Carnatic… Classical or Heretical?

I am saying a few things about Classical Music in India. There are predominantly two schools of music in India- Hindustani in North and Carnatic in South. But both are based on the same original work of Venkatamahi which is in Sanskrit. The next best works is by Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande in Hindi – for Hindustani Music. In carnatic, theoretical works are lacking. There is also a theory that fall of Vijaynagar destroyed the base of carnatic music and had to be re defined. This can be seen from the fact, that many Ragas are not appearing in their namesake melakarths. North Indian version is that wrongly R G M P D N S was re cast as S R G M P D N .The carnatic music is very popular and was made popular by Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar. He created Sabhas (Associations) and made the carnatic music very popular. But in the process of making it popular its purity was lost. One major mistake is that singers put their own Thala (Beat) this goes haywire and in the process the song is sung without thala. Many carnatic music doyens may become angry but here is the proof. Normally instrumentalist can play to perfect beat. But in Carnatic music, Mridunga is played adjusting the singer’s wrong beats and they loose ability to play to Beat. That is why in Bhartnatyam dance the singers and mridunga artists are different as a wrong beat will make the dancer into quandary. So you won’t find good singers for dance programs and also Mridunga players are ordinary players who cannot play in cuchery (Vocal concerts). Many Mridunga players who are not famous got chances to go to USA with Dancers and good famous players started envying them. Don’t still believe me then put Balamurali krishna’s cassette and switch on the beats in keyboard and watch (I have done it). As per Venkatamahi, “Thal (beat) is the mother and swaras are children playing in the lap of the mother”. Probably carnatic musicians are the only people in the world who do not sing to beat. But one thing goes without saying the only classical music that is so famous and popular is carnatic music though it may have lost its sheen as classical a bit. In North India even before teaching Sargam they teach Tabla ka bhol and almost all music teachers can play Tabla to keep the Thal. Also identifying the swaras is very important not singing. See for yourself (Proof of the Pudding is in eating it) by going to YouTube and hear a 5 year old with 7 months of training sing Rag Yaman.

                                              Back To Musings Topics List


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. N.Saikrishnan
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 08:14:15

    Sir, I have gone through your post. Though I am not a trained Musician, I am a Rasikha of both Carnatic and Hindustani Music. The correct name is VENKATAMAHI and similarly for Hindustani Music, it is VISHNU NARAYAN BHATKHANDE. The Vidwan who organised the Cutcheri format is Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar and perhaps you are confusing his name with Shri Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar. Both the systems have their own merits. While I appreciate the Hindustani Music for its strict adherence to Swara, Carnatic is relished both for the music and the lyrics. Further the Gamaka prayogas in Carnatic music by really competent vidwans, take you to another world. There is nothing like one superior to another.


    • mghariharan
      Mar 31, 2011 @ 10:19:46

      I agree with everything you have said and stand corrected. The gamaka portion of carnatic music is also correct. Because the Hindustani musicians give more importance to the swara purity the gamaks’s scramble lots of swaras within short span. Hindustani musicians also appreciate the beauty of carnatic music and are oveawed by the beauty. Unfortunately the training of youngsters in carnatic starts all wrong and cause loss of talents. I wish somebody takes this seriously. People like Udit narayan etc have started music classes and even when they evaluate kids in Zee music programs they are very strict. Latha mangeshkar had announced Crores of Rs to start music classes. people like shankar Mahadevan have started Hinduthani Music school in Bangalore and go about it very seriously. I find lack of theory books in carnatic music a great bane.


  2. v subramanian
    Apr 02, 2011 @ 13:57:11

    It is not clear as to what you mean by ‘carnatic music singers not playing to beat”. Do you mean that every beat has to be matched by a swara; in other words there should not be any kaarvais? Carnatic music system has a very elaborate thala system, the singing of thisram being one of the greatest inventions. I am told that the thala ‘simhanardhanam’ has 96 beats per cycle and Smt Charulata Ramachandran demonstrated a pallavi in that thalam. If you have any doubt about thalam in carnatic music, please see the youtube videos of carnatic music idol 2011 and listen to the questions asked.


    • mghariharan
      Apr 02, 2011 @ 18:48:53

      You cannot put Thal yourself and also sing only gandharvas can sing like that. Instrumental musicians can keep thal and also play. But if yoy watch Hindustani musicians even that they dont allow the singer will sing the same line again and again withour variation when Tabla is playing thani avarthanam. I have said try with csette of any player and put the beat in the key board and watch Also I have said mridungam players of carnatic cannot play to thal ask any Dancer. Sorry I cannot give any more proofs.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 140 other followers

%d bloggers like this: