India is incredibly rich in culture and heritage. From time immemorial, diverse dynasties have been ruling this majestic land and they had their own unique customs and traditions. Folk dance and music have been integral part of this.
Carnatic music of South India is believed to be one of the oldest classical musics in the world. It features very sophisticated theoretical system and has a significant history. Carnatic sangeet is globally famous and several artists have gained worldwide recognition for playing this music.
History of Carnatic Music
The history of Carnatic sangeet dates back to 15th century AD. Purandardas (1480-1564) is considered to be the father of Carnatic music. He has contributed several thousand songs to this classical music.
Another renowned person attached with Carnatic music was Venkat Mukhi Swami. He was the grand theorist of Carnatic sangeet. During 17th century he developed the Melakarta system, which classifies south Indian ragas.
The present form of Carnatic sangeet was developed in 18th century. During this period “Trinity” of Carnatic music, Shamashastri, Thyagaraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar composed their popular compositions. Apart from that, several other composers like Gopala Krishna Bharati, Papanasam Shivan, Mysore Vasudevacher, Swati Tirunal, Uttukadu Venkatasubbair, Narayan Tirtha, Annamacharya and Arunagiri Nathar also made their significant contributions to enrich this tradition.
Instruments in Carnatic Music
Carnatic sangeet is played by using instruments like Veenam Violin, Gottuvadyam and Mridangam. Performers and composers have gained world class reputation by producing a soothing music from these amazing instruments.
Theory Of Carnatic Music
Highly developed theoretical system is imbibed in Carnatic music. Thalam (Tala) and Ragam (Raga) are the main systems upon which this classical music is based. The Tala is the rhythmic foundation of the Carnatic sangeet. Raga is the scale, comprised of seven notes including Sa Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni. The scale has its own melodic restrictions and compulsions which are to be followed by the composers. Raga is further classified into numerous modes, referred as Mela and are 72 in number.
Melodies of Carnatic Music
Carnatic music is characterized with number of sub sections. In the beginning of a recital, “Varanam” is usually played. The literal meaning of Varanam is description. It consists of two main parts – the Purvanga (first half) and Uttaranga (second half). The “Kritis” are fixed forms of composition in Raga. Ragam is a free melodic improvisation and is played without mridangam. Performer has ample of scope to show creativity in “Alapana”, which unfolds the Ragan to listeners. “Tanam” is another style of melodic improvisation in free rhythm.
Carnatic Sangeet is played in the south Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. These states have preserved the rich Dravidian culture and Carnatic music is an important element of this vibrant culture.