Arts _ Culture Compilations Part 1 (Chapter 1 CARNATIC MUSIC)


  • The Tamil classic of the 2nd Century AD titled the Silappadhikaram contains a vivid description of the music of that period.
  • The Tolkappiyam, Kalladam & the contributions of the Shaivite and the Vaishnavite saints of the 7th & the 8th Centuries A.D. were also serve as resource material for studying musical history.
  • It is said that South Indian Music, as known today, flourished in Deogiri the capital city of the Yadavas in the middle ages, and after the invasion & the plunder of the city by the Muslims, the entire cultural life of the city took shelter in the Carnatic Empire of Vijaynagar under the reign of Krishnadevaraya.
  • Thereafter, the music of South India came to be known as Carnatic Music.
  • In the field of practical music, South India had a succession of briliant & prolific composers who enriched the art with thousands of compositions.
  • After Purandharasa, Tallapakam, Annamacharya, Naryana Tirtha, Bhadrachalam Ramdasa, Kshetranja made contributions to the wealth of the contributions.
  • The birth of the musical trinity- Thyagraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar & Shyama Sgasyri- at Tiruvai between the years 1750-1850 A.D. ushered in an era of dynamic development in Carnatic Music.
  • Outstanding feature of Carnatic Music is its raga system & highly developed and intricate tala system. 
  • Though clear cut demarcations in the style of musical presentation, similar to gharanas of Hindustani Music are not seen in Carnatic Music, yet we do come across styles in rendering compositions.
  • The ancient musical forms like Prabandhas etc. gradually gave way to the different musical forms that are in use in present day music, though the basic elements of the ancient Prabandhas are still retained in the modern forms.

Important Terminologies: 

  • Gitam- simplest type of composition. Taught to beginers of music, the gitam is very simple in construction, with an easy & melodious flow of music.
  • Suladi- Very much like the gitam in musical structure & arrangement, the Suladis are of a higher standard than the gitam.
  • Varnam- The varnam is a beautiful creation of musical craftmanship of a higher order, combining in itself all the characteristic features of the raga in which it is composed. Practice in varnam singing helps a musician attaining mastery in presentation & command on raga, tala & bhava.
  • Svarjati- This is learnt after a course in gitams. More complicated than the gitams, the Svarjati paves the way for the learning of Varnams. The theme is either devotional, heroic or amorous. 
  • Jatiswaram/Jatisvaram- very similar to Svarjati in musical structure, this form- Jatisvaram has no sahitya or words. The piece is sung with soft syllables only. 
  • Kirtanam- The Kirtanam had its birth about the latter half of 14th Century A.D. It is valued for the devotional songs of the Sahitya. Clothed in simple music, the kirtanams abounds in Bhakti bhava. It is suited for congregational singing as well as individual presentation.
  • Kirti- It is a development from the Kirtana. It is a highly evolved musical form. The highest limit of aesthetic excellence is reached in the Kirti composition. The raga bhava is brought out in all the rich & varied colours in this form.
  • Pada- Scholarly compositions in Telugu & Tamil. Though they are composed mainly as dance forms, they are also sung in concerts, on account of their musical excellence & aesthetic appeal. The music is slow- moving & dignified.
  • Javali- composition belonging to sphere of the height of classical music. Sung both in concert programmes & dance concerts, the Javalis are popular because of the attractive modules in which they are composed; in contrast to the padas which portray divine love, javalis are songs which are sensuous in concept & spirit.
  • Tillana- The Tillana, corresponding to the Tarana of Hindustani Music, is a short & crisp form, but on account of its brisk & attractive music, it sometimes finds in music concerts as a conclusion piece.
  • Pallavi- This is the most imaginative branch of creative music. It is in this branch of manodharma sangeeta, that the musician has ample opportunities of displaying his/her creative talents, imaginative skills & musical intelligence.
  • Tanam- branch of raga alpana. It is raga alpana in Madhyamkala or medium speed. There is perceptible rhythm in this. The rhythmical flow of music, flowing in fascinating patterns, makes thanam singing the most fascinating part of raga exposition.

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