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It is a difficult task to speak about our Classical Music or the Dance, and the most difficult part would be to keep your self content to certain points.

Sahithya Sangeetha Kala Vihina ha
Sakshath Pashuhu Prucha vishana henaha
Thrunam Nakadanapi Jeevamamsta Thath
Bhagadeyam Paramam Pasunaam

The above verse means that the person who does not have the knowledge or interest in Sangeetham, sahithyam or fine arts is referred as an animal, the animal that does not have tail or horns. Looking at such person, animals feel happy thinking that there is a creature below them too …

India possesses an unbreakable Musical Heritage from centuries, It is believed that the Music has it’s origins from Vedas. The first ever “Om” Kara is believed to be the basic Aadhara (supporter) of Saptaswaras (Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Da Ni) the same in descending order (Sa Ni Da Pa Ma Ga Re), The SAMA Veda (word Sama means the Veda that can be sung) promises the origins of Music. When Vedas have been subdivided the entire musical Knowledge has been concealed in the Veda called “Gaandharva Vedam”.

Thy Lord Shiva who is known to be the “Laya kaara” is the ultimate source of the music and other art forms. When we refer to our Puranas and Itihasas there are many scholars of Music and Dance ex: Saraswati with her Veena is the goddess of music. Tumbura, Narada, Ravana, Sri Krishna is known to be the well versed Musicians.

The Tumbura who is a Gandharva, is a well versed scholar of Classical Music.

Narada Muni who has special place in the Indian Mythology, has become a well versed musician after he has done sishyarikam to Lord Sri Krishna and his wives, it is said that the Sri Krishna has asked Narada to seek singing knowledge from his wives first.  Narada muni has learnt music from Rukmini Devi, sathya bama, jambavathi, Mitravinda, Bhadra, Naagnajuthi, Kalindi, Lakshmana for eight years (has learnt music for 1 year from each one of them) then Sri Krishna gave him the complete musical knowledge with which Narada muni became the best Scholar of Classical Music.    

After the Mention of the Vedas as the reference to Classical Music the other best reference would be the Bharata Muni’s Natya Shastra, the text which contains 6000 slokas, is believed to have been written in between 200 BC and 200 AD. The Natya Shastra is based upon the much older Gaandharva Vedam (sub division of Sama Vedam) which contains 36000 slokas.

Sangita Ratnakara written by Sharangadeva who expected to be in between 1210–1247 AD is considered to be the most important scripture on Classical music, after Bharata Muni’s Natya Shastra. The book or scripture has seven chapters with a common title Saptadhyayi. Six chapters deal with music and the remaining one with dance. Various classifications of ragas Swaras Talas Jetties are mentioned in this book. This is expected to be the last text available on the Classical music, before the diversion of Classical Music in Two Streams Hindustani and Carnatic Music from 13th Century. It is said that the Classical Music under went tremendous changes because of the Islamic and Persian invasions on India . Since then the Bharatiya sangeeta sampradayam has change (the Indian classical music has changed) These Two streams have effect of their own on each and every individual. Then they have started to call these as the Hindustani and carnatic Music. The Hindustani Music has the effect of Islamic and Persian Music, which is mostly based on Alap. The major vocal forms-cum-styles associated with Hindustani classical music are Dhrupad, Khayal and Tarana. Other forms include Dhamar, Trivat, Chaiti, Kajari, Tappa Tap-Khayal, Ashtapadis, Thumri, Dadra, Ghazal and Bhajan, most of these are folk or semi-classical or light classical music, as they often do not adhere to the rigorous rules and regulations of classical music. Although vocal music plays an important role, instrumental music is more important in Hindustani than it is in carnatic music. The most prominent instruments of Hindustani music are the Sitar, Sarod, Sarangi, Shehnai, Tabla, and Tambura, Bansuri and on.


