The Arts of  India
All About
Traditional Indian music is made up of three distinct sounds, the “tala,” the “raga” and the “drone.” Ragas (or rags) provide the colour or interesting sounds that are played in certain patterns within the musical piece. The tala is the beat or rhythm that is kept by a percussion instrument or by clapping. The drone is one continuous sound played by one instrument.

In northern India, a style of music called “hindustani” has the three types of sounds played by unique instruments. The “sitar” is a stringed instrument made from a hollow gourd with a wooden neck. It has six or seven strings that are played by the musician and up to nineteen other strings that vibrate in resonance or “sympathy” with the strings that are plucked or strummed. The “tabla” are a pair of drums used for the tala sound. The “shehnai” is a wind instrument that makes the continuous drone sound. The shennai player must use a technique called circular breathing to blow without stopping.

In Southern parts of India the music, called “carnatic,” has the same three elements but uses different instruments. A “veena,” (or vina) is similar to the sitar, creates the ragas. A tambura or tanpura is a stringed instrument that looks like a sitar without frets creates the drone sound. A small flute-like instrument called a “venu” and a drum called the “mirdangam” are also commonly used.
Indian Music
 Listen to Samples 
 Carnatic Music
Hindustani Music

Dance has been very important as a way of sharing Hindu stories and folktales. People in India believe that music and dance are gifts from the gods.
Traditional dances are different in the different regions of India. Most use decorative jewelry, costumes, gestures and facial movements to tell stories or show feelings and ideas of beauty or religious importance.

 Music and Dance in India from Discovery Channel Video
 Dances of India

Art Objects

India has been home to many art forms for several thousand years. All forms of art including crafts, jewelry, architecture, literature, sculptures, painting, music, dance forms and theatre have been present in India for at least 2000 years. The techniques for these have been handed down by word of mouth among communities and clans that specialize in different methods.

Paintings on pots and in caves using earth or vegetable dyes from the first century (2000 years ago) have been found.

Rangoli is an important form of art practiced by many people in India today. It is made of two words, 'rang' which means color and 'aavalli' which means colored creepers or rows. Rangoli is the art of making temporary designs or patterns on walls or the floor of a house, using fine coloured powders. Rangoli is used as part of festivals such as Diwali and celebrations in many parts of India.

 Modern Art in India
 Art Objects from India
 Links to Other Indian Art Sites
 Art India

There are more movies made (over 800 per year) in India than in any other country. The three cities of Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata are the centres of movie making in India. The term, Bollywood, is used to describe the movie making industry in India that is based in Mumbai. Movies are mostly produced for the people of India who are avid movie viewers.
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A shehnai is an oboe-like instrument that provides a continuous drone in Indian music.


Music from southern India is called carnatic and has distinct ragams (melodies) and talas (rhythms).

Kathakali is a dance drama from Kerala state in southern India. It joins literature, painting, dance, music and acting in a live performance to portray stories from ancient Hindu writings.

Traditional art in India was used to tell stories that were important in the religious or cultural beliefs of the people.