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  • 06 Dec 2022 GS Paper 1 Indian Heritage & Culture

    Day 24

    Question 1. Compare and contrast the Hindustani and Carnatic Styles of Music. (150 Words)

    Question 2. Discuss the main characteristic features of the Mohiniyattam style of dance. (150 Words)

    Answer 1


    • Start your answer by giving a brief about the Hindustani Style of Music and the Carnatic Style.
    • Compare the Hindustani Style of Music and the Carnatic Style.
    • Conclude suitably.


    Hindustani music is practised in the northern parts of India and Carnatic music is practised in the southern parts of India. While the historical roots of both the music types belong to the Bharata’s Natyasastra, they diverged in the 14th century. The Hindustani branch of music focuses more on the musical structure and the possibilities of improvisation in it. The Hindustani branch adopted a scale of Shudha Swara Saptaka or the ‘Octave of Natural notes.

    The Carnatic branch creates music that is played in the traditional octave. The music is kriti based and focuses more on the saahitya or the lyric quality of the musical piece. The Kriti is a highly evolved musical song set to a certain raga and fixed tala or rhythmic cycle.


    Comparison Between Hindustani Music and Carnatic Music

    Points of Difference Hindustani Music Carnatic Music
    Influence Arab, Persian and Afghan Indigenous
    Freedom Scope for artists to improvise. Hence scope for variations No freedom to improvise
    Sub-styles There are several sub-styles which lead to emergence of Gharanas Only one particular prescribed style of singing
    Need for Instruments Instruments equally important as vocals More emphasis on vocal music
    Ragas 6 major ragas 72 ragas
    Time Adheres to time Doesn’t adhere to any time
    Major Instruments used Tabla, Sarangi, Sitar and Santoor Veena, Mrindangum and Mandolin
    Association to Parts of India North India Usually, South India
    Commonality between the two Flute and Violin Flute and Violin


    At the present time there are many types of music prevalent in the Indian subcontinent that belongs to different categories. Some are closer to the classical bent and some are experimenting with the global music. Recently, there has been a trend to create a fusion of the classical heritage with newer musical strands like pop, jazz, etc. and this is garnering attention of the masse and classical music losing its popularity among the masses.

    Answer 2


    • Start your answer by giving a brief about Mohiniyattam Dance.
    • Discuss the features of the Mohiniyattam Dance.
    • Conclude suitably.


    Mohiniyattam or the Dance of an Enchantress (‘Mohini’ meaning beautiful woman and ‘attam’ means dance), is essentially a solo dance performance by women that was further developed by Vadivelu in the 19th century and gained prominence under the rulers of Travancore in the present state of Kerala. The patronage of Swathi Thirunal the Travancore ruler in 19th century is notable. After it had fallen to obscurity, the famous Malayali poet V. N. Menon revied it along with Kalyani Amma.


    Some of the features of the Mohiniyattam dance are as under:

    • Mohiniyattam combines the grace and elegance of Bharatnatyam with the vigour of Kathakali.
    • There is a marked absence of thumping of footsteps and the footwork is gentle.
    • Mohiniyattam generally narrates the story of the feminine dance of Vishnu.
    • It has its own Nritta and Nritya aspects like that of other classical dances.
    • The Lasya aspect (beauty, grace) of dance is dominant in a Mohiniyattam recital. Hence, it is mainly performed by female dancers.
    • The dance is accompanied by music and songs.
    • Costume is of special importance in Mohiniyattam, with white and off-white being the principal colours and the presence of gold coloured brocade designs. There is no elaborate facial makeup. The dancer wears a leather strap with bells (Ghungroo) on her ankles.
    • The element of air is symbolised through a Mohiniyattam performance.
    • ‘Atavakul or Atavus’ is the collection of fourty basic dance movements.
    • Musical instruments used are: cymbals, veena, drums, flute, etc.


    In Mohiniyattam, only females may dance. It is also milder than Kathakali, which is a more forceful dance. The movement is a great representation of female grace. The shringara tradition has notable images of divine love. The dance can now be performed in a group setting even though it was traditionally only performed by one person.

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