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Carnatic music, Karnāṭaka saṃgīta or Karnāṭaka saṅgītam is
a system of music commonly associated with southern India, including
the modern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka,
Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, as well as Sri Lanka. It is one of two
main subgenres of
Indian classical music
Indian classical music that evolved from ancient
Hindu traditions, the other subgenre being Hindustani music, which
emerged as a distinct form because of Persian or Islamic influences
from Northern India. The main emphasis in
Carnatic music is on vocal
music; most compositions are written to be sung, and even when played
on instruments, they are meant to be performed in gāyaki (singing)
Although there are stylistic differences, the basic elements of śruti
(the relative musical pitch), swara (the musical sound of a single
note), rāga (the mode or melodic formulæ), and tala (the rhythmic
cycles) form the foundation of improvisation and composition in both
Carnatic and Hindustani music. Although improvisation plays an
Carnatic music is mainly sung through compositions,
especially the kriti (or kirtanam) – a form developed between the
14th and 20th centuries by composers such as
Purandara Dasa and the
Trinity of Carnatic music.
Carnatic music is also usually taught and
learned through compositions.
Carnatic music is usually performed by a small ensemble of musicians,
consisting of a principal performer (usually a vocalist), a melodic
accompaniment (usually a violin), a rhythm accompaniment (usually a
mridangam), and a tambura, which acts as a drone throughout the
performance. Other typical instruments used in performances may
include the ghatam, kanjira, morsing, venu flute, veena, and
chitraveena. The greatest concentration of Carnatic musicians is to be
found in the city of Chennai. Various
Carnatic music festivals are
held throughout India and abroad, including the
Madras Music Season,
which has been considered to be one of the world's largest cultural
1 Origins, sources and history
2 Nature of Carnatic music
3 Important elements of Carnatic music
3.4 Tala system
Ragam Tanam Pallavi
4.6 Tani Avartanam
6 Prominent composers
7 Learning Carnatic music
8 Performances of Carnatic music
8.2 Contemporary concert content
9 See also
13 External links
Origins, sources and history
Hindu goddess of all knowledge, music, arts and
science, with her instrument, the veena.
Like all art forms in Indian culture,
Indian classical music
Indian classical music is
believed to be a divine art form which originated from the Devas and
Hindu Gods and Goddesses), and is venerated as symbolic
of nāda brāhman. Ancient treatises also describe the connection
of the origin of the swaras, or notes, to the sounds of animals and
birds and man's effort to simulate these sounds through a keen sense
of observation and perception. The Sama Veda, which is believed to
have laid the foundation for Indian classical music, consists of hymns
from the Rigveda, set to musical tunes which would be sung using three
to seven musical notes during Vedic yajnas. The Yajur-Veda, which
mainly consists of sacrificial formulae, mentions the veena as an
accompaniment to vocal recitations. References to Indian classical
music are made in many ancient texts, including epics like the
Ramayana and Mahabharata. The
vīṇāvādana tattvajñaḥ śrutijātiviśāradaḥ
tālajñaścāprayāsena mokṣamārgaṃ niyacchati ("The one who is
well versed in veena, one who has the knowledge of srutis and one who
is adept in tala, attains salvation without doubt"). Carnatic
music is based as it is today on musical concepts (including swara,
raga, and tala) that were described in detail in several ancient
works, particularly the Bharata's
Natya Shastra and
Owing to Persian and Islamic influences in
North India from the 12th
Indian classical music
Indian classical music began to diverge into two
distinct styles —
Hindustani music and Carnatic music.
Commentaries and other works, such as Sharngadeva's
further elaborated on the musical concepts found in Indian classical
music. By the 16th and 17th centuries, there was a clear
demarcation between Carnatic and Hindustani music; Carnatic music
remained relatively unaffected by Persian and Arabic influences. It
was at this time that
Carnatic music flourished in Vijayanagara, while
Vijayanagar Empire reached its greatest extent. Purandara
Dasa, who is known as the “father (Pitamaha) of Carnatic music”,
formulated the system that is commonly used for the teaching of
Venkatamakhin invented and authored the formula
for the melakarta system of raga classification in his
the Chaturdandi Prakasika (1660 AD). Govindacharya is known for
expanding the melakarta system into the sampoorna raga scheme – the
system that is in common use today.
