Performances of Carnatic Music

Performances Of Carnatic Music

Carnatic music is usually performed by a small ensemble of musicians, who sit on an elevated stage. This usually consists of at least; a principal performer, a melodic accompaniment, a rhythm accompaniment, and a drone.

The tambura is the traditional drone instrument used in concerts, however, tamburas are increasingly being replaced by śruti boxes, and now more commonly, the "electronic tambura". The drone itself is an integral part of performances and furnishes stability - the equivalent of harmony in Western music.

Performances can be musical or musical-dramatic. Musical recitals are either vocal, or purely instrumental in nature, while musical-dramatic recitals refer to Harikatha. But irrespective of what type of recital it is, what is featured are compositions which form the core of this genre of music.

In a vocal recital, a concert team may have one or more vocalists, accompanied by instrumentalists as melodic and rhythmic accompaniments. Instruments, such as the veena and/or flute, can be occasionally found as a rhythmic accompaniment, but usually, a vocalist is supported by a violin player (who sits on his/her left). The rhythm accompanist is usually a mridangam player (who sits on the other side, facing the violin player). However, other percussion instruments such as the ghatam, kanjira and morsing frequently also accompany the main percussion instrument and play almost in a contrapuntal fashion along with the beats. The objective of the accompanying instruments is far more than following the melody and keeping the beats. The accompaniments form an integral part of every composition presented, and they closely follow and augment the melodic phrases outlines by the lead singer. The vocalist and the violinist take turns while elaborating or while exhibiting creativity in sections like raga, niraval and kalpanaswaram. Unlike Hindustani music concerts, where an accompanying tabla player can keep beats without following the musical phrases at times, in Carnatic music, the accompaniments have to know follow intricacies of the composition since there are percussion elements such as eduppu, in several compositions. Some of the best concerts feature a good bit of interaction with the lead musicians and the accompaniments exchanging notes, and accompanying musicians predicting the lead singer musical phrases.

See also: Indian musical instruments

Read more about Performances Of Carnatic Music:  Concert Content, Audience, Modern Concerts

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