Q:

How do you get started with Carnatic music on the keyboard?

A:

According to the Sruti Academy of Indian Music and Arts in New Jersey, the seven swaras are interspersed among the twelve keys of an octave. Some of the single note keys in the Western keyboard style are equivalent to multiple swara, so understanding the location of the seven swara in correlation with the notes of Western style can be helpful in learning to play Carnatic music on a keyboard.

Carnatic, or Karnatic, music comes from the southern region of India, typically expressed as a form of religious devotion and is strongly based in Hindu culture and history. It is predominantly based in four Indian states; Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. This style of music resembles singing or vocal sound more than instrumental sound. The raga, or basic melody, is the structural foundation, and the song can be easily improvised from there as the unification of twelve keys in one octave and the seven swaras provide a possibility of 72 variations of raga to use. These 72 variations of raga are classified by one scientific system called Melakartha, which forms the basis of the Carnatic music structure. Melakartha is made up of the seven swara: Shadjama, Rishaba, Gandhara, Madhyama, Panchama, Daivatha and Nishadha.

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