Carnatic Music

The term Carnatic music refers to the music of the southern states of India. In fact most of the literature of south India was in the form of poetry that was set to music and sung by one and all. The earliest findings of such poetry dates back to 400 AD, which were sung by Karaikal ammaiyar. Andal, the world’s first female poet wrote 173 Tamil songs in which she expresses her devotion to god. The vocals of Carnatic music is accompanied with the veena; violin; mridangam; and venu, which is a south Indian version of the flute.

The following is a list of some of the renowned Carnatic music composers, through the ages:

  • Arunagiri naathar is said to have composed 16029 Tamil songs, of which at present 1311 songs are available. It is said that if these songs are sung in accordance to his prescribed rules is can bring about a peaceful and blissful state of mind
  • Srinivasa Nayak composed Carnatic music in Kannada. In one of his songs he claims that he had composed 4,75,000 compositions
  • Muththu Thaandavar had created a number of compositions that form the backdrop for Bharatha Natyam performances
  • Arunachala kavi raayar is known to have created the popular Tamil dance drama of Rama Natakam
  • Ooththukkaadu Venkatasubbaiyer has composed compositions dedicated to Lord Krishna
  • Saint Tyagaraja composed approximately 688 compositions in Telugu; with a few in Sanskrit
  • Syama Sastry composed about 300 compositions in Sanskrit and Telugu
  • Gopala Krishna Bharathi penned several hundred Tamil compositions
  • Father Beschi was an Italian who composed the lie of Jesus in tamil
  • Subramanya Bharathi composed nearly 1000 songs about nature, politics, the various religions and society
  • Papanasam Sivan created more than 500 compositions in Tamil
  • Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar brought back tamil music into Carnatic music concerts


There are a large number of variations in Carnatic music. Here is a list o a few of them with a brief introduction:

  • Varnam is a musical composition generally performed at the commencement of a recital. And is divided into purvanga, which is the first half; uttaranga, which is the second half.
  • Kriti is a song composed with a particular raga and fixed rhythmic or taal cycle.
  • Ragam is a composition in free rhythm
  • Tanam is a musical style created in rhythm
  • Pallavi is a group of musical compositions with lyrics to a single cycle of taal
  • Swara-Kalpana is performed with a drummer in speeds ranging from medium to fast
  • Rangamalika is where the vocalist improvises throughout and returns to the original theme in the end