Miyan Tansen is a well known Vocalist of the Hindustani music along with Amir Khusro and  Baiju. Tansen was born in Gwalior in a Hindu family and was named as Tannu Mishra. His musical training has began under the guidance of Haridas Swami, a renowned music teacher of those times. Tansen was given the first chance to perform in front of king Ramachandra of Mewa Bandhavgarh. Later on he got an opportunity to exhibit his versatility and skill in front of the Mughal emperor Akbar. He was one among the nine jewels at the court. It was Emperor Akbar who called him Miyan Tansen and since then he is known by this name. Sufi mystic Shaykh Muhammad Ghaus of Gwalior was the one to introduce Islam to Tansen. Till date, Tansen is considered to be the best musician. If not the best, he is no less than his own guru Swami Haridas and his equivalent person Amir Khusro. There are many legends that are suggestive of the fact that there was a magic in his singing, capable enough to cause miracles like bringing downpour with Raga Megh Malhar and fire with Raga Deepak. His musical repertoire consists of several ragas. Some of his notable works include Miyan ka Bhairav, Darbari Kanada, Miyan ki Malhar, Miyan ki Todi, Rageshwari, Darbari Todi and many more. The credit for initiating the Dhrupad style of singing goes totally to Tansen and his guru Swami Haridas. His music had the power to light up the candles. Tansen has left his divine abode in the year 1589.

Some of the Vocal and instrumental Legends of Hindustani music are Late Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Bismillah Khan (shehnai), Amir Khan, Begum Akhtar (thumri and dadra).

Some of the living legends are Pt.Bhimesen Joshi, Kishori Amonkar, Pt.Jasraj, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan(sarod), Ustad Zakir Hussain (tabala), Pt.Hari Prasad Chaurasia (bansuri), Ram Narayan (sarangi) Pt.Shiv Kumar Sharma (hundred-stringed santoor).

Carnatic Music:

The Carnatic music is a very highly developed theoretical system. It is based upon a complex system of Ragam and Thalam.  The Ragas are classified into various modes. These modes are referred as melakarta, which are 72 in number, unlike a simple scale there are definite melodic restrictions and compulsions. The Thalam is the rhythmic foundation of the Carnatic music. Purandaradasa (1480-1564) is considered to be father of Carnatic music, To him goes the credit of modification of the method of Carnatic music. He is renowned for formulating the basic lessons of Carnatic music. He structured and graded exercises known as Saraliswaras etc, and at the same time, introduced the Ragam known as Mayamalavagowla as the first scale to be learnt by beginners, He has also composed Gitas (simple songs) for beginners, He is credited for the creation of several songs. Another great name associated with Carnatic music is that of Venkat Mukhi Swami. He is regarded as the grand theorist of Carnatic music. He also developed "Melankara", the system for classifying south Indian ragas. It is said that it was in the 18th century that Carnatic music acquired its present form. This was the period that saw the "trinity" of Carnatic music; Thyagaraja, Shyama shasthry and Mutthuswami Dikshitar. Numerous other musicians and composers have also enriched the tradition of Carnatic music. Some other notable Carnatic music exponents are Papanasam Shivan, Gopala Krishna Bharati, Swati Tirunal, Mysore Vasudevachar, Narayan Tirtha, Uttukadu Venkatasubbair, Arunagiri Nathar and Annamacharya.

There are a number of sections in the Carnatic Musical performance. Varnam is a composition usually sung or played at the beginning of a concert as they are fast and grab the audience's attention. It literally means a description about a raga, and how to approach a certain note, in a classical and characteristic phrases of a raga, the scale of the raga, and so on. Though there are different types of varnams, in essence they all have pallavi, an anupallavi, mukthayi swaras, a charanam, and chittaswara. They are sung in multiple speeds, and are very good for practice. The krithis are fixed compositions in the raga. They have a well identified composer and do not allow much scope for variation. The "Alapana" offers a way to unfold the Ragam to the audience and at the same time allows the artist a substantial scope for creativeness. Ragam is a free melodic improvisation played without mridangam accompaniment. Tanam is yet another style of melodic improvisation in free rhythm.
Trinity of Carnatic Music:

