Music in India is broken into two main categories - folk and classical. Though they have similar characteristics they are played by different classes of people. The classical style is enjoyed and played mostly by the upper class while many classes enjoy and perform folk music.
Some folk styles have similar characteristics of classical style such as rhythm, meter and ragas (a series of 5 or more musical notes upon which a melody is founded). Over 500 folk instruments have been collected in India but musicians say that is just the tip of the iceberg. Some folk instruments have been adopted by classical musicians. A sarangi has been a favorite accompaniment instrument in classical circles. The shehnai is also a popular instrument in both groups.
Classical music, first performed only in temples and courts, has its origins as a meditation tool for attaining self-realization. One of the most complex and complete musical systems ever developed, it uses very small intervals of sound. The sound is monophonic consisting of melody without accompanying harmony. Some popular Indian instruments include sitar, sarod, tambura, shehnai, sarangi and tabla.
Musical instruments from the Indian culture are listed below. Please also see the instrument categories on the left to explore additional musical instruments from India.