Difference Between Indian Classical Music and Bollywood Music

Music is a pleasing sound entering our ears. Music is composed of melody, rhythm, and harmony and is based on the seven notes, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni and thus a musical composition is formed.

Music generally has various genres like a ballad, pop, indie, jazz, hip hop, rock, however in India, there are two popular kinds of music styles. These are Indian classical music and Bollywood music.

Indian Classical Music VS Bollywood Music

The main difference between Indian classical music and Bollywood music is that Indian classical music is the primary vocal training genre of Indian music, whereas, on the other hand, Bollywood music is the music that one hears in Bollywood films, albums, and singles. A person who is trained in Indian classical music can also aspire to see themselves in the Bollywood music industry.

Indian Classical Music VS Bollywood Music

The music originating in the Indian subcontinent is called Indian classical music. The roots of Indian classical music can be traced in the Vedic literature itself.

Indian classical music is influenced by the natural elements of earth as can be seen in the ragas. For instance, raga Megh Malhar has the power to bring down rain on the earth’s surface.

Bollywood music is a musical genre having the essence of the music performed in Bollywood. The inspiration of Bollywood music can be felt from both classical and modern sources.

Although Bollywood music contains a lot of dance routines, it is not similar to western musical theatre. Bollywood music has every element of music from traditional to folk, classical to western.

Comparison Table Between Indian Classical Music and Bollywood Music

Parameters of ComparisonIndian Classical musicBollywood Music
PurposeIt helps in enlightening the soul.It is commercially very profitable.
Derived fromIndian classical music has been derived from traditional folk songs.Bollywood music has been derived from Indian ragas.
Type of musicClassical music is the base for Indian classical music.Indie pop music is the base for Bollywood music.
Musical instrumentsSome of the instruments used in Indian classical music are Harmonium, Tabla, Veena, Sitar, Tanpura, Violin.Keyboard, Piano, Guitar, Synthesizer, Saxophone are used in Bollywood music.
UsesIt can be seen performed in classical events.Bollywood music is produced mostly in Bollywood movies.

What is Indian Classical Music?

Indian classical music is the music of the Indian subcontinent and has been developed in South Asia.

In the later Vedic period, Sangama, a type of ritualistic music was played which led to the development of classical music in India. Natyashastra is the first book where an elaborated understanding of Indian music can be found.

Indian classical music has ragas, talas, dhrupad, alankar, arohan, abrohan, etc. Ragas and talas are the most significant elements, which act as their foundational component.

Raga includes the melodious swara based on the seven musical notes and tala is the cyclical timing upon which the raga runs.

Indian classical music can be subdivided into North Indian classical music (also known as Hindustani music where ragas are improvised) and South Indian classical music (further known as Carnatic music which has performances based on short composition).

Indian classical music has also been influenced by Arab and Persian music which helped in the creation of new ragas and instrumental development such as sarod.

Indian classical music is commemorated through the organization of various festivals, some of which are Ninaad Sangeet Mahotsav, Sabrang Utsav, Saptak Annual Festival of Music, Sankat Mochan Sangeet Samaroh.

Along with that, SPIC MACAY, a youth movement voluntarily holds various events related to Indian classical music and dance each year.

What is Bollywood Music?

Bollywood music is the songs with different emotions like happiness, sadness, excitement, anger, afraid, etc featured in Bollywood movies. It is also known as Hindi geet or filmi songs.

Bollywood music is music extenuated with playful melodies and dance beats. It also shows Indian art and culture in a different yet vibrant way.

Generally, dance is the basis of Bollywood music. It also portrays various emotions required in the movie according to its genre, plot, cast, and other such parameters.

Bollywood songs can be of any emotion such as romantic, sad, happy, and based on any occasion also.

The influence of the classical tradition of ragas can be seen in many Bollywood music. The first Bollywood song was recorded by Gauhar Jaan in 1902 under the label Saregama.

Different languages like Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, Hinglish, etc are used in composing Bollywood.

Bollywood music earns sizeable revenue (about 80% of India’s music revenue) in the Bollywood industry due to its influence on the masses (not only in India but also abroad). T-series is the biggest record label of Indian music with a vast market share.

Bollywood Music Project celebrates the colorful industry of music of Bollywood. It is also the biggest music festival in the world.
Bollywood music is so important that many times, even if a film fails to get recognized, the musicality of the film can save it.

Main Differences Between Indian Classical Music and Bollywood Music

  1. The purpose of Indian classical music is the enlightenment of our soul, whereas Bollywood music is composed for public entertainment and business profits.
  2. Indian classical music is originated from traditional folk songs, whereas Indian ragas have given a foundation to Bollywood music.
  3. Indian classical music is a type of classical music while, on the other hand, Bollywood music uses indie-pop music to accord justice to its danceable beats.
  4. Harmonium, Tabla, Veena, Sitar, Tanpura, Violin are such kinds of instruments used in Indian classical music, while Bollywood music incorporates tools such as Keyboard, Piano, Guitar, Synthesizer, Saxophone.
  5. Indian classical music is generally performed in classical events for spiritual purposes and the pursuit of solidarity, whereas Bollywood music is an integral part of Bollywood movies.
Difference Between Indian Classical Music and Bollywood Music


Indian classical music shows the real identity of Indian culture, whereas Bollywood music shows the improvised and growing influence of the cultural diversity of India with day-to-day experimentations.

Earlier, the music was only available to be heard through cassette tapes and radio but nowadays, its arousal can be seen on various music listening and streaming platforms, allowing us to listen to our euphonious roots.

In this way, both Indian classical music and Bollywood music have played their role in being a cultural influence.

Both the music system has helped and have been helping people to experience different kinds of emotions just through the music.

Either way, both of the musical systems have an impact on the life of music lovers and also upon those who are not into music in a deeper way.


  1. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02115/full
  2. https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=LvTQCwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=bollywood+music&ots=yMUPkyS3TY&sig=c7XZ_XvErXf7uYM5werom9Zl4ss&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=bollywood%20music&f=false 
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