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How is Hindustani Music different from Carnatic Music


Differences between Hindustani and Carnatic Music

Indian Music has many genres like folk, bollywood, Rabindra Music, pop, indi-pop, Indian rock, etc. Similarly, the two most important systems (or genres) in classical music are Hindustani Classical Music and the Carnatic Classical Music. Below is a short description on each of them and then some differences between these two systems of music.

Hindustani Classical Music

This is the classical music of North India. It is practised and taught majorly in the north. It diverged from Carnatic music in the late 13th or early 14th century. This music is practised only in north India and a very few artists can be found practising this music in the south. There are many sub-genres of this music like Khyal, Dhrupad, Dhamaar, Tappa, Thumri, Dadra, Tarana, Ghazlas, etc. You can refer to one of my previous article to read more about these  This music emerged from the saints and the Vedic Brahmins of that period who use to sing hymns and sacred chants. It started in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan and later spread over to Persia, where Persian and Urdu words were added to these hymns/ tunes. This music was not only influenced by the Hindu musical traditions but also by Persian and Mughal emperors.

Shahid Parvez
Shahid Parvez

The ancient practise of Dhrupad form of singing started in this form of music; some of the great known dhrupad singers were Swami Haridas, Miyan Tansen, Ustad Bilaskhan, etc. After a certain period of time, the dhrupad form of singing slowly declined and Khyal singing was practised; some of the great known Khyal singers were Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Ustad Amir Khan, Pandit Sawai Gandharva, Pandit Kumar Gandharva, Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande, etc.

Kumar Gandharva
Kumar Gandharva

This music is not limited to only vocals, instruments like the pakhawaj, sitar, tabla, veena, flute, shehnai, etc. are an integral part of Hindustani Classical music since its start. Some of the greatest instrumentalists’ are- Ustad Bismillah Khan (Shehnai), Pandit Pannalal Ghosh (Flute), Ustad Allah Rakha Khan (Tabla), Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan (Sarod), Ustad Allaudin Khan (Sarod), Ustad Ali Akbar Khan (Sarod), Pandit Ravi Shankar (Sitar), Ustad Vilayat Khan (Sitar), etc.

Hari Prasad Chaurasia
Hari Prasad Chaurasia

Get to know more about Hindustani Classical and its history music by reading my previous articles

Follow the following links to listen to these great artists-

  1. Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali (Vocals)-
  2. Ustad Vilayat Khan (Sitar)-
  3. Ustad Bismillah Khan (Shehnnai)-
  4. Ustad Allah Rakha Khan (Tabla)-
  5. Pandit Pannalal Ghosh (Flute)-



Carnatic Classical Music

The present form of Carnatic music is based on the changes and developments made in this music in the 15th-16th Century and thereafter. This music is more famous and practised in the southern part of India as compared to North India. A traditional Carnatic music performance generally consists of a vocalist, a violinist and a percussionist. In Carnatic music main emphasis is given to the ‘gayaki’ factor of music i.e. the vocal part rather than the instrumental part. As you must have read above; Hindustani music was influenced by the Persians and the Mughals however Carnatic was unaffected by these languages hence south Indian languages are used in this form of music. Carnatic music was mainly patronized by the local kings of the Kingdom of Mysore and Kingdom of Travancore in the 18th through 20th centuries. Some of the royalty of the kingdoms of Mysore and Travancore were themselves noted composers and proficient in playing musical instruments.

Some prominent Carnatic artists are as follows-

  1. S Subbulakshmi (Vocals)-
  2. Balamuralikrishna (Vocals)-
  3. T.H. Vinayakram (Ghatam)-


  4. Srinivas (Mandolin)-

Some differences

between Hindustani and Carnatic Music

Hindustani vs Carnatic


This was all you needed to know about Carnatic and Hindustani Music. Do watch out for the links in the article and listen to the ragas rendered by these great artists.

Drop your comments in the box below.


  1. Hi shubham your article about the ragas are really good but can you explain words like thaat and swara and words like that so it would be easy to understand for people who do not have knowledge on the language of music. thanks great articles by the way


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