Modern Music

A revival in Indian music took place towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Rabindranath Tagore composed unique songs which go under the name of ‘Rabindra Sangeet’. Furthermore, the patriotic fervor of the early 20th century drew many musicians into the freedom struggle. Ex: Kazi Nazrul Islam, Vishnu Digamabar Paluskar, Subramania Bharati.

Some of the important developments during this are:

  • In 1901, Vishnu Digamabar Paluskar setup Gandharva Mahavidyalaya in Lahore to dilute the stranglehold that gharanas had over classical music and to expand the base of the art.
  • Marris college of Music was setup in Lucknow in 1926 by Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande to revive the art of music
  • An All-India music academy was established in 1919 for research, study and for better understanding of the art of music in India
  • In 1928, the Madras Music academy to revive the interest in Carnatic music
  • Modernism in Indian music:
    • The traditions of Indian music was also influenced by the modernism that the world experienced in various art forms
    • Modernism can be defined as a period of diverse reactions in challenging and reinterpreting older categories of music, innovations that led to new ways of organizing and approaching harmonic, melodic, sonic, and rhythmic aspects of music
    • Such an artistic current led to new genres of music such as- Jazz, pop-music, freestyle, alternative R&B etc
    • There were cross-cultural collaborations between India artists and artists across the world. This led to intermingling of Indian classical music tradition with that of the new art forms. Ex: In the early 1960s Jazz pioneers such as John Coltrane and George Harrison collaborated with Indian instrumentalists and started to use Indian instruments such as sitar in their songs; In the late 1970s and early 1980s, rock and roll fusions with Indian music were well known throughout Europe and North America etc

Impact of western Music on Indian musical traditions

Globalization and the rise of technology coupled with the increasing adoption of western way is creating both opportunities and threats for the survival of Indian musical traditions.


    • Wider acknowledgement of Indian classical music traditions. This can be evidenced in the growth and respect that artists such as Pandit Ravi Shankar, Zakir Hussain, AR Rehman have gained at the global stage
    • Revival of Indian classical music traditions due to interest expressed by global artists. Ex: Shankar Tucker, a famous western exponent of clarinet in the world
    • Increased livelihood opportunities for traditional artists in the country
    • Enrichment of Indian musical traditions. Ex: Indie-pop


    • Many students are preferring to take up western music due to the economic growth it provides
    • Western music is becoming the preferred taste amongst the common people.
    • Inability of the traditional artists to cope up with modern methods of composing and marketing their products when compared to western artists, since the latter have access to greater resources
    • Increasing westernization even in the rural areas of the country is a threat to the livelihood of the local artists
    • Popular cinema across all languages have been showcasing a dangerous trend to prefer western forms of music over the Indian musical forms in recent times

Way forward

    • Care must be taken to ensure sufficient funding is provided to classical artists to pursue their art
    • Awareness training at the school-level could help in encouraging the students to take up classical music training
    • Creating sufficient livelihood opportunities for traditional artists in the country
    • Institutions such as ‘Sangeet Natak academy’ has to be equipped with sufficient resources to research and come up with solutions to ensure all aspects of the rich tradition of music continues to survive and thrive in the society