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Carnatic Music Summary

May 17, 2014 | Music classes

Carnatic Music

There are two main genres of classical music traditions that developed in India over many centuries; Hindustani music, which is prevalent in the northern parts of the country, and Carnatic music, which is more common in the south. Although there are some distinguishable differences, both traditions have much in common such as r_gas (melodic scales) and t_las (rhythmic cycles).

Carnatic music is considered to be one of the oldest classical traditions in the world. It possesses an intricate melodic structure of ragas and a highly complex rhythmic system of talas. The three most influential composers – Saint Thyagarajah, Shyamashastri and Muthuswami Dikshitar – also known as the trinity, contributed immensely to this art form and their compositions remain popular to this date.

Carnatic music allows for elaborate improvisations in various modes. Raga alapana, the main form, is a pure melodic improvisation. Tanam is a melodic improvisation with a rhythmic pulsation. Neraval means improvised melodic variations of a certain passage in a song whilst maintaining the verse. Kalpana Swara is improvisation using notes.

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