Kakarla Tyagabrahmam, popularly known as Tyagayya was born on May 4 1767 in Tiruvarur, a small town in the Thanjavur district of Chennai (now in Tamil nadu state) to Kakarla Ramabrahmam and Sitamma in a Telugu Brahmin family of the Mulukanadu subset. He was named Tyagaraja, after Lord Tyagaraja, the presiding deity of the temple at Tiruvarur. Tyagaraja was born at his maternal grandfather Giriraja kavi's house. Giriraja Kavi was a poet-composer in the court of the king of Thanjavur. Tyagaraja began his musical training under Sri Sonti venkataramanayya a noted music scholar, at an early age.Tyagayya was one of the greatest composers of Carnatic Music. Sri Tyagaraja was a great devotee of Lord  Rama,  has composed about 24,000 songs most of  them in praise of Lord Rama, Written in his Mother tongue Telugu, but a few in Sanskrit, He regarded music as a way to experience the God's love. His compositions remain very popular even today. Of special mention are five of his compositions called the Pancharatna Krithis which are often sung in concerts in his honour.

Muthuswami Dikshitar was born in Tiruvaru of Thanjavur district in the state of Tamil Nadu, to a Tamil speaking Iyer Brahmin couple Ramaswami Dikshitar and Subbamma, as the eldest son.  Muthuswami Dikshitar was born in the manmatha year, on 24 March 1775.  He was named after the temple deity, Muttukumaraswamy, It is said that he was born after his parents prayed for a child in the temple called Vaitheeswaran Temple. Muthuswami learnt the Vedas, and other important religious texts, and has obtained his preliminary musical education from his father. While he was still in his teens, his father sent him on a pilgrimage with a wandering monk known as Chidambara yogi, to gain musical and philosophical knowledge. Over the course of this pilgrimage, he visited many places. During their stay in Kasi his guru ChidambaraYogi has presented Dikshitar with a unique Veena (Legend say’s that the Veena has been gifted by the Goddess Saraswathi), It is said that the guru has asked Muthuswami to visit Tirutanni Temple, There while he was immersed deep in meditation, an old man appeared and asked him to open his mouth. He dropped sugar candy into his mouth and disappeared. As he opened his mouth, he had a vision of the deity Muruga, and Dikshitar burst forth into his first composition "Shri Nathadi Guruguho" in the raga Mayamalavagowla.Muthuswami Dikshitar attained mastery over the Veena, and the influence of Veena playing is evident in his compositions, particularly in the gamakas.His most of the compositions are very widely sung in the concerts. Most of his compositions are in Sanskrit and in the krithi form i.e. poetry set to music. Muthuswami Dikshitar traveled to many holy shrines throughout his life, and composed krithis on almost all the deities; Sri Muthuswami dikshitar has attained Moksha on October 21, 1835.

Syama Sastri was born in Tiruvarur, Thanjavur district now in Tamil Nadu state, into a scholarly and priestly Tamil speaking Smartha Vadama brahmin family. His father Viswanatham was the hereditary priest in the Temple, responsible for the worship of goddess “Bangaru kamakshi” whose temple is in Thanjavur. The child was named Venkatasubrahmanya, but came to be affectionately known as Syama Krishna. The family was comfortably settled and maintained a long tradition as devoted priests and scholars, but it was not known to have had any musicians before Syama Sastri. Sastri's father ensured that he attained scholarship in Telugu and Sanskrit at a young age; his maternal uncle gave him a basic music education. When he was 18 years old, he moved with his family to Thanjavur. A sannyasy known simply as Sangita Swami, who was a fine, learned musician skilled in dance, was the family's guest during the chaturmasya period one year. Recognizing the young man as a most talented musician, he took great care to thoroughly teach the young man many advanced aspects of music during his four-month stay, and gave him several rare musical texts. Syama Sastri composed kritis as his two prolific contemporaries; He composed kritis, varnams and swarajatis in Telugu and Sanskrit and mostly on the goddess, with the ankita or mudra (signature) 'Syama Krishna’ He was probably the first to compose in a new form of the swarajati musical genre. His set of three famous swarajatis is intended to be sung in concert , and sometimes referred to as "ratna traya" (three jewels). They are in ragas Bhairavi, Yadukulakamboji and Todi, and are called Kamakshi Anudhinamu, Kamakshi Padhayugame, and Raave Himagiri Kumari, respectively. Sri Syama sastri has attained Mortality in the year 1827.