Carnatic music was mainly patronized by the local kings of the Kingdom
of Mysore, Kingdom of Travancore, and the Maratha rulers of
Tanjore in the 18th through 20th centuries. Some of the royalty of
the kingdoms of Mysore and Travancore were themselves noted composers
and proficient in playing musical instruments, such as the veena,
rudra veena, violin, ghatam, flute, mridangam, nagaswara and
swarabhat. Some famous court-musicians proficient in music were
Veene Sheshanna (1852–1926) and Veene Subbanna
(1861–1939), among others.
With the dissolution of the erstwhile princely states and the Indian
independence movement reaching its conclusion in 1947, Carnatic music
went through a radical shift in patronage into an art of the masses
with ticketed performances organized by private institutions called
sabhās. During the 19th century, the city of
Chennai (then known as
Madras) emerged as the locus for Carnatic music.
Nature of Carnatic music
The main emphasis in
Carnatic music is on vocal music; most
compositions are written to be sung, and even when played on
instruments, they are meant to be performed in a singing style (known
as gāyaki). Like Hindustani music,
Carnatic music rests on two
main elements: rāga, the modes or melodic formulæ, and tāḷa, the
Carnatic music is presented by musicians in concerts or
recordings, either vocally or through instruments. Carnatic music
itself developed around musical works or compositions of phenomenal
composers (see below).
Important elements of Carnatic music
Śruti commonly refers to musical pitch. It is the approximate
equivalent of a tonic (or less precisely a key) in Western music; it
is the note from which all the others are derived. It is also used in
the sense of graded pitches in an octave. While there are an infinite
number of sounds falling within a scale (or raga) in Carnatic music,
the number that can be distinguished by auditory perception is
twenty-two (although over the years, several of them have converged).
In this sense, while sruti is determined by auditory perception, it is
also an expression in the listener's mind.
Main article: Swara
Swara refers to a type of musical sound that is a single note, which
defines a relative (higher or lower) position of a note, rather than a
Swaras also refer to the solfege of Carnatic
music, which consist of seven notes, "sa-ri-ga-ma-pa-da-ni" (compare
with the Hindustani sargam: sa-re-ga-ma-pa-dha-ni or Western
do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti). These names are abbreviations of the longer
names shadja, rishabha, gandhara, madhyama, panchama, dhaivata and
nishada. Unlike other music systems, every member of the solfege
(called a swara) has three variants. The exceptions are the drone
notes, shadja and panchama (also known as the tonic and the dominant),
which have only one form; and madhyama (the subdominant), which has
two forms. A 7th century stone inscription in Kudumiyan Malai in
Tamil Nadu shows vowel changes to solfege symbols with ra, ri, ru etc.
to denote the higher quarter-tones. In one scale, or raga, there is
usually only one variant of each note present. The exceptions exist in
"light" ragas, in which, for artistic effect, there may be two, one
ascending (in the arohanam) and another descending (in the
Main article: Raga
A raga in
Carnatic music prescribes a set of rules for building a
melody – very similar to the Western concept of mode. It
specifies rules for movements up (aarohanam) and down (avarohanam),
the scale of which notes should figure more and which notes should be
used more sparingly, which notes may be sung with gamaka
(ornamentation), which phrases should be used or avoided, and so on.
In effect, it is a series of obligatory musical events which must be
observed, either absolutely or with a particular frequency.
In Carnatic music, the sampoorna ragas (those with all seven notes in
their scales) are classified into a system called the melakarta, which
groups them according to the kinds of notes that they have. There are
seventy-two melakarta ragas, thirty six of whose madhyama
(subdominant) is shuddha (perfect fourth from the tonic), the
remaining thirty-six of whose madhyama (subdominant) is prati (an
augmented fourth from the tonic). The ragas are grouped into sets of
six, called chakras ("wheels", though actually segments in the
conventional representation) grouped according to the supertonic and
mediant scale degrees. There is a system known as the katapayadi
sankhya to determine the names of melakarta ragas.
