Appreciating Carnatic Music

By Prof. Lakshmi Sreeram   |   IIT Madras
Learners enrolled: 1015
Carnatic music is a vibrant musical tradition that has evolved, and is largely practiced, in Southern India and wherever else there is a significant diaspora of South Indians. A highly nuanced and tonally rich melodic music, its rhythmic aspect too is considerably complex. As much as it is rooted in tradition there is immense demand on the improvisational skills of the musicians. The coming together of these two aspects in a concert can give the listener a musical high. What makes this music so unique and rich? What happens in a typical concert? What do we look for? Who were the great musicians and composers who have made the music what it is today? These are some of the questions this course will try to answer. What does a student need to bring to this course? An interest in music, a willingness to bite into a music technically and aesthetically very different from popular music-s and other forms like Western Classical music. It would help if you have heard Carnatic music before, but that is not absolutely necessary. You will hear plenty during the course.

Course Status : Completed
Course Type : Elective
Duration : 8 weeks
Category :
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit Points : 2
Level : Undergraduate/Postgraduate
Start Date : 25 Jul 2022
End Date : 16 Sep 2022
Enrollment Ends : 08 Aug 2022
Exam Date : 25 Sep 2022 IST

Note: This exam date is subjected to change based on seat availability. You can check final exam date on your hall ticket.

Page Visits

Course layout

Music in India
Variety of Music in India – Folk, popular, religious and classical music.

Musical material
The 12 pitches or swara sthana-s
The scale - natural or just tempered scale as opposed to the equal or even tempered scale.

Raga - the basic melodic facet of Indian music
What makes for a raga – swara (note/tone), gamaka (embellishment), pidi (phrase), graha, nyasa, jeeva swaras.
Variety of raga-s and their classification. The 72 melakarta schema

Tala - the rhythmic facet
Concepts of the avartanam, samam, and eduppu
Suladi sapta tala schema

Composers - the Carnatic trinity and their contribution; before them and after them
Kinds of composition:  Varnam, Kriti, Padam, Javali.
Bhakti and Carnatic Music

What is the nature of improvisation in Carnatic music; various kinds of improvisation - alapana, neraval, swara prastara and tanam.  The RTP - Ragam, Tanam, Pallavi.

Presentation of a Carnatic concert - the meshing of the compositional and improvisational aspects.

Accompaniment - its unique nature in Carnatic music, Percussive and melodic instruments, Listening to a Carnatic concert - aesthetic and technical aspects.

Books and references


Instructor bio

Prof. Lakshmi Sreeram

IIT Madras
Trained in Carnatic music since her childhood, Lakshmi has been a performer for over 25 years. She also performs Khayal, a north Indian tradition of classical music. She has a Ph.D in Philosophy from the University of Bombay focusing on the idea of dhvani in Anandavardhana’s Dhvanyaloka, a 9th century Sanskrit text in the tradition of Alankarasastra (literary theory). She has been teaching introductory courses on Carnatic and Hindustani music at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. She is also a freelance journalist. For more details and music clips, please visit www.lakshmisreeram.com.

Course certificate

The course is free to enroll and learn from. But if you want a certificate, you have to register and write the proctored exam conducted by us in person at any of the designated exam centres.
The exam is optional for a fee of Rs 1000/- (Rupees one thousand only).
Date and Time of Exams: 25 September 2022 Morning session 9am to 12 noon; Afternoon Session 2pm to 5pm.
Registration url: Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations.
The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published. If there are any changes, it will be mentioned then.
Please check the form for more details on the cities where the exams will be held, the conditions you agree to when you fill the form etc.


Average assignment score = 25% of average of best 6 assignments out of the total 8 assignments given in the course.
Exam score = 75% of the proctored certification exam score out of 100

Final score = Average assignment score + Exam score

YOU WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR A CERTIFICATE ONLY IF AVERAGE ASSIGNMENT SCORE >=10/25 AND EXAM SCORE >= 30/75. If one of the 2 criteria is not met, you will not get the certificate even if the Final score >= 40/100.

Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup.It will have the logos of NPTEL and IIT Madras .It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.

Only the e-certificate will be made available. Hard copies will not be dispatched.

Once again, thanks for your interest in our online courses and certification. Happy learning.

- NPTEL team

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