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Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Appreciating Carnatic Music

Indian Institute of Technology Madras and NPTEL via Swayam

This course may be unavailable.


Carnatic music is a vibrant musical tradition that has evolved, and is largely practiced, in Southern India and wherever else there is a significant diaspora of South Indians. A highly nuanced and tonally rich melodic music, its rhythmic aspect too is considerably complex. As much as it is rooted in tradition there is immense demand on the improvisational skills of the musicians. The coming together of these two aspects in a concert can give the listener a musical high. What makes this music so unique and rich? What happens in a typical concert? What do we look for? Who were the great musicians and composers who have made the music what it is today? These are some of the questions this course will try to answer. What does a student need to bring to this course? An interest in music, a willingness to bite into a music technically and aesthetically very different from popular music-s and other forms like Western Classical music. It would help if you have heard Carnatic music before, but that is not absolutely necessary. You will hear plenty during the course.INTENDED AUDIENCE : GeneralPREREQUISITES : NilINDUSTRY SUPPORT : Nil


Music in IndiaVariety of Music in India – Folk, popular, religious and classical music.

Musical materialThe 12 pitches or swara sthana-sThe scale - natural or just tempered scale as opposed to the equal or even tempered scale.

Raga - the basic melodic facet of Indian musicWhat makes for a raga – swara (note/tone), gamaka (embellishment), pidi (phrase), graha, nyasa, jeeva swaras.Variety of raga-s and their classification. The 72 melakarta schema

Tala - the rhythmic facetConcepts of the avartanam, samam, and eduppuSuladi sapta tala schema

CompositionComposers - the Carnatic trinity and their contribution; before them and after themKinds of composition: Varnam, Kriti, Padam, Javali.Bhakti and Carnatic Music

ImprovisationWhat is the nature of improvisation in Carnatic music; various kinds of improvisation - alapana, neraval, swara prastara and tanam. The RTP - Ragam, Tanam, Pallavi.

Presentation of a Carnatic concert - the meshing of the compositional and improvisational aspects.

Accompaniment - its unique nature in Carnatic music.

Percussive and melodic instruments

Listening to a Carnatic concert - aesthetic and technical aspects.

Taught by

Lakshmi Sreeram



3.5 rating, based on 2 Class Central reviews

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  • Saianusuya
    Pls take class in tamil music sports art design my to daughter learn music free online classes pls help me
  • Vembu Anand
    One of the most detailed explanations on theory and practice of carnatic music. Really needs appreciation of the teacher and NPTEL for doing this. My only suggestion is that all the lessons are not available on YouTube. It can be compiled on a dvd and sold separately

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