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Carnatic music (Sanskrit: Karna?aka sa?gita) is a system of music commonly associated with the southern part of the Indian subcontinent, with its area roughly confined to four modern states of India: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. It is one of two main sub-genres of Indian classical music that evolved from ancient Hindu traditions; the other sub-genre being Hindustani music, which emerged as a distinct form due to Persian and Islamic influences in North India. In contrast to Hindustani music, 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 gayaki (singing) style.



The tradition was born out of a cultural synthesis from several musical streams: the vedic chant tradition dating back to approximately one thousand BCE,[1] the equally ancient Persian tradition of Musiqi-e assil, and also existent folk traditions prevalent in the region. The terms North Indian Classical Music and Shastriya Sangeet are also occasionally used.

It is traditional for performers who have reached a distinguished level of achievement to be awarded titles of respect; Hindus are usually referred to as Pandit and Muslims as Ustad. An aspect of Hindustani music going back to sufi times is the tradition of religious neutrality: Muslim ustads singing Hindu bhajans, or vice versa.