Over the centuries Kashmir, isolated yet positioned at a confluence of civilizations on the Silk Route, developed its own form of classical music.
Central Asian overlays coalesced into the ancient styles of North India to beget the Sufiana Kalaam.
A Sufiana Kalaam performance consists of an ustad, and three musicians (all of them vocalists and instrumentalists) introducing the shakal (alaap) before presenting the baeth (mystic and/or romantic verses) of a maqaam (raga).
The santoor, a type of dulcimer made of mulberry wood and struck by a pair of qalams, is the main instrument.
The other stringed instrument is the sitar plucked with the index finger or a mizrab.
Saz is the bow instrument, while dokru (tabla) provides the rhythm.
There are around fifty Maqaams, or melodic systems of Sufiana Kalaam.
Lalit, Rageshwari, Jaijawanti, Bahar, and other raags from Hindustani Shastriya Sangeet (Indian classical music) co-exist with Araq, Saba, Rehavi, Isfahan, Panjgah and others from Iranian and Central Asian classical music systems in the syncretic Sufiana Kalaam.
The great exponents of the Sufiana Kalaam include Ustad Ghulam Mohammed Qaleenbaf (1909-1994), Ustad Mohammed Abdullah Tibetbaqal (1914-1982) and Ustad Ghulam Mohammed Saznawaaz (1940-2014).
Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed, renowned as a patron of Sufiana Kalaam, and the inimitable R. D Burman in discussion with a group of musicians in Kashmir.
Sufiana Kalaam was the music form favoured by the elite, while the masses enjoyed traditional forms of folk music like Chhakri, Rof and Wanwun.
Chhakri is folk music sung to the accompaniment of sarang, rabab, tumbaknari and nott.
Rof is a form of dance and folk music associated with festivities and marriages while Wanwun is a collection of traditional marriage songs.
Nendbaeth is sung by groups of men and women in the fields while transplanting paddy saplings (nend).
Traditional Hafiz Nagma, is a now-extinct female dance form based on the Sufiana Kalaam.
Bacha Nagma, where a male dancer accompanies the chhakri singers, was introduced in the Afghan period,
The harmonium accompanied by various traditional instruments is extensively used in modern popular Kashmiri music.
Inputs from : kashmirobserver.net