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Approaching Carnatic Music

Read this excerpt on Approaching Carnatic Music  from the Perfecting Carnatic Music Level 2 Book published by IFCM.
 

Carnatic music is one of the most colourful, complete and evolved melodic systems of the world. With over 7.2 million melodic scales (ragas) and hundreds of rhythmic cycles (talas) to choose from, there is very little that a good Carnatic musician and composer cannot do, especially from a melodic perspective.

 

The roots of Carnatic music can be traced to Vedic times. Carnatic music has also drawn significantly from Tamil music, the latter, at least as ancient as its Aryan counterpart. Thus, today’s Carnatic music symbolizes the essence of the two major cultures, viz., Vedic and Tamil, thereby encompassing the best of Indian culture as a whole.

 

Basic characteristics:

 

  • Carnatic music gives equal importance to melody, rhythm and lyrics.
  • It places equal emphasis on composition and improvisation.
  • It is a fine blend of science and art and can be appreciated at an intellectual or emotional level.
  • It combines grace and force in adequate proportions.

 

Wholesome and versatile:

 

A Carnatic concert provides a wholesome experience. It combines melody, rhythm and lyrics, and places equal emphasis on composition and improvisation. A listener enjoys contrasting speeds ranging from the fast and exciting to the slow, deep and tranquil, and gets to hear lilting melodies and sophisticated rhythms.

In recent years, top-notch Carnatic artistes have also brought to fore the versatility of the system through collaborations with musicians and composers from several other cultures including Western classical, pop, blues, jazz, Chinese, African and South American. A musician with a good grounding in Carnatic music will easily be able to relate to and adapt to almost any system in the world, since several aspects that are being experimented with or innovated upon in parallel systems have been anticipated and surpassed by Carnatic musicians centuries ago. It must be the endeavour of every aspirant to develop the vision and ability to render Carnatic music in the most refined and attractive manner.

 

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