Ragas may be divided into two classes: janaka ragas (i.e. melakarta or
parent ragas) and janya ragas (descendant ragas of a particular janaka
Janya ragas are themselves subclassified into various
Main article: Tala (music)
Tala refers to a fixed time cycle or metre, set for a particular
composition, which is built from groupings of beats.
Talas have cycles of a defined number of beats and rarely change
within a song. They have specific components, which in combinations
can give rise to the variety to exist (over 108), allowing different
compositions to have different rhythms.
Carnatic music singers usually keep the beat by moving their hands up
and down in specified patterns, and using their fingers simultaneously
to keep time. Tala is formed with three basic parts (called angas)
which are laghu, dhrtam, and anudhrtam, though complex talas may have
other parts like plutam, guru, and kaakapaadam. There are seven basic
tala groups which can be formed from the laghu, dhrtam, and anudhrtam:
Matya tala
A laghu has five variants (called jaathis) based on the counting
pattern. Five jaathis times seven tala groups gives thirty-five basic
talas, although use of other angas results in a total of 108 talas.
Improvisation in raga is the soul of Indian classical music – an
essential aspect. "Manodharma Sangeetam" or "kalpana Sangeetam"
("music of imagination") as it is known in Carnatic music, embraces
several varieties of improvisation.
The main traditional forms of improvisation in
Carnatic music consist
of the following:
Main article: Alapana
An alapana, sometimes also called ragam, is the exposition of a
raga or tone – a slow improvisation with no rhythm, where the
raga acts as the basis of embellishment. In performing alapana,
performers consider each raga as an object that has beginnings and
endings and consists somehow of sequences of thought.
The performer will explore the ragam and touch on its various
nuances, singing in the lower octaves first, then gradually moving
up to higher octaves, while giving a hint of the song to be
Theoretically, this ought to be the easiest type of improvisation,
since the rules are so few, but in fact, it takes much skill to sing a
pleasing, comprehensive (in the sense of giving a "feel for the
ragam") and, most importantly, original raga alapana.
Main article: Niraval
Niraval, usually performed by the more advanced performers, consists
of singing one or two lines of text of a song repeatedly, but with a
series of melodic improvised elaborations. Although niraval
consists of extempore melodic variations, generally, the original
patterns of duration are maintained; each word in the lines of
text stay set within their original place (idam) in the tala
cycle. The lines are then also played at different levels of speed
which can include double speed, triple speed, quadruple speed and even
sextuple speed. The improvised elaborations are made with a view
of outlining the raga, the tempo, and the theme of the
Main article: Kalpanaswaram
Kalpanaswaram, also known as swarakalpana, consists of improvising
melodic and rhythmic passages using swaras (solfa syllables). Like
niraval, kalpanaswaras are sung to end on a particular swara in
the raga of the melody and at a specific place (idam) in the tala
Kalpanaswaras have a somewhat predictable rhythmical structure;
the swaras are sung to end on the samam (the first beat of the
rhythmical cycle). The swaras can also be sung at the same speed
or double the speed of the melody that is being sung, though some
artists sing triple-speed phrases too.
Kalpanaswaram is the most elementary type of improvisation, usually
taught before any other form of improvisation.
Tanam is one of the most important forms of improvisation, and is
Ragam Tanam Pallavi. Originally developed for the
veena, it consists of expanding the raga with syllables like tha, nam,
thom, aa, nom, na, etc.
Ragam Tanam Pallavi
Ragam Tanam Pallavi
Ragam, Tanam, and
Pallavi are the principal long form in concerts,
and is a composite form of improvisation. As the name suggests, it
consists of raga alapana, tanam, and a pallavi line. Set to a
slow-paced tala, the pallavi line is often composed by the performer.
Through niraval, the performer manipulates the pallavi line in complex
melodic and rhythmic ways. The niraval is followed by
Tani Avartanam refers to the extended solo that is played by the
percussionists in a concert, and is usually played after the main
composition in a concert. The percussionist displays the full
range of his skills and rhythmic imagination during the solo, which
may take from two to twenty minutes.
