The Hindustani Classical Music is the North Indian style of classical music. It is a tradition that originated in Vedic ritual chants and has been evolving from the 12th century. The hindustani classical music is monophonic in nature and based around a single melody line, which is played over a fixed drone. The performance is based melodically on particular ragas and rhythmically on talas.
The advent of the Islamic rule under the Delhi Sultanate and later the Mughal Empire over northern India caused considerable cultural interchange. The musicians received patronage in the courts of the new rulers. As the Mughal Empire came into closer contact with Hindus, especially under Jalal ud-Din Akbar, music and dance also flourished. This helped spur the fusion of Hindu and Muslim ideas to bring forth new forms of musical synthesis like Qawwali and Khayal.
Tansen, the magical musician, was one of the ‘Navratna’ at the court of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Tansen is recognized as having introduced a number of innovations, ragas as well as particular compositions. After the dissolution of Mughal Empire, the patronage of music continued in smaller princely kingdoms like Lucknow, Patiala, and Banaras, giving rise to the diversity of styles that is today known as Gharanas. Many musician families obtained large grants of land which made them self sufficient, at least for a few generations.
The major vocal forms-cum-styles associated with Hindustani classical music are Dhrupad, Khayal, and Tarana. Other forms include Dhamar, Trivat, Chaiti, Kajari, Tappa, Tap-Khayal, Ashtapadis, Thumri, Dadra, Ghazal and Bhajan; most of these are folk or semi-classical or light classical music, as they often do not adhere to the rigorous rules and regulations of classical music. There is a significant amount of Persian influence in Hindustani music, in terms of the instruments, the style of presentation, and melodies such as Hijaz Bhairav, Bhairavi, and Yaman. Hindustani music has assimilated various folk tunes. The prime themes of Hindustani music are romantic love, nature, and devotionals.