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world of music

Music, like its infinite forms, has innumerable definitions. Some may say music gives soul to the universe, and for some it is entertainment. Technically, it can be defined as a harmonious arrangement of sounds that is pleasing to the ears. For me, music is a universal language. Whether we understand what is being said with words or not, the melody is always able to express what the song is about. Music has been a common phenomenon in every culture on this planet and has always been a stepping stone for a spiritual process. Read on to know fascinating details about the different forms of Classical music. Click here to directly learn specifically about Carnatic music and comparisons between Hindustani and Carnatic music.

What is Classical music?

Classical music is a very general term which normally refers to music that follows a set of rules. It is music that has been composed by musicians who are trained in the art of writing music (composing) and written down in music notation so that other musicians can play it. Many countries and regions have different forms of Classical Music.

What is Indian music?

Indian music is one of the oldest musical traditions in the world and is considered to be the art music of the Indian sub-continent. The Indus Valley civilization (3300 BC-1700BC) left sculptures which show dance and musical instruments like string instruments and drums. The origins of Indian classical music can be found in the Vedas, which are the oldest scriptures in the Hindu tradition dating back to 1500 BC. India's classical music tradition is millennia long and remains important to the lives of Indians today as a source of religious inspiration, cultural expression, and entertainment. In Indian culture, music, dance or whatever else you did was not entertainment, it was also a spiritual process. In classical music, the way sound is used - the ragas, the tunes, everything - is such that if you get deeply involved in it, it will bring meditativeness. Classical Indian music has, to a mathematical precision, recognized which sound can do what.

What is Indian classical music?

What is Western classical music?

Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western music (both liturgical and secular). It encompasses a broad span of time from roughly the 11th century to the present day. The word "Classical", when used to describe a musical style, is used by popular culture to distinguish this kind of music from jazz, rock, or other contemporary styles. The word "classical", however, actually is a period of time in Western Art Music that describes the music of Haydn, Mozart and early Beethoven, as well as other composers who lived at that time. The general time designations are Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern. However, the term "Classical Music" has come to be known as a term for a genre of music that spans the course of hundreds of years, including all the music from Palestrina to Stravinsky, to the current day. Many people are unaware that Classical music is still being composed today, although it is far different than what was created several hundred years ago.

What is the difference between Indian and Western classical music?

There are essential differences between the two systems

Carnatic classical music

Carnatic music is said to have originated in the Karnatak region of south India. The founder of the Karnataka School is considered to be Purandara Dasa (1494). It is performed as both a vocal and instrumental form of music, with an emphasis on melody, raga (scale) and rhythm.

Carnatic (Southern Indian) ragas constitute one of the oldest systems of music in the world. A Raga is nothing but a combination of several notes tones or swaras. They have an essence flavor and characteristic in them. They are based on seven rhythmic cycles and 72 fundamental ragas and can be played and accompanied with different instruments like the mridangam, violin, ghatam, etc. The fundamental format of Carnatic songs is the "kriti", which are usually set in the style of a raga (the raga serves as the melodic foundation). The songs are usually in Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, or Malayalam.

Carnatic music abounds in structured compositions in the different ragas. These are songs composed by great artists and handed down through generations of disciples. While the improvised elaboration of a raga varies from musician to musician, the structured portion is set.

An important element of Carnatic music is its devotional content. The lyrics of the traditional compositions, whether mythological or social in nature, are set entirely against a devotional or philosophical background.

Key Elements of Carnatic music

Shruti or Pitch - Carnatic Music is a melody based system and every sound produced revolves around a central concept of Shruti or Pitch.

Swaras or Notes - There are basically seven swaras - sa, ri, ga, ma, pa, da, ni, arranged in the order of increasing frequency. Of these, sa and pa are invariable, whereas the swaras Ri, Ga, Da and Ni have three variations (mentioned as Ri1, Ri2, Ri3, Ga1, Ga2, Ga3 and so on...) and Ma has only two variations. Thus we end up with sixteen swaras.

Raga - A combination of swaras in a particular sequence. Every raga has an ascending and descending sequence of swaras, called the arohanam-avarohanam, which can be called the DNA of the raga.

Tala - It is the rhythm component of Carnatic Music. In Carnatic music, keeping the rhythm is done by hand gestures. There are several talas, the most common tala being, the Adi tala, which contains 8 beats per cycle.

What is the difference between Hindustani and Carnatic classical music

Both Carnatic and Hindustani Music follow the same notes/ swarams. They differ in the pattern/prayogam in which the notes are used.

What are the similarities between Hindustani and Carnatic classical music?