Hindustani Music


If you haven’t listened to much Indian classical music before, a full twenty-four hours may feel intimidating or seem like a test of your physical endurance or your ability to maintain concentration on an unfamiliar, complex, and subtle kind of music. It doesn’t have to be that way.

First, relax – this is not a marathon! There will be plenty of room to rest, nap or stretch your legs during intermissions, you’re free to leave for a break and return, and meals and plenty of tea and coffee are available. We’ll even forgive you for dozing in your seat (as long as you don’t snore and disturb your neighbors).

Second, while most open-minded listeners will enjoy Hindustani classical music intuitively, some parts – especially the alap (prelude) – will make more sense if you have a better sense of how they fit into a performance’s structure. Mastering all the subtleties of Indian classical music would take many lifetimes, but the following pages should get you through your first 24 hours.

Next: Vocal Music and Instruments