More rarely, the musicians (either vocalists or instrumentalists) may be from different traditions (i.e. Carnatic and Hindustani). What defines jugalbandi is that the two soloists be on an equal footing.


While any Indian music performance may feature two musicians, a performance can only be deemed a jugalbandi if neither is clearly the soloist and neither clearly an accompanist. In jugalbandi, both musicians act as lead players, and a playful competition often ensues between the two performers. The origins of Indian classical music can be found from the oldest of scriptures, part of the Hindu tradition, the Vedas. The Samaveda, one of the four Vedas, describes music at length. The Samaveda was created out of Rigveda so that its hymns could be sung as Samagana; this style evolved into jatis and eventually into ragas. Indian classical music has its origins as a meditation tool for attaining self realization. All different forms of these melodies (ragas) are believed to affect various "chakras" (energy centers, or "moods") in the path of the Kundalini.

However, there is little mention of these esoteric beliefs in Bharat's Natyashastra, the first treatise laying down the fundamental principles of drama, dance and music. Indian classical music has one of the most complex and complete musical systems ever developed. Like Western classical music, it divides the octave into 12 semitones of which the 7 basic notes are Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa, in order, replacing Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do. However, it uses the just intonation tuning (unlike most modern Western classical music, which uses the equal-temperament tuning system). Indian classical music is monophonic in nature and based around a single melody line, which is played over a fixed drone.The performance is based melodically on particular ragas and rhythmically on talas. Indian music is traditionally practice oriented and does not employ notations as the primary media of instruction/understanding/transmission. The rules of Indian music and compositions themselves are taught from a guru to a shishya, in person. Various Indian music schools followed notations and classifications (see Melakarta and thaat); however, the notation is regarded as a matter of taste and is not standardized.