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In contrast to
Hindustani music of the northern part of India,
Carnatic music is taught and learned through compositions, which
encode many intricate musical details, also providing scope for free
improvisation. Nearly every rendition of a
Carnatic music composition
is different and unique as it embodies elements of the composer's
vision, as well as the musician's interpretation.
A Carnatic composition really has two elements, one being the musical
element, the other being what is conveyed in the composition. It is
probably because of this fact that most
Carnatic music compositions
are composed for singing. In addition to the rich musical experience,
each composition brings out the knowledge and personality of the
composer, and hence the words are as important as the musical element
itself. This poses a special challenge for the musicians because
rendering this music does not involve just playing or singing the
correct musical notes; the musicians are expected to understand what
was conveyed by the composer in various languages, and sing musical
phrases that act to create the effect that was intended by the
composer in his/her composition.
There are many types/forms of compositions.
Geethams and swarajatis (which have their own peculiar composition
structures) are principally meant to serve as basic learning
Compositions more commonly associated with
Indian classical dance
Indian classical dance and
Indian devotional music have also been increasingly used in the
Carnatic music repertoire. The performance of the
Tamil viruttam and Telugu padyamu or sisapadya forms are particularly
unique. Though these forms consist of lyric-based verses, musicians
improvise raga phrases in free rhythm, like an alapana, so both
the sound value, and the meaning of the text, guide the musician
through elaborate melodic improvisations. Forms such as the divya
prabandham, thevaram and ugabhoga are often performed similarly,
however, these forms can also have a set melody and rhythm like the
devaranama, javali, padam, thillana and thiruppugazh forms.
The most common and significant forms in
Carnatic music are the varnam
and the kriti (or kirtanam).
Main article: Varnam
Varnams are short metric pieces which encapsulate the main features
and requirements of a raga. The features and rules of the raga
(also known as the sanchaaraas of a raga) include how each note of the
raga should be stressed, the scale of the raga, and so on. All
varnams consist of lyrics, as well as swara passages, including a
pallavi, an anupallavi, muktayi swaras, a charanam, and
Known for their complex structure, varnams are a fundamental form in
Carnatic music. Varnams are practised as vocal exercises in
multiple speeds by performers of Carnatic music, to help develop voice
culture, and maintain proper pitch and control of rhythm. In Carnatic
music concerts, varnams are often performed by musicians as the
opening item – acting as a warm up for the musicians, and as a
means of grabbing the attention of the audience.
Main article: Kriti
Carnatic songs (kritis) are varied in structure and style, but
generally consist of three units:
Pallavi. This is the equivalent of a refrain in Western music, with 1
or 2 lines.
Anupallavi. This is the second verse, also as 2 lines.
Charana. The final (and longest) verse that wraps up the song. The
Charanam usually borrows patterns from the Anupallavi. There can be
This kind of song is called a keerthanam or a kriti. There are other
possible structures for a kriti, which may in addition include swara
passages named chittaswara. A chittaswara consists only of notes, and
has no words. Still others have a verse at the end of the charana,
called the madhyamakāla. It is sung immediately after the charana,
but at double speed.
A portrait of
Tyagaraja – one among the celebrated Carnatic trinity
List of Carnatic composers and Musicians of the Kingdom of
There are many composers in Carnatic music. Purandara Dasa
(1480–1564) is referred to as the Pitamaha (the father or
Carnatic music as he formulated the basic lessons in
teaching Carnatic music, and in honour of his significant contribution
to Carnatic music. He structured graded exercises known as Swaravalis
and Alankaras, and at the same time, introduced the Raga
Mayamalavagowla as the first scale to be learnt by beginners. He also
composed Gitas (simple songs) for novice students.
Tyagaraja (1759? – 1847), Muthuswami Dikshitar,
(1776–1827) and Syama Sastri, (1762–1827) are regarded as the
Trinity of Carnatic music
Trinity of Carnatic music because of the quality of Syama Sastri's
compositions, the varieties of compositions of Muthuswami Dikshitar,
and Tyagaraja's prolific output in composing kritis.
