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Musical Thoughts

Carnatic Music – Role and Popularity

An excerpt from Perfecting Carnatic Music Level 1 E-book by Chitravina N Ravikiran.  – Part 1
Introduction

The art of music is like an ocean. It is vast and deep.

One could go for a swim and come back feeling refreshed. This is what most listeners do.

One could take a boat out into the sea and return with a haul of fish. This is what many students do. Or, one could dive deep into it and emerge with invaluable treasures. This is what master musicians do.

The ocean accommodates all, yet, one can only lay claim to having seen a small part of its immensity. The ocean demands dedication and investment of time, energy and emotion (not to mention money) from anyone who ventures into it . The ocean poses challenges, which can only be anticipated and overcome with the guidance of a very able guru.

What exactly is music?

One would be tempted to reply, “Elementary, my dear Watson! Anything that is melodious to the ear, is music!”

A more scientific approach would be to perceive it as a special means of aural expression with organised, regular vibrations.

What is the role of music in everyday life?

Music could be viewed as an end in itself, as an art form that can entertain, educate or elevate the practitioner as well as the listener. One can seek perfection in music for its own sake.

Music could also be viewed as a means to promote peace, unity and goodwill among people all over the world. Many people have seen and shown the astounding qualities of music towards improving man’s output and health.

Carnatic music and its popularity

Carnatic music is one of the most colourful, complete and highly evolved melodic systems in the world, dating back to at least 2000-3000 years, the earliest stages of Vedic and Tamil culture. While it combines melody, rhythm and lyrics, it also places equal emphasis on compositions and improvisation, to offer both, emotive and intellectual pleasure. A listener enjoys contrasting speeds ranging from the fast and exciting to the slow, deep and tranquil and gets to hear some of the world’s most beautiful melodies and sophisticated rhythms.

Carnatic music enjoys an ever-increasing popularity because of its ability to entertain and elevate audiences of all age groups across the planet. Every year, leading Carnatic musicians are invited to present concerts, lectures and courses in countries such as USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Australia, Singapore, Japan, and South Africa, as part of major international festivals. Top-notch Carnatic artistes have also shown the versatility of the system through collaborations with musicians and composers from other systems of music including Western Classical, Pop, Jazz, Chinese, African and South American.

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