Unit 1: Indian Music with Falu
Melody will take us on a journey to India to meet our first artist, Falu. Use SG8, SG9 and SG10 to meet Falu and prepare your students to learn about the music of India.
There are two primary traditions in Indian classical music: Hindustani from northern India, and Carnatic from southern. Falu is trained in the Hindustani tradition, which places a special emphasis on improvisation. Both traditions are based on the concepts of raga and tala. Raga is the melodic structure, a series of notes akin to modes or scales, which establishes the color and the mood of a piece. There are hundreds of ragas; several dozen are used most widely. Tala (“clap” in Sanskrit) encompasses meter and rhythm, defining how the music moves through time. Changes to harmony are not as important in this tradition as they are in Western classical music. Instead, Indian classical music explores changing melodic shapes and ornaments, and the moods and feelings associated with different ragas.
Meet Falu Shah
Falu began her formal musical studies at the age of three in her hometown of Mumbai, India. In her early years, Falu trained rigorously under the late sarangi and vocal master Ustad Sultan Khan, and later with the legendary Kishori Amonkar. She came to the US in 2000, and began to integrate her formidable Indian classical training with a range of styles and genres, resulting in a singular sound. Her original songs and reimagining of Indian classics combine the contemporary with the ancient.
Lesson 1: Learning “Rabba”
Students will sing “Rabba,” and learn how melodies can be modified using ornamentation.
→ Go to Lesson 1: Learning “Rabba”
Lesson 2: Learning “Allahoo”
Students learn “Allahoo,” understand the scale used in the song, and compose melodies using the sargam, a form of Indian solfège.
→ Go to Lesson 2: Learning “Allahoo”
- Classical Music of India: A Practical Guide by L. Subramaniam and Viji Subramaniam
- The Music Room: A Memoir by Namita Devidayal
Listening & Viewing:
- Listen to SMF’s Music of India playlist on Spotify
- Visit falumusic.com to learn more about Falu’s music
- Raga: A Journey to the Soul of India (1971), Ravi Shankar
- Falu’s Bazaar is an album that Falu created specifically for children in three languages—English, Hindi, and Gujarati—to introduce them to Indian culture in New York City (it is available on her website).
- Ustad Sultan Khan, “Yaman”
- Kishori Amonkar, “Alhaiya Bilawal”
Additional Teaching Resources:
- “Gateway Experiences in the Music of North India” on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings: Learn (folkways.si.edu/learn).
- “Rhythm and Raga: Teaching Indian Music in the Classroom” on The Kennedy Center’s ArtsEdge (artsedge.kennedycenter.org).
Unit 1: PDF Downloads
SG8 Let’s Explore Music of India ↓ Download File
SG9 Meet Falu ↓ Download File
SG10 We asked Falu… ↓ Download File
SG11 My Paisley Design ↓ Download File
SG12 Instruments from India ↓ Download File