Prominent composers prior to the
Trinity of Carnatic music
Trinity of Carnatic music include
Arunachala Kavi, Annamacharya, Narayana Theertha, Vijaya Dasa,
Jagannatha Dasa, Gopala Dasa, Bhadrachala Ramadas, Sadasiva Brahmendra
and Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi. Other composers are Swathi Thirunal,
Gopalakrishna Bharathi, Neelakanta Sivan, Patnam Subramania Iyer,
Mysore Vasudevachar, Koteeswara Iyer, Muthiah Bhagavathar, Subramania
Bharathiyar and Papanasam Sivan. The compositions of these composers
are rendered frequently by artists of today.
Carnatic music were often inspired by religious devotion
and were usually scholars proficient in one or more of the languages
Kannada, Malayalam, Sanskrit, Tamil, or Telugu. They usually included
a signature, called a mudra, in their compositions. For example, all
Tyagaraja (who composed in Telugu) have the word
them, all songs by
Muthuswami Dikshitar (who composed in Sanskrit)
have the words Guruguha in them; songs by
Syama Sastri (who composed
in Telugu) have the words Syama
Krishna in them; all songs by
Purandaradasa (who composed in Kannada) have the words Purandara
Gopalakrishna Bharathi (who composed in Tamil) used the
signature Gopalakrishnan in his compositions. Papanasam Sivan, who has
been hailed as the Tamil
Tyagaraja of Carnatic music, composed in
Tamil and Sanskrit, and used the signature Ramadasan in his
Learning Carnatic music
Carnatic music is traditionally taught according to the system
formulated by Purandara Dasa. This involves varisais (graded
exercises), alankaras (exercises based on the seven talas), geetams or
simple songs, and Swarajatis. After the student has reached a certain
standard, varnams are taught and later, the student learns kritis. It
typically takes several years of learning before a student is adept
enough to perform at a concert.
The learning texts and exercises are more or less uniform across all
the South Indian states. The learning structure is arranged in
increasing order of complexity. The lessons start with the learning of
the sarali varisai (solfege set to a particular raga).
Carnatic music was traditionally taught in the gurukula system, where
the student lived with and learnt the art from his guru (perceptor).
From the late 20th century onwards, with changes in lifestyles and
need for young music aspirants to simultaneously pursue a parallel
academic career, this system has found few takers.
Musicians often take great pride in letting people know about their
Guru Parampara, or the hierarchy of disciples from some prominent
ancient musician or composer, to which they belong. People whose
disciple-hierarchies are often referred to are Tyagaraja, Muthuswami
Dikshitar, Syama Sastri,
Swathi Thirunal and Papanasam Sivan, among
In modern times, it is common for students to visit their gurus daily
or weekly to learn music. Though new technology has made learning
easier with the availability of quick-learn media such as learning
exercises recorded on audio cassettes and CDs, these are discouraged
by most gurus who emphasize that face-to-face learning is best for
A portrait of
Muthuswamy Dikshitar – one of the celebrated Carnatic
Notation is not a new concept in Indian music. However, Carnatic music
continued to be transmitted orally for centuries without being written
down. The disadvantage with this system was that if one wanted to
learn about a kriti composed, for example, by Purandara Dasa, it
involved the difficult task of finding a person from Purandara Dasa's
lineage of students.
Written notation of
Carnatic music was revived in the late 17th
century and early 18th century, which coincided with rule of Shahaji
II in Tanjore. Copies of Shahaji's musical manuscripts are still
available at the
Saraswati Mahal Library in
Tanjore and they give us
an idea of the music and its form. They contain snippets of solfege to
be used when performing the mentioned ragas.
