ABout the art forms

Carnatic music is a system of music commonly associated with southern India, including the modern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, as well as Sri Lanka. It is one of two main subgenres of Indian classical music that evolved from ancient Hindu traditions, the other subgenre being Hindustani music, which emerged as a distinct form because of Persian or Islamic influences from Northern India. The main emphasis in Carnatic music is on vocal music; most compositions are written to be sung, and even when played on instruments, they are meant to be performed in gāyaki (singing) style.

Although there are stylistic differences, the basic elements of sruti (the relative musical pitch), swara (the musical sound of a single note), raga (the mode or melodic formulæ), and tala (the rhythmic cycles) form the foundation of improvisation and composition in both Carnatic and Hindustani music. Although improvisation plays an important role, Carnatic music is mainly sung through compositions, especially the kriti (or kirtanam) – a form developed between the 14th and 20th centuries by composers such as Purandara Dasa and the Trinity of Carnatic music. Carnatic music is also usually taught and learned through compositions.

Nattuvangam is a unique and intricate form of vocal percussion with cymbals that accompanies certain Indian classical dance forms.

At Silambam, music lessons include both Carnatic music classes (vocal and violin), and music as an ancillary to dance (vocal and nattuvangam). Emphasis is placed on a strong foundation of basics and perfecting sruti, swara, raga, and tala techniques, while kindling and maintaining the student’s interest through the teaching of short pieces. Our music track students progress through the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels of the Silambam music curriculum, whereas our dance track students proceed through the beginner and intermediate levels of the music curriculum and then move to sollukattu, thattukazhi, and nattuvangam training to supplement their dance education.


Director: Raji Natarajan

Co-director: Lavanya Rajagopalan



Introduction to sruti and tala, sarali and jantai varisai, nottuswarams, simple geethams

Intermediate Prerequisite: Beginner

Jantai and dhaatu varisai, understanding tala patterns, alankarams, nottuswarams, geethams, introduction to swarajathis


Advanced 1 Prerequisite: Intermediate

Nadai-s, deconstructing and using tala in choreography, sollukattu enunciation, learning to wield the thattukazhi

Advanced 2 Prerequisite: Advanced 1

Perfecting sollukattu enunciation and thattukazhi, introduction to nattuvangam

Advanced 3 Prerequisite: Advanced 2

Honing nattuvangam, sollukattu skills and advanced choreography


Advanced 1 Prerequisite: Intermediate

Swarajathis, varnams, perfecting gamakas.

Advanced 2 Prerequisite: Advanced 1

Varnams, krithis, introduction to manodharma

Advanced 3 Prerequisite: Advanced 2

Krithis, manodharma