Carnatic music is an ancient classical music of southern India. History tells that the origin of Carnatic music dates back to 2500 years. Carnatic music is the oldest and the richest form of music in the world whose present form is believed to be based on the historical developments of the 15th-16th centuries and thereafter.
The basic form is monophonic with 72 basic scales on the octave with a rich melody. Carnatic music has got a varied melody and rhythmic structure. Its two major elements are Raga and Tala. Its origin is considered to be ‘divine’. Carnatic music started growing at the time of Vijayanagar Empire with the Haridasa movement led by Vyasaraja, Purandara Dasa, Kanakadasa and others. The fundamentals of this music were framed by Purandara Dasa., father of Carnatic music who has composed around 475,000 compositions.
Major aspects of Carnatic music are Sruti (pitch), Raga (melody), Swara (sound), Tala (beat), Kritis (songs), Varnam (notes).The five major styles of singing are Raga Alapana, Niraval, Kalpanaswaram, Thanam, Ragam Thanam Pallavi.
Some leading composers of Carnatic music (17th-19th Century A.D.) are:
- Papanasa Mudaliar
- Paidala Gurumurti Sastri
- Marimutthu Pillai
- Muthuswami Dikshita
- Veena Kuppayyar
From 19th-20th Century A.D. :
- Mysore Sadasiva Rao
- Anai Ayya brothers
- Koteeswara Iyer
- Harikesanallur Muthaiah Bhagavatar
- Mayuram Viswanatha Sastri
- Dandapani Desikar
Some modern Carnatic artistes are M.L.Vasanthakumari, M.S.Subbulakshmi, Muthiah Bhagavathar and Madurai Mani Iyer. T.N.Seshagopalan, K.J.Yesudas, Aruna Sairam, Unni Krishnan, Ramachandran, O.S.Thyagarajan, O.S.Arun are the leading modern vocalists.
Important Carnatic musical treatises are:
- Sangeetha Ratnakara – Sarngadeva
- Sangeetha Sampradaya Pradarshini – Subbarama Dikshitar
- Swaramela Kalanidhi – Ramamatya
- Natya Shastra – Bharata Muni
- Sangeetha Sudha – Govinda Dikshitar
Every December, a six week-long music festival is organized in Chennai.