Unlike classical Western music,
Carnatic music is notated almost
exclusively in tonic sol-fa notation using either a Roman or Indic
script to represent the solfa names. Past attempts to use the staff
notation have mostly failed. Indian music makes use of hundreds of
ragas, many more than the church modes in Western music. It becomes
difficult to write
Carnatic music using the staff notation without the
use of too many accidentals. Furthermore, the staff notation requires
that the song be played in a certain key. The notions of key and
absolute pitch are deeply rooted in Western music, whereas the
Carnatic notation does not specify the key and prefers to use scale
degrees (relative pitch) to denote notes. The singer is free to choose
the actual pitch of the tonic note. In the more precise forms of
Carnatic notation, there are symbols placed above the notes indicating
how the notes should be played or sung; however, informally this
practice is not followed.
To show the length of a note, several devices are used. If the
duration of note is to be doubled, the letter is either capitalized
(if using Roman script) or lengthened by a diacritic (in Indian
languages). For a duration of three, the letter is capitalized (or
diacriticized) and followed by a comma. For a length of four, the
letter is capitalized (or diacriticized) and then followed by a
semicolon. In this way any duration can be indicated using a series of
semicolons and commas.
However, a simpler notation has evolved which does not use semicolons
and capitalization, but rather indicates all extensions of notes using
a corresponding number of commas. Thus, Sā quadrupled in length would
be denoted as "S,,,".
The notation is divided into columns, depending on the structure of
the tāḷaṃ. The division between a laghu and a dhrutam is
indicated by a।, called a ḍaṇḍā, and so is the division
between two dhrutams or a dhrutam and an anudhrutam. The end of a
cycle is marked by a॥, called a double ḍaṇḍā, and looks like
Performances of Carnatic music
Main article: Performances of Carnatic music
Carnatic music is usually performed by a small ensemble of musicians,
who sit on an elevated stage. This usually consists of, at least, a
principal performer, a melodic accompaniment, a rhythm accompaniment,
and a drone.
Performances can be musical or musical-dramatic. Musical recitals are
either vocal, or purely instrumental in nature, while musical-dramatic
recitals refer to Harikatha. But, irrespective of what type of
recital it is, what is featured are compositions which form the core
of this genre of music.
See also: Indian musical instruments
The tambura is the traditional drone instrument used in concerts.
However, tamburas are increasingly being replaced by śruti boxes, and
now more commonly, the electronic tambura. The drone itself is an
integral part of performances and furnishes stability – the
equivalent of harmony in Western music.
In a vocal recital, a concert team may have one or more vocalists as
the principal performer(s). Instruments, such as the
and/or venu flute, can be occasionally found as a rhythmic
accompaniment, but usually, a vocalist is supported by a violin player
(who sits on his/her left). The rhythm accompanist is usually a
mridangam player (who sits on the other side, facing the violin
player). However, other percussion instruments such as the ghatam,
kanjira and morsing frequently also accompany the main percussion
instrument and play in an almost contrapuntal fashion along with the
The objective of the accompanying instruments is far more than
following the melody and keeping the beats. The accompaniments form an
integral part of every composition presented, and they closely follow
and augment the melodic phrases outlined by the lead singer. The
vocalist and the violinist take turns while elaborating or while
exhibiting creativity in sections like raga, niraval and
Hindustani music concerts, where an accompanying tabla player
can keep beats without following the musical phrases at times, in
Carnatic music, the accompanists have to follow the intricacies of the
composition since there are percussion elements such as eduppu in
Some concerts feature a good bit of interaction with the lead
musicians and accompanists exchanging notes, and accompanying
musicians predicting the lead musician's musical phrases.
Contemporary concert content
Carnatic music concert (called a kutcheri) usually
lasts about three hours, and comprises a number of varied
compositions. Carnatic songs are composed in a particular raga, which
means that they do not deviate from the notes in the raga. Each
composition is set with specific notes and beats, but performers
improvise extensively. Improvisation occurs in the melody of the
composition as well as in using the notes to expound the beauty of the
Concerts usually begin with a varnam or an invocatory item which will
act as the opening piece. The varnam is composed with an emphasis on
swaras of the raga, but will also have lyrics, the saahityam. It is
lively and fast to get the audience's attention. An invocatory item
may usually follow the varnam.
