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Carnatic Music: Introduction And Journey

     A life without music is as deafening as silence. Music can be a simple melody, such as chirping of birds, to a completely composed song. It varies in enormous genres, from pop to folk, religious to hip hop, country to rock, etc. It provides a soul to one’s life, vibrancy to colors, a meaning to lessons and so much more.

Music of India

India, an exceptional country, has its own genre of music known as ‘Music of India’, which is an amalgam of Indian classical music, Folk music, Indian pop and film music. Indian classical music is millions of years old and comprises of Hindustani and Carnatic Music. This music had their existence much before India got its significance, even before it was named ‘Bharat’. Where Hindustani music spread its grandeur dominantly in northern, eastern and central regions of the country; Carnatic music glorified the peninsular or southern regions with its magnificence.

Carnatic Music

This music consists of tala, Shruti, raga, alankar andswaras; with talas and ragas being two main components in Carnatic music. TheSampoornaragas in Carnatic music has saptaswaras (seven notes) which are classified in the Melakarta ragas, a system that divided the former into two sets of thirty-six ragams, the Shuddha and the Prati, which is further grouped in six sets, the Chakras.

All the 150talams in Carnatic music are derivates of seven cores namely, Dhruva, Matya, Rupaka, Jhampa, Triputa, Ata, and EkaTalams. The main focus is on vocals in this form of music. Wikipedia tells that there are 7.2 million ragas in this music. As the music aged, so did it got developed by several musical prodigies over the ages. Alapana, Niraval, Pallavi, Ragam, Swarakalpana, Tanam andTaniAvartanam are main improvisations in Carnatic music.

The Teacher and the Composers

PurandaraDasa, the godfather and first teacher of Carnatic music, instituted Raga Mayamalavagowla, the first lesson for beginners. Some of the prominent composers of Carnatic music are Arunachala Kavi, Annamacharya, NarayanaTheertha, Vijaya Dasa, Jagannatha Dasa, Gopala Dasa, BhadrachalaRamadas, SadasivaBrahmendraOottukkaduVenkataKavi. Tyagaraja, MuthuswamiDikshitar and Shyama Sastri are regarded as the ‘trinity of Carnatic Music’, who made voluminous contributions to this music by their prolific works.

The Journey

The journey of Carnatic Music can be illustrated by three periods of time,

The Ancient (Vedic period - 4th century AD): It was this period when the Indian classical music was taking slow birth over the course of years from the Vedas. Bharata'sNatyasastra gave Swara, Tala and Pada, the fundamentals of music in this period.

The Medieval (5th – 16th century AD): This was the period of progressive growth in Carnatic music. Matanga in 6thcentury AD fashioned the Brihaddesi, where the term ‘raga’ was born.The Kudimiyanmalai inscriptions, inscribed in the 7th AD, have South Indian musical notations. The 12thcentury AD saw the Gita Govinda of Jayadeva written in Sanskrit, which consists of 24 songs, each set to a particular Raga.TheTiruppugazh of Arunagirinathar glorified 15thcentury AD by his unique and complex verses.

The Modern (17th century AD – present day): The 17th century AD was the golden era that bathed in the magnificence and admiration of Carnatic music. Venkatamakhi created the Melakarta in 1660 AD, 18th century AD saw the splendors of the ‘trinity of Carnatic music’ and the 19th century AD became a witness of the works of SubbaramaDikshitar and ManikkaMudaliar, SangeetaSampradayaPradarsini in Telugu andSangeetaChandrikai in Tamil, respectively.

Carnatic music got polished century after century by the efforts of exuberant musicians, who not only made their admirable contributions in the discovery of this music but also in teaching it.

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Posted on 2017-10-09, By: *

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