Some of the greatest Legends of Carnatic Music are

Late Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa iyer (July 25, 1908 – October 31 2003) Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar  Carnati music singer from the state of Kerala. Usually known by his village name Chembai, or simply as Bhagavatar, he was born to Anantha Bhagavatar and Parvati Ammal in 1895. Chembai was noted for his powerful voice and majestic style of singing. His first public performance was in 1904, when he was nine. He was a recipient of several titles and honours in his performing career of 70 years (1904-1974).
Madhurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi, popularly known as M.S or M.s.s (September 16, 1916 - December 11, 2004) was a renowned Carnatic vocalist. She was the first musician ever to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honor.

Damal Krishnaswamy Pattammal (28 March 1919 – 16 July 2009) was a prominent Carnatic musician. She has received Sangeetha Kalanidhi (1970; highest award in Carnatic music)

Madras Lalitangi Vasanthakumari (popularly referred to as MLV) (July 3, 1928 - October 31, 1990), was a disciple of G. N. Balasubramaniam, one of the great singers in the Carnatic musical tradition of southern India. She is also popularly referred to as one among the female trinity of Carnatic music, others being D. K. Pattammal and M. S. Subbulakshmi. She was the youngest awardee of the most prestigious award in Carnatic music, Sangita Kalanidhi. Her most famous disciples include Srividya (her daughter), Sudha Raghunathan, A. Kanyakumari and Charumathi Ramachandran.

Sangeetha Kalanidhi Maharajapuram Santhanam (1928 - 1992 ) was one of the great Carnatic music vocalists of the 20th Century. He was born in Sirunangur, a village in the state of Tamil Nadu. He followed the footsteps of his father Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyerwho was also a Carnatic singer.

G. N. Balasubramaniam January 6, 1910 - 1 May 1965), popularly known as GNB, was a vocalist in the Carnatic tradition.

Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna (born July 6, 1930) is a legendary Carnatic Music vocalist and musician. He has also composed a number of classical songs.Balamuralikrishna was born Sankaraguptam, Andhra Pradesh. His father was a well known musician and could play the flute, violin and the veena and his mother was an excellent veena player. Musunuri Suryanarayana Murty Bhagavatar, a distinguished Harikatha performer, gave the prefix 'Bala' to the young Muralikrishna. This title has stuck to him ever since. Balamuralikrishna was a child prodigy and started performing vocal concerts from the age of five. Balamuralikrishna thus began his musical career at a very young age. He soon mastered a variety of instruments. He can play the violin, viola, khanjira, veena, mridangam and other instruments.

Uppalapu Srinivas (born February 28, 1969) is an Indian mandolin player of the Carnatic musical tradition. Srinivas was born February 28, 1969, in Palakol in Andhra Pradesh.Srinivas plays an electric mandolin. He was awarded the Padmasree in 1998 and the Sangeet Nataka academy Award in 2010.

Mahamahopadhyaya Dr. Nookala Chinna Satyanarayana (4 August 1923) is a Carnatic Musician. Born in Anakapalli, Andhra Pradesh to Yegnachayanamma and Annapurneswara Sarma. His mother fostered his talent and gave him basic training in musics. He was honoured Padma Bhushan by Government of India in 2010.