10 Legendary Indian Musicians Who Changed The Face Of Indian Music

Posted at April 5th, 2016 | by Shivani Goel | in Bollywood, Entertainment, Featured, Music

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”  ― Nietzsche

Music is the one thing that binds the world and India has it’s fair share of legendary musicians. Here are 10 classic maestros who you must know about if you don’t already.


Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941)

Tagore was an iconic figure for a lot of things and one of his many talents is being a brilliant musician. He has over 2,230 compositions to his credit and he had created his songs entirely on his own and from scratch. His music is diverse and Rabindrasangeet is almost a genre on it’s own.

Pt. Ravi Shankar (1920 – 2012)

Pandit Ravi Shankar made a vast impact including audiences all across the world. Some of his most ardent followers and students were The Beatles and The Byrds. George Harrison in particular religiously followed his teachings. His accolades were numerous including the Bharat Ratna and 3 Grammy Awards. See his music moving the crowd at a festival in California in the 60’s.


Lata Mangeshkar (1929)

Lata Mangeshkar‘s melodious voice has been revered for decades now. Very few singers have such range in their voices and she’s one of the rare vocalists to be awarded the Bharat Ratna. Her songs are still covered by new musicians, check out one of her most iconic tracks ‘Lag Jaa Gale‘.

Mohammad Rafi (1924 – 1980)

Bollywood wouldn’t have been the same without Mohammad Rafi. His music enhanced the movies and captured the nuances of the scenes. His iconic song ‘Gulabi Aankhein‘ is still covered and played by many musicians.

Hariprasad Chaurasiya (1938)

Hariprasad Chaurasiya is a flautist of unparalleled brilliance. He’s received a Padma Vibushan and a Padma Shree and creates magic with his flute. Check out this bewitching ‘Song of the River‘.

Zakir Hussain (1951)

Ustad Zakir Hussain is the youngest percussionist to receive a Padma Bhushan and a Padma Shree. This maestro weaves magic with his tabla and can put a beat to every millisecond. His performances are riveting.


Bismillah Khan (1913 – 2006)

Bismillah Khan is a spectacular shehnai player and grasped the essence of the culture of India through his music. He’s received a Bharat Ratna and a Padma Vibhushan as well. Check out this clip below, you’ll be able to recognize excerpts in current Bollywood songs.

A. R. Rahman (1987)

Rahman is a living legend and probably the most popular name in Indian music at the moment. He’s internationally recognized and has done collaborations with foreign artists. He’s won ever accolade in the book including a Padma Bhushan and 2 Grammys. It’s difficult to pick one song of his, but this Shahrukh Khan track is iconic.

R. D. Burman (1939 – 1994)

Burman was the man who brought western tunes to the Indian film industry and also experimented with many other genres. He worked outside the box, made his own niche and is still a major influence in the industry.


Mian Tansen (1506 – 1589)

Tansen was one of the 9 jewels (navratnas) of Akbar‘s court. He’s considered a pioneer of classical Indian music and his ragas are still an important part of Indian culture. In many of them he prefixed “mian ki”. Check out Shivkumar Sharma’s rendition of the raga, “Mian ki Malhar”.

Shivani Goel

मुख्य लेखिका


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