigenous instrument is found in many parts of India including Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Bihar. Majorly used by ‘Ho’ tribes of Madhya Pradesh. Also used in the ‘Seraikella’ Chhau dance of Bihar and as an accompaniment with ‘Shehnai’ on festive occasions.


Music is an integral part of ceremonies and the performing arts, such as dance and theatre. Each village has its unique musical style and song heritage. Hence stringed and percussion instruments become integral part Indian musical tradition.

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