should be used or avoided, and so on. In effect, it is a series of obligatory
musical events which must be observed, either absolutely or with a particular
frequency. Ragas may be divided into two classes: janaka ragas (i.e.,
melakarta or parent ragas) and janya ragas (descendant ragas of a particular
janaka raga). Janya ragas are themselves sub-classified into various
categories.
Thala system Thala refers to a fixed time cycle or metre, set for a
particular composition, which is built from groupings of beats. Thalas have
cycles of a defined number of beats and rarely change within a song. They
have specific components, which in combinations can give rise to the variety
to exist (over 108), allowing different compositions to have different
rhythms.
    Carnatic music singers usually keep the beat by moving their hands up
and down in specified patterns, and using their fingers simultaneously to keep
time. Thala is formed with three basic parts (called angas) which are laghu,
dhrtam, and anudhrtam, though complex thalas may have other parts like
plutam, guru, and kaakapaadam. There are seven basic thala groups.
Compositions
In contrast to Hindustani music of north India, Carnatic music is taught and
learned through compositions. These compositions contain many intricate
musical details, thereby providing scope for free improvisation. Almost every
rendition of a Carnatic music composition is different from another and
unique as it captures the elements of the composer"s vision, as well as the
musician"s interpretation.
    A Carnatic music composition has two elements of identity. The first one
is the musical element. The second one is what is conveyed in the
composition or the subject matter. It is probably for this fact that most
Carnatic music compositions are made for singing. In addition to the rich
musical experience, each composition brings out the knowledge and
personality of the composer. Thus the words are as important as the musical
element itself. This makes it not only unique, but also poses a special
challenge for the musicians because rendering this music does not just
involve playing or singing the     correct musical notes. The musicians are