Carnatic music is commonly associated with the four modern states of south
India. This category of Indian music that evolved from ancient Hindu
traditions is different from the other category of Indian classical music,
known as the Hindustani music. The Hindustani music emerged as a distinct
form because of influences by the Persian and Islamic cultures in north India.
However, the main emphasis in Carnatic music is on vocal music. Carnatic
music compositions are written for the purpose of singing, and even when
played on instruments, these compositions are meant to be performed in
gāyaki (singing) style.
     Although there are stylistic differences, the basic elements of sruti (the
relative musical pitch), swara (the musical sound of a single note), raga (the
mode), and thala (the rhythmic cycles) form the foundation of improvisation
and composition in both Carnatic and Hindustani music. Although
improvisation plays an important role, Carnatic music is mainly sung through
compositions, especially the kriti (or kirtanam) – a form developed between
the 14th and 20th centuries by composers such as Purandara Dasa and the
Trimurthi or trinity of Carnatic Music. The contemporaries Tyagaraja (1759–
1847), Muthuswami Dikshitar (1776–1827) and Syam Sastri (1762–1827) are
regarded as the trinity of Carnatic music because of the quality of Syam
Sastri"s compositions, the varieties of compositions of Muthuswami
Dikshitar, and Tyagaraja"s prolific output in composing kritis. Carnatic music
is also usually taught and learnt through compositions.
     Carnatic music is usually performed by a small ensemble of musicians,
consisting of a principal performer (usually a vocalist), a melodic
accompaniment (usually a violin), a rhythm accompaniment (usually a
mridangam), and a tambura, which acts as a drone throughout the
performance. Other typical instruments used in performances may include the
ghatam, kanjira, venu, veena, etc. The most outstanding performances, and
the greatest concentration of Carnatic musicians are found in the city of
     By the 16th and 17th centuries, there was a clear demarcation between
Carnatic and Hindustani music. Carnatic music remained relatively
unaffected by Persian and Arabic influences. Purandara Dasa, who is known
as the father (Pitamaha) of Carnatic music, formulated the system that is
commonly used for the teaching          of this music, while Venkatamakhi