Carnatic music is a system of music commonly associated with the southern part of the Indian subcontinent, its area roughly confined to four modern states of India – Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka. It earned its name also because Carnatic music developed to its present form in Krnataka state. It is based on Hindu tradition.
In many cultures, especially Hindu culture, music has always been part of the religion. There is an element of of devotion while Carnatic music is sung. It is able to steal the heart of the listener and is pleasing to the mind. Enjoying Carnatic music, goes beyond barriers of region, religion and culture. The other widely known Indian classical system of music is Hindustani music.
Rather than develop one raga and tala (Rhythm cycle) for an hour or more, as often happens in Hindustani music, the Carnatic musician presents a variety of short pieces, with perhaps one or two extended ones, in a variety of ragas and talas.
Learning carnatic music:
Purandara Dasaa formulated a system to teach Carnatic music. It involves first Varisals, (graded exercise) followed by Alankaras, (it is based on seven talas), Geethams, (simple songs) and Swarajathis.
When the student attains a certain proficiency, he/she goes to the next step of learning, learning to sing Varnams and Krithis. Several years of learning and practice are required to reach a stage whereby they can give a concert independently.
In olden days Carnatic music was taught in the “gurukula” system, whereby the student lived with his guru and learnt the art from him. From the later part of 20th century, with changes in lifestyle and the need for music aspirants to simultaneously pursue a parallel academic career, the modern student preferred to go to the home of the guru or to his school daily or weekly. Today, even though there are modern gadgets like CDs, web cameras and modern sound systems, most gurus of Carnatic music empathasise on their students learning from them in person.