Carnatic Music is a form of Indian classical music with origins in Southern India. Lyrics in Carnatic music are largely devotional; most of the songs are addressed to the Hindu deities. Many songs emphasize love and other social issues or rest on the concept of sublimation of human emotions for union with the divine. Thus, for instance, a young woman in a modern classical composition will be yearning for one of the deities, such as Krishna, as her "lover" - the purpose of such musical pieces being at once to provide an outlet for human emotions and, unlike in the normal run of motion pictures, to address God rather than another human being. Carnatic music as a classical form is always thus required to be a culturally elevating medium. Carnatic music, whose foundations go back to Vedic times, began as a spiritual ritual of early Hinduism. Hindustani music and Carnatic music were one and the same, out of the Sama Veda tradition, until the Islamic invasions of North India in the late 12th and early 13th century. From the 13th century onwards, there was a divergence in the forms of Indian music - the Northern style being influenced by Persian/Arabic music. As with all Indian classical music, the two main components of Carnatic music are raga, a melodic pattern, and tala, a rhythmic pattern.

In Carnatic Vocal Music, the raga is particularly difficult to master, and emphasis on the solfege of Carnatic music is highly pronounced in vocal training. The solfege system includes the syllables "sa-ri-ga-ma-pa-da-ni" (compare with the Hindustani sargam: sa-re-ga-ma-pa-dha-ni). These names are abbreviations of the longer names shadjam, rishabham, gandharam, madhyamam, panchamam, dhaivatam and nishadam. Unlike other music systems, every member of the solfege (called a swara) may have up to three variants. The exceptions are shadjam and panchamam (the tonic and the dominant in Western music), which have only one form, and madhyamam, which has only two forms (the subdominant). In one scale, or ragam, there is usually only one variant of each note present, except in "light" ragas, such as Behag, in which, for artistic effect, there may be two, one on the way up (in the arohanam) and another on the way down (in the avarohanam). A raga may have five, six or seven notes on the way up, and five, six or seven notes on the way down.

Instructor:  Shobana Raghavan Raj



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