Tamil Music Compared to Western music

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According to one saying, music brings people close together. People have been creating music since the beginning of time. It is our way to express every feeling from happiness to sadness, without uttering a single word. Nowadays, there are so many different kinds of tunes one can choose from in order to find his favorite. In the following text, we are going to introduce you to Tamil music and compare it with the Western one.

Tamil music’s tradition reaches back to the earliest period of Tamil history. The first traces of it can be found in the narrative poem Cilappatikaram which belongs to the post-Sangam period. Many contemporary artists have tried to bring back the popularity of Indian music, and because of many differences, it can be hard to incorporate it into the Western world. However, A. R. Rahman has managed to successfully present it to the world by blending it with electronic music, traditional orchestral arrangements, and global music. He has written and composed songs for over 100 Bollywood movies that have become loved all around the globe.

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The biggest difference between these two types of melodies is that the Western one is written on a piece of paper using musical symbols. The tune is later played by closely following what was written. On the other hand, Indian music is a product of improvisation. Artists can change the notes while performing, whilst that kind of improvisation is not allowed in the Western tunes.

Furthermore, Tamil pieces are created to form the association with nature and are closely connected with spirituality; while on the other hand, Western does not possess such a connection. They are created based on one’s experience and feelings, and with the goal to entertain.

In addition, globally popular artists emphasize the complexity of the composition and key changes in a single piece. In contrast, as mentioned above Indian music is improvised which means that it is usually performed in a single key. Besides, the main goal of Tamil tunes is to enjoy and experience the melody and notes, whereas Western creators want their audience to pay attention to the lyrics. If you want to listen to some original Tamil pieces, check out Tamildada.

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Moving on to the technical side of writing pieces, Indian composers use so-called ragas and Western ones use notes. Raga or raag is a pattern used for improvisation in Indian classical music. Raga consists of structures with musical motifs which are considered to have to ability to “color the mind” of the listeners. On the contrary, Western music uses diverse scales and different sets of notes depending on the music genre.

Other differences include:

  • The use of various musical instruments
  • Language usage meaning that global music can now be written on any language while Indian music has restrictions when it comes to this. This music is mainly composed in South Indian languages.
  • Tamil songs are usually performed by a single individual, while tunes from other parts of the world can be interpreted by groups and artists with backing vocalists.

To conclude, these are some main differences between these two types of music. If you are not familiar with Tamil music, we recommend you to change that and get a glimpse into another culture.