Top 15 Types of Music in India Based on Region, Genre and Era

Music has always been a significant aspect of the lives of Indian people. One can witness the rich cultural diversity through different types of music in India. The uniqueness of various music genres not only brings us together but has billions of fans worldwide. However, the Indian music influence on western music is as old as the Beatles.

Further in this article, we have discussed in detail the types of music in India that vary by region, genre and era. So, let’s take a look at it without any further ado!

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Types of Music in India Based on the Era

Let’s take a look at the types of Indian music based on the era:

Hindustani Music

Hindustani music originated in the Vedic period and is considered northern music. The musicians in the ancient days used to play Hindustani music as religious hymns. Earlier it was considered a part of Carnatic music. However, with the Persian influence in the 14th century, it stood up as a type of music on its own. Nowadays, Hindustani music is hugely represented in Bollywood and is more familiar to the western world.

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Carnatic Music

Carnatic music emerged from South India in the early 14th century during the empire of Vijayanagar. Due to its southern origin, the music has more Hindu influence and less Asian and Persian influence. Carnatic music is very similar to Hindustani music and has been a vital part of film music throughout the last century.

Light Classical Music

Indian classical music is categorized into a wide variety of styles that are somewhat similar but have minor differences. These are known as ‘light classical music’ or ‘semi-classical’ Indian music such as Natya, Chaiti, Bhajan, Sangeet, Kajri, Thumri, Qawwali, Gazal, Dadar and Tappa.

Types of Music in India Based on Region

Let’s take a look at the types of Indian music based on region:

Bengali Folk

Bengali folk music commonly known as Tagore or Rabindra sangeet are pieces of music written and composed by Rabindranath Tagore, a Nobel prize winner and a popular Indian polymath.

He wrote over 2,200 songs in Bengali, which is now widely used in traditional folk music across the country as a source of inspiration. Due to its unique distinctive Bengali feature, Bengali folk music is very popular in our country and Bangladesh.


Lavani is a popular music form in Maharashtra which is a combination of dance and songs that are performed using Dholakia, which is an Indian musical instrument.

Lavani music has a powerful rhythm and quick tempo. This form of folk music has a significant influence on Marathi’s theatre. Although anyone can play this music, it is mostly played by females while wearing long sarees.

Bhangra and Modern Bhangra

Bhangra is popular folk music related to the Punjab region and is widely practised among Punjabi communities in India and other parts of the world. The bhangra originally began in the late 1970s among the British Punjabi and found its way into Indian culture. Along with bhangra, Gidda is a popular female dance in Punjab that is generally practised with bhangra music.

The modern bhangra is a little different from Punjabi bhangra. Modern bhangras are typical song structures that include a single chorus with four verses and two instrumental bridge sections. On the other hand, Punjabi folk music is much simpler and includes as little as one or two verses for the entire song.


Manipuri folk music is the traditional music of Manipur. It is mainly performed by the Manipuri people in the foothills of the Himalayas and the Indo-Myanmar border region. Manipuri music has a deep religious root and uses an ancient instrument known as Pena. Pena is considered a national symbol of the people of Manipur. It is locally made from bamboo rods and the round shell of gourds or coconuts.


Dandiya or Raas is a popular form of Gujarati folk music that is performed in the form of dance using sticks in the festival of Navratri. Although this type of music is originally connected to Gujarat, it is also celebrated in Rajasthan and Marwar regions.

Traditional Indian music instruments like dhols, tabla and Dholak are used in this socio-religious folk music.


Bihu is considered a festival of new year which is celebrated in Assam state in India. The festival is accompanied by special upbeat music that uses traditional wind instruments and drums that are an integral part of the celebration such as the Pepa made from buffalo horn, gogonas, dhol, drums, etc.

Hadrami Marfa

This type of music was introduced in India in the 18th century by the East African Siddi community that lived in the Hyderabad State of India. It is celebratory music that is greatly influenced by the Hadramawt region in Yemen. It is known for its celebratory rhythm and high tempo and use of instruments like sticks, dhols, daff, steel pots and thapi wooden strips for music.


The folk music in the Uttrakhand region is entwined with songs and ballads about the manner and social legacy that the Himalayans live by. They use special melodic instruments like Hudak, Dhols, Daur, Thali, Dholak, Ransingha, Tutarri, Bhankora, Damoun and Maska Baja for playing the music.

Kalbelia of Rajasthan

Rajasthan has one of the most iconic music and dance styles in India, which is a cultural ritual of the kalbelia. They have their unique style of songs and dances that is based on the movement of a serpent. The Kalbelia of Rajasthan uses an array of instruments in the celebrations such as the pungi, which is a traditional wind instrument used by the Indian snake charmers and percussion instruments which include khanjari, dafli, dholak, khuralio, etc.

In 2010, UNESCO announced this unique form of folk music as a part of its Intangible Heritage List.

Types of Music in India Based on Genre

Let’s take a look at the types of music in India based on genre:

Indian Pop Music

Even though Indians love their culture, Indian pop music is the most popular genre across the country because of Bollywood movies. The adaptation of pop music in India is all about the combination of Indian classical and folk music with a blend of modern beats from all over the world.

Raga Rocks

This is an Indian adaptation of rock music. It reflects strong Indian characteristics that include the element of traditional Indian instruments and Indian musical construction and beat.

Raga Rocks was initially introduced when many western rock bands, especially the Beatles, used Indian classical music as an influence for their music in the late 60s.

Indian Dance Music

The youngsters in India are huge fans of electronic dance music (EDM). It is also popularly known as ‘DJ Music’ and is generally based on pop music songs or popular Indian movies. It often combines elements of Indian music with western EDM, creating something truly unique!

Wrapping it Up!

Indian music has diversified over time and the Indian music industry is considered one of the biggest entertainment industries in the country. With a unique amalgamation of old-style music and present-day beats from various parts of the world, Indian music is often inspired by various parts of the country and is loved worldwide.

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