After the varnam and/or invocatory item, the artist sings longer
compositions called kirtanas (commonly referred to as kritis). Each
kriti sticks to one specific raga, although some are composed with
more than one raga; these are known as ragamalika (a garland of
After singing the opening kriti, usually, the performer sings the
kalpanaswaram of the raga to the beat. The performer must improvise a
string of swaras in any octave according to the rules of the raga and
return to beginning of the cycle of beats smoothly, joining the swaras
with a phrase selected from the kriti. The violin performs these
alternately with the main performer. In very long strings of swara,
the performers must calculate their notes accurately to ensure that
they stick to the raga, have no awkward pauses or lapses in the beat
of the song, and create a complex pattern of notes that a
knowledgeable audience can follow.
Performers then begin the main compositions with a section called raga
alapana exploring the raga. In this, they use the sounds aa, ri, na,
ta, etc. instead of swaras to slowly elaborate the notes and flow of
the raga. This begins slowly and builds to a crescendo, and finally
establishes a complicated exposition of the raga that shows the
performer's skill. All of this is done without any rhythmic
accompaniment, or beat. Then the melodic accompaniment (violin or
veena), expounds the raga. Experienced listeners can identify many
ragas after they hear just a few notes. With the raga thus
established, the song begins, usually with lyrics. In this, the
accompaniment (usually violin, sometimes veena) performs along with
the main performer and the percussion (such as a mridangam). In the
next stage of the song, they may sing niraval or kalpanaswaram again.
In most concerts, the main item will at least have a section at the
end of the item, for the percussion to perform solo (called the tani
avartanam). The percussion artists perform complex patterns of rhythm
and display their skill. If multiple percussion instruments are
employed, they engage in a rhythmic dialogue until the main performer
picks up the melody once again. Some experienced artists may follow
the main piece with a ragam thanam pallavi mid-concert, if they do not
use it as the main item.
Following the main composition, the concert continues with shorter and
lighter songs. Some of the types of songs performed towards the end of
the concerts are tillanas and thukkadas – bits of popular kritis or
compositions requested by the audience. Every concert that is the last
of the day ends with a mangalam, a thankful prayer and conclusion to
the musical event.
The audience of a typical concert will have some understanding of
Carnatic music. It is also typical to see the audience tapping out the
tala in sync with the artist's performance. As and when the artist
exhibits creativity, the audience acknowledge it by clapping their
hands. With experienced artists, towards the middle of the concert,
requests start flowing in. The artist usually sings the requests, and
it helps in exhibiting the artist's broad knowledge of the several
thousand kritis that are in existence.
List of Carnatic music festivals
List of Carnatic music festivals and
Various music festivals featuring
Carnatic music performances are held
in India, and throughout the world.
With the city of
Chennai (then known as Madras) emerging as the locus
Carnatic music during the 19th century, its musicians founded
Tyagaraja Aradhana festival in 1846. The Aradhana festival is an
annual death-anniversary celebration of the prolific Carnatic music
composer, Tyagaraja. Held in the city of Thiruvayaru, thousands of
musicians attend the festival to perform his compositions. Since its
inception, other festivals were started in a similar manner throughout
India and abroad, such as the
Chembai Sangeetholsavam in the Indian
city of Guruvayur, and the Aradhana in the US city of Cleveland.
The city of
Chennai also holds a six-week-long grand "Music Season",
which has been described as the world's largest cultural event.
The Music Season was started in 1927, to mark the opening of the
Madras Music Academy. It used to be a traditional month-long Carnatic
music festival, but since then it has also diversified into dance and
drama, as well as non-Carnatic art forms. Some concert organisers also
feature their own
Carnatic music festivals during the season.
Thousands of performances are held by hundreds of musicians across
various venues in the city.
Main article: List of prominent Carnatic artists
Carnatic music artists often have to have had several years of intense
training and practice before being qualified as musicians who can
perform on stage.
Indian classical music
Indian classical music portal
List of Carnatic composers
List of Carnatic instrumentalists
List of Carnatic musicians
Trinity of Carnatic music
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External link in article= (help)
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