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Carnatic Classical Music

Carnatic music is the classical music of South India. One of the world's oldest and richest musical traditions, it traces its ancestry to the same fountains that nourish Hindustani music.

Mridangam played in concert

In the early 16th century, Purandara Dasa started his well-known systemizing of the music by creating exercises and ladders by which musicians could reach excellence in the music of his time. In the seventeenth century, Venkatamakhi further systematized music theory with his 72 scales, the melakartas.

Late Eighteenth Century

As in the emergence of modern Hindustani music, in the late eighteenth century three composers—Muttuswamy Dikshitar, Shyama Sashtri, and Tyagaraja— brought Carnatic music into its contemporary presentational formats though their innovative and endearing compositions, many of which continue to form the core of concerts.

Present Day

In the present day, the violin and mridangam (barrel-shaped drum) are the instruments most often heard at Carnatic concerts; but they are joined by the vichitra and Saraswati veenas, the flute (venu), and modern western instruments such as the saxophone, clarinet, and mandolin which have adapted to play the richly ornamental style of this music.