Hindustani And Carnatic Music: Differences and Similarities

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Hindustani music has developed in the northern regions of India, whereas Carnatic music flourished simultaneously in the southern provinces. The primary difference between Hindustani and Carnatic music is found in the melodies, which also highlight India’s division between North and South. Every musical genre has a distinct representation that is typified by various tunes and songs. Hindustani and Carnatic music are both commonly used in a number of pieces.

One of the most crucial subjects for the UPSC IAS exam is the difference between Hindustani and Carnatic music. A large portion of the General Studies Paper-1 syllabus’s Art & Culture subject is covered. The differences and similarities between Hindustani and Carnatic music will be examined in this section.

Important Periods in the History of Indian Music

The three main eras of Indian music history are – ancient, medieval, and modern.

  • Ancient music spans the Vedic era and ends in Sangita Ratnakara’s time.
  • It resulted in the separation of Indian music into the Hindustani and Carnatic branches in the 14th century.
  • These two branches developed and became well-established.
  • During this time, a large number of composers and musicologists emerged, enhancing the understanding of musical forms such as tala and raga.

Introduction: Hindustani And Carnatic Music

Let’s check out the introduction of Hindustani and Carnatic music below, which will help the aspirants know about the music in a better way:

  • Indian music has a long history and is a component of art and culture.
  • There was only one kind of classical music in India earlier than to the 13th century.
  • Two distinct genres of post-13th century classical music have been identified. With Amir Khusro, Persian and Mughal influence started to take root in North India.
  • Tansen and his contemporaries primarily played Dhrupad music, while subsequently Sadarang and Adarang encouraged Khayal singing.
  • On the other hand, Saint Purandardas, Muthuswamy Dikshitar, Shyama Shastri, and Tyagraja were primarily responsible for the evolution of Carnatic music.
  • Kritis, produced by these great saint musicians, was the focus of most classical instruction.
  • The musicologist Bharatha Muni’s book Natya Shastra contains the history of Indian music. The “Natya Shastra,” or foundational doctrine of music, dance, and drama, is covered in the Natyashastra. There were 22 notes in an octave under this. The concept of “Sruti” was introduced to allow people to choose an appropriate reference “root” pitch according to how comfortable the musicians are. There were identified a number of “Rasas” and “Bhavas,” or phrases.

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Classical Music

The music systems of Carnatic and Hindustani originate from a single ancestry.

Hindustani music began during the Vedic era, while Carnatic music sprang from the Bhakti movement. As a result, both have a strong religious connection. Sanskrit scripts were used in the development of the music, as well as Vedic customs.

Hindustani music primarily features vocal styles such as Dhrupad, Khayal, Tarana, Thumri, Dadra, and Gazals. Carnatic music, which includes Ragam Thana Pallavi, Kalpnaswaram, Niraval, and Alpana, embraces a great deal of originality.

Characteristics of Hindustani Music

Let’s check the characteristics of Hindustani Music below:

  • A focus on the song’s moral message (Nadi and Samvadi swars).
  • The clap, called “Joda,” is fast-paced and performed by the singer. Taal is left alone after that.
  • Complete swars have been considered completed, at which point deformed swars are added.
  • The term “Tilawal” refers to the thaat of pure swars.
  • The swars are versatile and have range.
  • Time constraints are adhered to. Morning and evening ragas are distinct from one another.
  • Taals are typical.
  • Ragas are based on the distinction between genders.
  • Hindustani music does not use a ratio while changing ragas.

Characteristics of Carnatic Music

Characteristics of Carnatic Music are mentioned below:

  • In this style, the sound’s intensity can be adjusted.
  • It is clear that helical (Kundali) swaras are used.
  • Both free and conventional raga style.
  • The vocalist enacts the “taanam” and “aalap.”
  • The shrutis are used to name the warped swars. They begin subsequently.
  • Less shrutis, or great purity, are the foundation for swars’ purity.
  • The term “mukhari” refers to the thaat of pure swars.
  • The Carnatic music has clearly defined time intervals. Madhya is double the value of Vilamba, while Dhruta is twice the value of Madhya.

Difference Between Hindustani and Carnatic Music

The table below provides details on the differences between Hindustani and Carnatic music.

Carnatic MusicHindustani Music
72 ragas6 major ragas
Veena, Mridangam and MandolinTabla, Sarangi, Sitar and Santoor
IndigenousAfghan Persian and Arab
Only one particular prescribed style of singingSeveral sub-styles
Freedom to improviseScope to do variations and improvise
Both have equal importanceMore importance to vocal music

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Similarities Between Hindustani and Carnatic Music

Just like differences, Hindustani and Carnatic music have some similarities as well. Let’s have a look at them as well:

  • In both the Carnatic and Hindustani genres, the melody is the main focus.
  • In every Raga, both have a single leading swara or Vadi swara.
  • Both describe Janak Thaat or Raga as creating Janya Raga using the Sampoorna Scale (all seven notes).
  • In the Raga capture, both use a Tanpura or drone with one or two notes to represent pitch and base.
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What distinguishes Carnatic music from Hindustani music?

The main difference between Carnatic and Hindustani music is that the former came from South India and does not feature Gharanas, while the latter originated in Northern India.

Who is Carnatic music’s founder?

The founder of Carnatic music is regarded as Purandaradasa. He is recognised for penning numerous Keerthanas under the pen name Purandara Vittala. He is recognised for having codified Carnatic music. In addition, he is recognised as the author of thousands of Carnatic songs.

What instruments are used in Hindustani music?

Hindustani music is typically played on the sitar, sarod, sarangi, shehnai, tambura, and tabla, among other instruments.

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