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International Music Resources by Country: India

International Music Resources offers an array of online and physical resources both freely available and/or offered by the George F. DeVine Music Library. The information included in these guides may serve as a starting point for the study and research of

Kolkata, Victoria MemorialCitation (1)

Map of India

Map of India

Citation (3)

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music-India

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music Cover Art



Music of Southern India Album Art

Le Chant du mohini Attam Album Art

Prem Dhara Flow of Love Cover Art

Facts in Brief

Flag of India


Capital: New Delhi

Official Languages: Hindi, English, Sanskrit, and 20 regional languages

Current Population: 1.38 billion

National Anthem: "Jana-gana-mana" (Thou Art the Ruler of the Minds of All People)

Largest Cities: Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad


Religious Indian Music


Bhajan (from Sanskrit: bhajana) is the generic term identifying popular Hindu religious songs associated with bhakti, an approach to union with God. The bhajan literature is extensive, comprising many thousands of songs in many languages, including Sanskrit. Bhajan also denotes a genre of religious ritual exercised in all parts of India. The rites are usually congregational, ranging in number of participants from three or four to many thousands. The Sanskrit words bhajana and bhakti are both derived from the root word bhaj (‘to share’ or ‘to give of’) and are connected with an approach to God in which the relationship of the worshipper to the deity is based on attitudes of love.

The musical elements in bhajan are intended to convey the all-important words. The rhythms used are comparatively uncomplicated, usually employing a tāla (time cycle) consisting of four beats. Melodies, especially those sung congregationally, are simple, direct, and generally lack the complexities found in classical music. Bhajan songs are composed in rāgas that are limited to a few identifiable characteristics and are therefore easily recognized by the general public. Bhajan songs generally include either refrain-type or jāpa forms; the number of lines in refrains and stanzas and the numbers of repetitions of refrains vary with each performance. 

Musical instruments are used to accompany most bhajan songs and rituals. Although drums and cymbals are most common, any instruments may be employed by worshippers. Pairs of brass cymbals (tāltāḷam), generally ranging from 2 to 15 cm in diameter and varying greatly in shape and gauge, are struck together by singing devotees. Wooden or metal clappers (kartāl) of varying size with jingles or tiny bells mounted on them are also played by worshippers. The harmonium, a keyboard instrument originally brought to India by Christian missionaries, is a highly valued instrument.  The tambūrā (a long-necked fretless lute) and śruti -box (either an electronic drone or a small harmonium with a limited number of reeds) are also widely used drone instruments. 

Citation (4)

Streaming Video: JVC Video Anthology of World Music & Dance-India

Musician Highlight: Lata Mangeshkar

Lata Mangeshkar headshot

Lata Mangeshkar


Indian film playback singer . The best-known and respected female singer in the history of Indian film music, Lata Mangeshkar has recorded more film songs than any other singer. As the eldest daughter of Marathi stage actor-singer and travelling theatre owner Mangeshkar she received no formal schooling and was forced to support her mother and four younger siblings when her father died in 1942. Lata immediately joined the film industry as an actress-singer with a Marathi film company, Prafulla Pictures in Pune. For a short time she also became a disciple of classical singer Aman Ali Khan Bindibazarwala, then after his departure to Pakistan in 1947 she studied with Amanat Ali until his death in 1951. Lata sang her first Marathi film playback song in 1942, and her first playback for a Hindi film in 1947, Pa lagun kar jori re for Aap ki sewa mein. Lata's high-pitched, thin voice differed from the prevailing full-throated style of Hindi film actress-singers Noorjehan, Suraiya, Zohrabai and others, but after the success of her songs in Majboor (1948), composed by director Ghulam Haider, all the leading Hindi film music directors offered her song recordings.

During the 1950s and 60s she recorded an average of five songs per day. With competition only from the few other leading female playback artists – namely Geeta Dutt, Shamshad Begum and her sister Asha Bhosle – Lata's songs gained enormous, widespread popularity via film, radio and commercial recordings. She won the annual Filmfare award for Best Female Playback Singer in 1958 (A ja re pardesi in Madhumati), in 1962 (Kahin dip jale in Bees saal baad), in 1965 (Tumhi mere mandir in Khandaan), and in 1969 (for Ap mujhe acche lagne lage in Jeene ki raah), after which she renounced all Filmfare awards in favour of younger singers, besides a Lifetime award. In addition to singing Lata has composed music for five Marathi films, four under the pseudonym Anandghan, and has produced films in both Marathi and Hindi. Her numerous honours include the Presidential Padma Bhushan award in 1969, honorary citizenship of the USA presented in Houston, Texas, in 1987, the Dada Saheb Phalke award for her lifetime contribution to cinema in 1989, and the 1996 Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana for her outstanding contribution to the nation through her singing. Lata Mangeshkar continues to record film songs and spends several months each year on concert tours around the world.

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(1): "Kolkata, Victoria Memorial" by "pxfuel"

(2): Lal, A., & Lal, V. (2021). India. In World Book Advanced.

(3): Country Map (India), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville.Retrieved 03 March 2021 from

(4): Qureshi, R., Powers, H., Katz, J., Widdess, R., Geekie, G., Dick, A., Sen, D., Jairazbhoy, N., Manuel, P., Simon, R., Palackal, J., Brar, S., Kelting, M., Henry, E., Lord, M., Arnold, A., Pinckney, W., Vatsyayan, K., Wade, B., & Kaur, I.  India, subcontinent of. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 13 Oct. 2021, from