Smitha K. Prasad
The following articles have appeared in a monthly publication over the years- I have reproduced the articles in their entirety in an effort to make this information accessible to students as well as those interested in Carnatic music.
This set of articles (2,3) introduces some basic terminologies used in Carnatic Music
Evolution of Carnatic Classical Music
The next set of articles (6-33) discusses the evolution of Carnatic music and its response to the changing social and political environments through the centuries. The evolution discussion starts with the Veerashaiva movement of the 11th and 12th centuries and then looks at the Bhakti movement in both North India (Surdas and Meerabai) and South India.
The main proponents of the Bhakti movement in South India were the Haridasas including composer saints such as Purandaradasa, Kanakadasa among others.
Continuing the journey in time, we reach a point in time where India was ruled by the British and observe the influence of the British Raj on Carnatic music.
In the pre-independence era in India, Carnatic music enjoyed great patronage in the royal courts of South India. Apart from being patrons, a number of kings were also composers of repute, the most famous perhaps being Maharaja Swathi Tirunal and Sri Jayachamaraja Wodeyar.
The next segment in time leads to a discussion on Indian independence and the influences that it brought about in Carnatic music. Composers such as Subramanya Bharatiyar and Carnatic musicians such as Smt. D.K. Pattammal are synonymous when discussing Indian independence.
Role of Women in Carnatic Music
It is interesting to observe the role that women have played in Carnatic music and how that role has undergone its own revolution as a response to societal changes. Women, both composers and performers, have contributed richly to Carnatic music. A number of women such as Bangalore Nagarathnamma, D.K. Pattammal among others were trail-blazers in Carnatic music and contrary to expectation, quite revolutionary!
Despite being a traditional art form, Carnatic music has been extremely responsive in adapting to technology- be it the introduction of a sound system or the electronic tanpura or the use of Skype which has revolutionized the world of teaching.
Along with a changing landscape, newer formats in Carnatic Music presentations such as thematic concerts, jugalbandhis have gained popularity among audiences.
This concludes the series on the evolution of Carnatic Music and its response to changes in the socio-political landscape.
To a large extent, my reference texts have been the volumes of "South Indian Music" by Prof. P. Sambamoorthy.
Additionally, "Theory of Music" by Vid. Vasanthamadhavi
Notes and snippets that I have picked up while attending various lecture-demos, music magazines and of course the Internet!