* Carnatic music
RITES OF PASSAGE
* Ashrama :
* Ratha Yatra
Gurus, saints, philosophers ANCIENT
* Kumarila Bhatta
* Śyāma Śastri
* Vachaspati Mishra
U. G. Krishnamurti
* Sai Baba
Ramachandra Dattatrya Ranade
* HINDUISM BY COUNTRY
* PILGRIMAGE SITES
Hinduism and Jainism / and Buddhism / and Sikhism / and Judaism /
and Christianity / and Islam
* Glossary of
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 ,
Kerala , and
Tamil Nadu , as well as
Sri Lanka . It is
one of two main subgenres of
Indian classical music that evolved from
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
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 most outstanding performances, and the greatest
concentration of Carnatic musicians, are to be found in the city of
Chennai . Various festivals are held throughout India and abroad
which mainly consist of
Carnatic music performances, such as the
Madras Music Season
Madras Music Season , which has been considered to be one of the
world's largest cultural events.
* 1 Origins, sources and history
* 2 Nature of
* 3 Important elements of
* 3.4 Tala system
* 4 Improvisation
* 4.4 Tanam
* 4.6 Tani Avartanam
* 5 Compositions
* 6 Prominent composers
* 7 Learning
* 7.1 Notations
* 7.1.2 Rhythm
Performances of Carnatic music
* 8.1 Instrumentation
* 8.2 Contemporary concert content
* 8.3 Audience
* 8.4 Festivals
* 8.5 Artists
* 9 Therapeutic Effect
* 10 See also
* 11 Notes
* 12 References
* 13 Bibliography
* 14 External links
ORIGINS, SOURCES AND HISTORY
Saraswati , the
Hindu goddess of all knowledge, music, arts and
science, with her instrument, the veena.
Like all art forms in
Indian culture ,
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
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
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
Ilango Adigal .
Owing to Persian and Islamic influences in
North India from the 12th
Indian classical music began to diverge into two
Hindustani music and Carnatic music. Commentaries
and other works, such as
Sangita Ratnakara , 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 the 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 Carnatic music. Venkatamakhin
invented and authored the formula for the melakarta system of raga
classification in his
Sanskrit work, 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 and
Kingdom of Travancore 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.
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 avarohanam
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
Janya ragas are themselves subclassified into various
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
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:
* Ata tala
* Dhruva tala
* Eka tala
* Jhampa tala
* Matya tala
* Rupaka tala
* Triputa 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:
* Tani Avartanam
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 performed.
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.
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 composition.
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 cycle.
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, 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 kalpanaswarams.
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
Sanskrit sloka ,
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).
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 chittaswaras .
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.
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.
Charanam usually borrows patterns from the Anupallavi. There can
be multiple charanas.
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 See also:
List of Carnatic composers and Musicians of the
Kingdom of Mysore
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 ,
Syama Sastri , (1762–1827) are regarded as the
Trinity of Carnatic music because of the quality of
Syama Sastri 's
compositions, the varieties of compositions of
Muthuswami Dikshitar ,
Tyagaraja 's prolific output in composing kritis .
Prominent composers prior to the
Trinity of Carnatic music include
Arunachala Kavi ,
Annamacharya , Narayana Theertha ,
Vijaya Dasa ,
Jagannatha Dasa ,
Gopala Dasa ,
Bhadrachala Ramadas , Sadasiva
Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi . Other composers are Swathi
Gopalakrishna Bharathi ,
Neelakanta Sivan , Patnam
Subramania Iyer ,
Mysore Vasudevachar ,
Koteeswara Iyer , Muthiah
Subramania Bharathiyar and
Papanasam Sivan . The
compositions of these composers are rendered frequently by artists of
Carnatic music were often inspired by religious devotion
and were usually scholars proficient in one or more of the languages
Sanskrit , Tamil , or Telugu . They usually
included a signature, called a mudra , in their compositions. For
example, all songs by
Tyagaraja (who composed in Telugu) have the word
Tyagaraja in 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
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
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
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
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
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
a caesura .
PERFORMANCES OF CARNATIC MUSIC
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.
Indian musical instruments
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 kriti s). 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 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
Carnatic music during the 19th century, its musicians
Tyagaraja Aradhana festival in 1846. The Aradhana festival
is an annual death-anniversary celebration of the prolific Carnatic
Tyagaraja . Held in the city of
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
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.
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.
Research shows that children receiving Carnatic classical musical
training were in advantage for phonological awareness (PA) and verbal
working memory (VWM) along with enhanced pitch perception abilities.
It was also found that the children who had undergone longer duration
of training showed better performance in these areas. Post-operative
patients can ease their pain and reduce their dependence on
pain-killers by listening to one of the famous Ragas of Carnatic
music, Anandha Bhairavi.
Indian classical music portal
List of Carnatic composers
List of Carnatic instrumentalists
List of Carnatic instrumentalists
List of Carnatic musicians
Trinity of Carnatic music
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