Chapter 5 - South Asia

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Chapter 5 introduces the music and associated cultural activities from South Asia, including north and south India, as well as Pakistan. The opening site deals in depth with Hindustani Raga, a prominent classical style from the region, introducing readers to fundamental features of form, style, instrumentation, pedagogy, and cultural associations.  Carnatic vocal performance complements this examination of classical literature, followed by explorations of dance (Kathakali), devotional song (bhajan) typically performed by non-professionals, and popular film song from India.  Qawwali, also a type of devotional song related to Sufis, is studied in association with Pakistan, followed by a brief introduction to bhangra, a folk music that evolved into a global popular music genre.

Key Terms

  • Alap (also Alapana)
  • Anundrutam
  • Anupallavi
  • Aradhana
  • Bansri (also Bansuri)
  • Bauls
  • Baya
  • Bhajan
  • Bhangra
  • Bin
  • Bollywood
  • Bols
  • Caranam
  • Carnatic (also Karnatak)
  • Caste system
  • Chiz
  • Dhrupad
  • Dilruba
  • Drutam
  • Filmi (also Filmi Git)
  • Gat
  • Ghunur
  • Gopiyantra (also Ektara)
  • Gospel
  • Guru
  • Hanuman
  • Harmonium
  • Hindustani
  • Jaltarang
  • Jati
  • Jhala
  • Jor
  • Kartal
  • Kathakali
  • Khyal
  • Kriti
  • Laghu
  • Lata Mangeshkar
  • Mode
  • Mridangam
  • Nagasvaram
  • Pallavi
  • Qawwali (also Kawwali)
  • Raga
  • Rama
  • Rasa
  • Ravana
  • Ravi Shankar
  • Sarangi
  • Sarod
  • Sita
  • Sitar
  • Solfege
  • Sympathetic strings
  • Tabla
  • Tala
  • Tavil
  • Theka
  • Venu
  • Vina


Practice Quiz

Interactive Listening Guides


For more world music videos, visit the World Music YouTube Channel.

Ustad Ail Akbar Khan
Sathya Sai Baba Singing “Govinda Krishna Jay” Bhajan
Sowmya: On Carnatic Music
Kiranavali: Carnatic Vocal Recital
Sowmya: Carnatic Vocal Recital

On Your Own Time Links

Links and Further Resources


The Raga Guide: A Survey of 74 Hindustani Ragas. Nimbus Records, NI 5536/9, 1999.
Ganti, Tejaswini. Bollywood: A Guidebook to Popular Hindi Cinema. New York: Routledge, 2004. (2nd edition, 2012)
Lavezzoli, Peter. The Dawn of Indian Music in the West. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, Inc., 2007.
Nelson, David P. Solkattu Manual: An Introduction to the Rhythmic Language of South Indian Music. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2008.
The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Music of India. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
Ali Akbar—College of Music
Chhandayan (Indian Classical Music)
Official website of Ravi Shankar
Popular Artists from India:
A.R. Rahman
Lata Mangeshkar
Asha Bhosle
Sukhwinder Singh
Alka Yagnik
Udit Narayan
Malkit Singh
Daler Mehndi


Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Shahen Shah. Real World Records, 1989.
Qureshi, Regula Burckhardt. Sufi Music of India and Pakistan: Sound, Context, and Meaning. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Pakistani Music
Popular Artists from Pakistan:
Ahmed Rushdi
Nazia Hassan
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan