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Tansen / तानसेन

Tansen, the legendary musician of Akbar's court, had his early training in the school founded by Raja Mansingh Tomar of Gwalior . Among the many works attributed to him are a treatise named the 'Ragamala', many 'Dohas' describing the 'lakshanas' or the attributes of ragas, 'Sangeet Saar', and 'Shri Ganesh Stotra'. According to some scholars, Tansen reduced the 4000 ragas and raginis of his time into a system of 400. He also reduced 92 talas to 12. He is said to have created many ragas like 'Miyan Malhar' and 'Miyan ki todi'. Tansen's Senia gharana divided into two streams. His elder son Bilaskhan headed the Rabab-players gharana and his second son Suratsen the sitar-players gharana.

The Mughals - Music in Akbar's court

During the Mughal period, and especially under Akbar's reign, temple music took a back seat and Darbar Sangeet came into being. Music was composed mainly to eulogise patrons. Information about music in Akbar's court comes from the "Ain e Akbari" of Abul Fazl (1551-1602 AD). Abul was a courtier in Akbar's darbar. There were numerous musicians in the court, Hindus, Iranis , Kashmiris and Turanis, both men and women. The musicians were divided into seven orders. There was one for each day of the week. Headed by the legendary Tansen, there were 19 singers, three who chanted and several instrumental musicians. The main instruments were the sarmandal, bin, nay, karna and tanpura. The musicians came from far and wide, and the music was rich and varied. Akbar's court was witness to a complete fusion of the Persian and Indian music systems.

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