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Carnatic Music Lessons

What is Carnatic music?

Carnatic music or Karnataka sangitam is a renowned Indian classical genre, and it is primarily associated with southern India which includes the state Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, as well as Sri Lanka. Carnatic music is a part of two main subgenres of Indian classical music that evolved from ancient Hindu traditions, the other subgenre being Hindustani music. The Carnatic music emphasises vocal music and instruments.

Carnatic music instruments

The Carnatic music highlights the vocal and the instrumental aspect of it. There are a variety of instruments that are used in Carnatic music including veena, venu, gottuvadyam, harmonium, mridangam, kanjira, ghatam, nadaswaram and violin.

Origin of Carnatic music

Carnatic music or Carnatic sangeet is one the most recognised music genres in south Indian classical music. Carnatic music has rich antiquity and tradition and is considered as one of the treasures in the world music. The origin of Carnatic music dates back to the 13th century A.D. During this period 3 of the most renowned musicians Thyagaraja, Shamashastri and Muthuswami Dikshitar compiled their famous compositions, they were also called" trinity" of Carnatic music. Following in their footsteps, other musicians and composers have also contributed to the evolution of Carnatic music.

Carnatic music ragas

A Carnatic raga has several components - primordial sound (nada), the tonal system (swara), pitch (shruti), scale, ornaments (gamaka) and essential tones.
Nada - Composer-performers of the past and present aim to realise nada; however, the sound that is audible to human ears is only a fraction of primordial sound.
Swara - The Carnatic tonal system consists of seven primary pitches, expressed by the solfa syllables: Sa (shadja), Ri (rishabha), Ga (gandhara), Ma (madhyama), Pa (panchama), Da (dhaivata) and Ni (nishadha).
Scale - A Carnatic raga consists of an ascending and descending scale pattern (known as aarohana and avarohana respectively). Both ascent and descent should have at least five tones, although rarer ragas contain fewer tones. Scales establish rules for all performers to adhere to in melodic performance and provide a tonal boundary. Typical scale features also act to help listeners identify ragas.
Gamaka - Gamaka, or ornamentation, is essential in Carnatic raga performance. Gamaka encompasses controlled shaking, articulating, sliding, glottal stops and other vocal or instrumental manipulation. The swara and scale define only the skeletal structure of a raga. The handling of Gamaka defines the raga.

A person who wants to learn Carnatic music must have basic knowledge of Shruti (Pitch) and Laya (Tala). Shruti indicates the scale or the pitch on which music is performed keeping its frequency as the foundation. Taala refers to the rhythmic cycles in which the swara (notes) and the saahithyam (Lyrics) are set. Carnatic music lessons have become more accessible, and many famous music academies provide training, and also there are online courses, where students can access video tutorials and are provided with ample course material. Carnatic music course attempts at building confidence in students to sing irrespective of their voice quality.

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