Uttar Pradesh had been the land of the great sages and hermits and the singing of ancient hymns and mantras laid the basic tradition of music, which has blossomed into a musical tradition. The medieval age saw the emergence of two distinct strands of music. One was the court music that found patronage in the Courts like Agra, Fatehpur-Sikri, Lucknow, Jaunpur, Varanasi, Ayodhya, Banda and Datiya. The second was the religious tradition emerging from the Bhakti Cult rooted and flowered in centres like Mathura, Vrindavan and Ayodhya. Rulers and musicians from Uttar Pradesh contributed to the prosperity of Hindustani music.
Artistes of the stature of the shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan, Kathak wizard Birju Maharaj, tabla maestro Kishan Maharaj, the legendary Baba Allaudin Khan and his disciples Pt. Ravi Shankar and Ustad Vilayat Khan; ghazal singers Begum Akhtar, Rasoolan Bai, Girija Devi and many more have lived and practised their art here.
Uttar Pradesh is the place where Kathak, one of the six foremost classical dances of India, flourished. The word Katha, from which the name is derived, means story. It originated in northern India, during the 7th century A.D. Kathak has very intricate and complex movements of hands and feet along with facial expressions.
The footwork is accompanied by the music of various percussion instruments such as tabla and pakhwaj, which are native to north India.
Other dance forms of Uttar Pradesh are largely folk traditions expressed in theatrical forms, such as:-
Ramlila is one such art form dealing with the life of Lord Rama and includes dance and theatre performance.
Braj Raslila is associated with the life of the lover-God, Lord Krishna.
Charkula is another folk dance of the state. The dance of Charkula involves a female dancer balancing a column of lighted deepaks over her head while dancing.
Rasiya describes the love of Radha and Shri Krishna. Charkula and Rasiya are native arts of the Braj region of the state.