Indian classical music is made up of traditions and styles that have often been passed down from guru to disciple for thousands of years. We won’t pretend to sum up this vast genre: instead, ready for the weekend, we’ve put together a playlist of our current favourite ragas.
Ali Akbar Khan was a master of the sarod, a fretless mandolin-style instrument considered by some to be the ancestor of the Middle-Eastern oud. Alongside Pandit Ravi Shankar, with whom he first performed in 1939, he is considered have been foremost in popularising Indian classic music in the last century.
Another Sarod virtuoso, Buddhadev Das Gupta studied under Pandit Radhika Mohan Maitra for nearly half a century while also pursuing an alternate career as a civil electrical engineer.
Ustad Sultan Khan played the sarangi, a Nepalese string instrument played with a bow and renowned for its ability to imitate the human voice. Working in radio, he made his lucky break at the age of 28 when he met Lata Mangeshkar and followed her to Mumbai. He is joined on this version of Raga Zila by U Srinivas, a South Indian mandolin player from a new generation of classical Indian musicians who have been heavily influenced by jazz.
Amjad Ali Khan, our third sarod player, represents the sixth generation of musicians in his family, and was taught by his father Hafiz Ali Khan, who was highly influential on sarod technique at the beginning of the 20th Century.
Hariprasad Chaurasia is a towering figure in Indian Classical music. A flute player from Uttar Pradesh, he is known for his innovative rhythmic technique.
Shivkumar Sharma was born in what is now the state of Jammu and Kashmir. He has played a vital role in promoting the santoor, a hammered dulcimer which comes from his home state but can be traced back to the ancient Middle East.
Born in Maharashtra, Shruti Sadolkar is a scholar and singer, and has toured extensively across the world. She was trained in the Khyal singing tradition, whch takes its inspiration from rousing Sufi qawwali, or devotional singing.
We finish our playlist with violinist, composer, conductor and all-round giant L. Subramaniam. Born in Chennai, he is credited with claiming the violin for Indian Classical music, and has collaborated with leading figures in the Western tradition including Yehudi Menuhin and Stéphane Grappelli.