Tansen (c. 1500 – 1586), also known to as Tan Sen or Ramtanu, was a well known person of North Indian (Hindustani) classical music. He was born in a Hindu family. He learned and perfected and mastered his art in the northwest region of modern Madhya Pradesh. He began his career and spent most of his adult life in the court and patronage of the Hindu king of Rewa (princely state), Raja Ramchandra Singh (r.1555–1592). He became famous for his musical abilities and studies. Mughal Emperor Akbar sent messengers to Raja Ramchandra Singh , requesting Tansen to join the musicians at the Mughal court. In 1562, about the age of 60, the Vaishnava musician Tansen joined the Akbar court.
Tansen (Tan Sen, Ramtanu)
Tansen of Gwalior,
a Mughal painting (1585-90)
Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh
|Genres||Hindustani Classical Music|
|Occupation(s)||musician, instrumentalist, vocalist, music studies|
|Years active||Till 1562: Raja Ramchandra Singh, Rewa (princely state)|
After 1562: Emperor Akbar
Tansen was a composer, musician and vocalist. He has been attributed for large number of compositions in northern regions of the Indian subcontinent. He was also an instrumentalist who made musical instruments better and popular. Akbar considered him as a Navaratnas (nine jewels). He gave him the title Mian in his honor, meaning learned man.
There are many legends about Tansen in Akbar court historian accounts and gharana literature. One of them says that he could bring down the rains with Raga Megh Malhar. It is also said that he could light lamps by performing Raga Deepak. Other legends talk about his ability to communicate with animals through his music. Once, a white elephant was captured, but it was wild and could not be controlled. Finally, Tansen sang to the elephant who calmed down and the emperor was able to ride him.
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- Davar, Ashok (1987). Tansen – The Magical Musician. India: National book trust.
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- "Tansen". culturalindia.net.