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Carnatic and Hindustani Singing: Highlights, Commonalities, And Differences

14th Jun, 2022

Indian classical music was usually centered on two traditions throughout the medieval period: Carnatic music in South India and Hindustani classical music in North India. This article begins with a quick introduction to Hindustani and Carnatic singing aspects, then discusses the significant distinctions between the two before concluding with their commonalities.

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Hindustani and Carnatic Singing - Highlights

Let us discuss the primary aspects of Carnatic singing and Hindustani music.

  1. Indian music is a form of art and culture with a long history.
  2. There was only one type of classical music in India before the 13th century.
  3. Classical music after the thirteenth century has been divided into two distinct styles. With the arrival of Amir Khusro in North India, Persian and Mughal influence became quite intense.
  4. Tansen and his contemporaries usually sang in the Dhrupad style, and Sadarang and Adarang later championed Khayal singing.
  5. Carnatic music was primarily developed by Shyama Shastri, Tyagraja, Muthuswamy Dikshitar, and Saint Purandaradasa.
  6. The majority of classical training nowadays is centered on Krithis composed by these great saint artists.

Natya Shastra, written by Bharatha Muni, a musicologist, can be used to deduce the history of Indian music. The Natyashastra deals with the "Natya Shastra," or foundational theory of music, dance, and drama. There were 22 notes in an octave under this. The concept of 'Sruti' was proposed to let people choose a suitable reference 'root' pitch based on the musicians' comfort level. A number of 'Rasas' and 'Bhavas,' or expressions, were identified.

Types of Classical Music

Hindustani and Carnatic music vocal music come from a common point of origin. Carnatic music arose from the Bhakti movement, whilst Hindustani music arose from the Vedic era. As a result, both have a strong religious connection. Both the music and the Vedic traditions emerged with Sanskrit language scripts.

Dhrupad, Khayal, Tarana, Thumri, Dadra, and Gazals are the principal vocal styles of Hindustani music. Alpana, Niraval, Kalpanaswaram, and Ragam Thana Pallavi are examples of Carnatic music with a lot of inventiveness.

Hindustani Music Vocal's Characteristics:

Here are the basic characteristics of Hindustani vocal music.

  1. The moral structure of the song is highlighted (Nadi and Samvadi swaras).
  2. 'Joda' is a song in which the performer recites the clap at a rapid rate. Following that, Taal is left alone.
  3. The deformed swars are inserted after the full swars have been judged complete.
  4. 'Tilawal' refers to the Thaat of pure swars. The swars offer variety and adaptability.
  5. It adheres to time limits. For morning and evening, there are several ragas.
  6. Taals are a typical species.
  7. Ragas are divided into two categories based on gender, i.e., male and female.
  8. When transitioning between ragas, there is no ratio in Hindustani music.

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Carnatic Music Vocal's Characteristics:

We are listing below the basic characteristics of Carnatic music vocals.

  1. The sound intensity can be adjusted.
  2. In this style, helical (Kundali) swaras are used. Raga in a free and traditional style.
  3. The 'aalap' and 'taanam' are recited by the vocalist.
  4. According to the shrutis, the distorted swars are given names. They will begin after that.
  5. Swars have a high purity since they have fewer shrutis.
  6. The pure swars are known as 'mukhari.'
  7. In Carnatic music, the time durations are well-defined. Madhya is twice as big as Vilamba, while Dhruta is twice as big as Madhya.

Similarities Between Hindustani And Carnatic music

Carnatic and Hindustani music have certain similarities, which are as follows:

  1. The melody takes center stage in both the Carnatic and Hindustani traditions.
  2. Every Raga has one leading swara or Vadi swar in both styles.
  3. To construct Janya Raga, both use the Sampoorna Scale (with all seven notes) to depict Janak Thaat or Raga.
  4. In the Raga form, both use a Tanpura or Drone with one or two notes to represent pitch and base.

The following are the main differences between the Hindustani and Carnatic Music:

  1. Carnatic music is based on Kriti, whereas Hindustani music is based on ragas.
  2. In contrast to the gamaka-based Carnatic ragas, Hindustani emphasizes pure notes.
  3. Raga (alapanas) in Hindustani is studied note by note, but in Carnatic music, it is done phrase by phrase.
  4. Hindustani music includes several shaileys, while Carnatic music includes styles such as Madurai Mani Iyer's, G.N. Balasubramaniam's, and others.
  5. In Hindustani, instrumental and vocal repertoires are separated, whereas Carnatic instrumentalists used to perform the same Kriti-based compositions as the vocalists.
  6. In Hindustani music, the concept of Upa Pakka Vadyam does not exist.
  7. In Hindustani, the sarangi is a popular accompaniment, but in Carnatic, the violin reigns supreme.
  8. In Carnatic music, the concept of Tani Avartanam is used, with the tabla player interspersing solos between the leading artist's rendition.


If you want your child to learn Hindustani Or Carnatic music lessons online, you must connect with Kafqa Academy. We have expert music teachers who train every child in classical music and ensure that they get the best learning experience. Our splendid Hindustani Or Carnatic Music lessons are available at a very nominal fee. Get in touch with us today if you want more information on Carnatic music vocal classes and its impact on children.

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