Difference Between Hindustani and Carnatic Music

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 9, 2022, 10:21

Hindustani music and Carnatic music are two major traditions of Indian Classical Music. While classical music of Northern India is referred to as Hindustani music, Carnatic music is associated with Southern India.

Among other Difference Between Hindustani and Carnatic Music, the two traditions differ in presentation, composition, instruments, improvisation, etc.

Hindustani Music and Carnatic Music - Overview

Hindustani music and Carnatic music are quite different in their styles. The differences mainly emerge because of the Iranian and Arabian influences prominent in Hindustani music due to the Islamic conquest of the Northern regions of the Indian subcontinent in the 12th and 13th centuries.

On the other hand, Carnatic music is unaffected by Islamic influence. Furthermore, the two schools are also differentiated by the names of compositions they use and their content. Hindustani music exercises more liberty to improvise, whereas Carnatic music restricts improvising its compositions considerably.

Hindustani music has several Gharanas, unlike Carnatic music.

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Difference Between Hindustani and Carnatic Music

Let's look into the various stylistic Difference Between Hindustani and Carnatic Music -

Points of Difference

Hindustani Music

Carnatic Music

Origin

Hindustani music is the classical music of the Northern parts of the Indian subcontinent. It is also referred to as Shastriya Sangeet or North Indian Classical Music and originates in the Vedic period.

Carnatic Music is also known as Karnatak music, Karnataka Sangeetha, or spelt as Karnatic. It originated from Southern India, more so from the city of Hyderabad and other Dravidian-speaking regions of India.

Dominant Centers

Chief centres of Hindustani music in the 21st century are Jaipur, Gwalior, Agra, Delhi, Varanasi, Mumbai, and Kolkata.

Today, the principal centres of Carnatic Music are Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, and Kerala.

Instruments

Major instruments in Hindustani Music include Sitar, Sarangi, Sarod, Tabla, Shehnai, Tambura, etc.

Prominent musical instruments of Carnatic Music are Flute, Ghatam, Violin, Veena, Tamboori, Mridanga, Harmonium, etc.

Compositions

The compositions of Hindustani music are less heavy than those of Carnatic music. Some major compositions associated with Hindustani music are Chaiti, Dhrupad, Dadra, Dhamar, Ghazal, Khyal, Tarana, Tappa, Trivet, Kajari, Ashtapadis, Thumri, etc.

Compositions in Carnatic Music are lengthier, more complex, and have great variety, such as Arnam, Javali, Keertana, Kriti, Tillana, Padam, Pallavi, Ragamalika, Swarajati, etc.

Core Elements

The basic elements of Swara, Raga, and Tala are the same as the foundation of both traditions. In addition, there are Alap, Taan, Jor, Jhala, Gat, Alankaar, Bandish.

Sruti, Swara, Raga, Taala

Content

Hindustani music places greater importance on instrumental music.

In Carnatic music, vocals play a crucial role, and the content is more devotional.

Famous Practitioners

Bismillah Khan, Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, Tansen, Zakir Hussain, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Shivkumar Sharma, etc.

Aruna Sairam, M. Balamuralikrishna, M. S. Subbulakshmi, Nithyasree Mahadevan, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Sudha Raghunathan, K J Yesudas, etc.

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Indian Classical Music adds to the rich artistic heritage and culture of India. Unaffected by foreign influences, Carnatic music reflects a more homogenous form of Indian tradition. However, the charm lies in the Difference Between Hindustani and Carnatic Music, accompanied by the essence of melodies, instruments, and rhythm.

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FAQs on the Difference Between Hindustani and Carnatic Music

Q.1. What is the Difference Between Hindustani and Carnatic Music in terms of origin?

The Difference Between Hindustani and Carnatic Music in terms of origin is that Carnatic music originated from the ancient Hindu traditions of Southern India, while Hindustani Music evolved from the northern regions of the Indian subcontinent.

Q.2. Is there a Popularity Difference Between Hindustani and Carnatic Music?

No, there is no clear difference between the popularity of Hindustani and Carnatic music. Both are equally intense and popular. However, compared to Carnatic music artists, practitioners of Hindustani music have travelled abroad more, collaborated, and hosted concerts with Western artists.

Q.3. What is the Difference Between Hindustani and Carnatic Music in terms of the time of origin?

The Difference Between Hindustani and Carnatic Music in terms of the time of origin is that Hindustani music is believed to have originated in the Vedic period and is older than Carnatic music, which originated in the Bhakti movement (15th-16th Century).

Q.4. What is the Difference Between Hindustani and Carnatic Music in terms of content?

The Difference Between Hindustani and Carnatic Music in terms of content is that Hindustani music is more diverse and has evolved over the years for entertainment, while the content of Carnatic music is more philosophical and devotional and has undergone fewer changes.