Tansen, a music icon of medieval India, was the royal musician of Mughal emperor Akbar's court. He was one of the most prominent figures in the Navaratnas (Nine Gems) of emperor Akbar. Tansen was born in a Hindu family in 1506 AD in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. His father Mukund Mishra was a poet himself. Ramtanu was the actual and childhood name of Tansen. He had profound interest and inclination towards music from his early childhood. He could mimic birds and animal sounds perfectly. Swami Haridas, a great musician of his time, recognized immense musical talent in Tansen and accepted him as his disciple.
Swami Haridas honed musical skills of Tansen for ten years and shaped him as a great musician. He soon joined the court of King Ram Chand of Rewa state as a singer and musician. Soon he became famous for his matchless musical skills and his fame as an incredible singer and musician spread all over. Emperor Akbar heard about his music and invited him to his court. He was so impressed with the music of Tansen that the emperor made him his royal musician. In a very short period of time Tansen became the chief singer and musician of the Mughal Court. He started to be counted among the Navaratnas of Akbar's Court. It is believed that Tansen successfully sang 'Raga Deepak' (meant for lighting lamps) and Raga Megh Malhar (meant for bringing rains) before emperor Akbar.
Tansen always enjoyed a huge position in Akbar's court just because of his divine singing and musical skills. He remained in the Mughal court for a long period. Tansen was a born Hindu but in his later life he embraced Islam under the influence of Sufi Muhammad Ghaus. Tansen passed away in 1586 AD. His tomb is in Gwalior near the tomb of sufi Muhammad Ghaus who was his spiritual guru. Tansen is deservedly credited with creating and developing Hindustani classical music. Emperor Akbar conferred him the title of 'Miyan' for his musical excellence. Akbar also gave him the title
of 'Kanthabharan Vanivilas'. It is believed that the Dhrupad style of singing was started and developed by Swami Haridas and his great disciple Tansen.
Tansen was the composer of many ragas such as 'Miyan Ki Todi', 'Miyan Ki Malhar', 'Miyan Ki Sarang' and 'Bhairav' etc. Tansen is considered as the founder of 'Hindustani classical music'. Tansen wrote two documents on music-'Sangeeta Sara' and 'Rajmala'.