Carnatic Music, referred to as "Classical Music"
India , is a very old tradition. Traditional Carnatic music
consisting of hundreds of ragas is a rich treat to all music lovers. Most
of these songs are Hindu devotional in nature, with melody as the basic
structure and are enjoyed by almost anybody with taste.
History Of Carnatic Music
The Carnatic Music grammar is based on Melakartha Raga System prior to which Tamil music grammar revailed. Melakartha was introduced by Venkatamaki in AD 1620 during the rule of Nayaks in Thanjavur. Purantharadasar (AD 1484 - 1564) of Karnataka State is known as the "Father of Carnatic Music". He introduced the basic music learning process based on Mayamalavagoulai Ragam.
Spiritualism has been the key content of Carnatic music. The beautiful interweaving of the devotional element and aesthetics has made it ethereal and eternal. The basic idea behind compositions has been to see and seek God. In fact, it has been said that the easiest way to attain salvation is to sing the greatness of the Almighty.
Eminent Composers Of Carnatic Music
Many eminent composers have enriched traditional Carnatic music. One of its greatest composers was Thyagaraja, who is regarded by many as a saint. Besides him, Muthuswami Deekshithar and Shyama Shastri are the other two composers who constitute the three pillars of Carnatic music. All the three belonged to Tamil Nadu and they enriched Carnatic music with compositions in their individual styles and it is their compositions that yet constitute the core of the concert repertoire. Following in the footsteps of these three, a multitude of composers appeared on the scene including Subbaraya Shastri, Annaswami Shastri, Ananta Bharati, Patnam Subrahmania Iyer, Vaiyacheri Ramaswami Iyer, Subbarama Dikshitar and Ramanathapuram 'Poochi' Srinivasa Iyengar. Among latter-day composers, the contributions of Mayuram Vishwanatha Shastri and Papanasam Sivan also deserve mention here.
In Carnatic music, all the South Indian languages have been used prolifically, in addition to the ancient classical Indian language, Sanskrit. The Telugu language has been especially widely used in the compositions. There is also a wide repertoire in Tamil and Kannada, and a smaller range in Malayalam. Occasionally, songs in more northern languages like Marathi, Hindi and Braj Bhasha (language) have been incorporated into Carnatic music. This adds to the rich variety of a Carnatic music performance.
The dress code adopted by the Carnatic music performers is typically the traditional South Indian type. The male singers usually wear a Dhoti and Kurta. Generally, the attire is made of cotton or silk, but sometimes, the format has been maintained with slight innovations. The female singers are generally, dressed in saris, with typical South Indian jewellery to go with the dress. The women singers also typically wear flowers in their hair. This dress code has been maintained over several years.
Place Of Performance
In olden days, Carnatic music was performed in temples. That culture has been carried on to this day. Apart from this, performances are held in Sabhas, which are organisations that preserve this traditional art through a professional set up.
It is customary for most of the South Indian temples and other organisations to have Carnatic music concerts during the major Hindu festivals. Apart from this, it is a regular practice to have the traditional wind instrument of South India , Nagaswaram in temples (for daily temple processions, apart from festival time special prayers). Carnatic music concerts are also performed in marriages and other grand Hindu rituals.
Today, Carnatic music also has a global presence. Many musicians are performing internationally and there is a rapid cultural growth in various foreign countries, including USA, Canada, France, Germany, U.K., South Africa, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and China (mainly Hong Kong).
South Indians abroad have taken the initiative to popularise this traditional art form. During the last two decades, music has been taught, practised and performed in these countries by Indians settled there. This has also induced several foreigners to learn and perform this traditional art form, in addition to writing about it.