The Trinity Of Carnatic Music

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Published on  |  Last Updated on August 13, 2023

The Trinity of Carnatic music refers to the three great composers from the South Indian classical music tradition who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries: Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar, and Syama Sastri. This musical triumvirate represents the height of the Carnatic music tradition. Classical artists frequently play their works in the present day. Although every composer had their own unique style, they were all very competent musicians . They can use a broad variety of ragas and talas in their compositions. Their music is easily recognizable by its enchanting melodies, sophisticated rhythms, and profound understanding of the sound of the human voice.

The Trinity of Carnatic music who lived and composed in Thanjavur were responsible for the knowledge of this great tradition. It describes how the tradition is passes down from one generation to the next, including us.! This blog post will look at some of the most famous compositions of the Trinity of Carnatic music. Moreover, it explores the unique features that make them so memorable.

Venkata Subramanian (Syama Sastry): The Trinity Of Carnatic Music

Venkata Subramanian (Syama Sastry) is one of the most famous composers of Carnatic music. He is one of the Trinity of Carnatic music. Syama Sastry was born in Thanjavur in 1762 and was a contemporary of Tyagaraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar. He composed over 800 songs, many of which are still popular today. 

Syama Sastry was born in the village of Tiruvarur. Syama Sastry’s music is characterized by beautiful melodies, intricate rhythms, and a deep understanding of the human voice. His compositions are an essential part of the Carnatic music repertoire.

What Makes Syama Sastry One Of The Trinity Of Carnatic Music ?

At his birth, his parents named him Venkata Subrahmanya. It was via Sangitha Swami and Pachimiriyam Adiyappayya that he could further his musical studies after they had begun with his relatives. The Swarajatis known as Ratnathrayam by Shastri are a series of three incomparable Swarajatis. In honour of Madhura’s Goddess Meenakshi, he composed the Navaratnamalika, a nine-Kriti strand of diamonds. Syama Sastry wrote most of his songs in Telugu, and many of them worship the Hindu deity Parvathi or the Hindu deity Ambal. The swarajathi was Syama Sastri’s most important contribution. He transformed them into music by putting them into a dancing form. His swarajatis include “Jagadodharana,” “Sarasijanabha,” “Dheerashankara,” and “Bhuvaneshwari.”

He also worked with less common ones like Manji and Chintamani. Syama Sastri’s layam or thalam contributions to Carnatic music are also notable. The Chapu thalam style was demonstrated and emphasized with Viloma influences. Syama Sastri’s “Sankari Samkaru (Saveri)” Kriti is another exceptional thala contribution. It is possible to sing this piece in Adi Talam or Rupaka Talam (Tisra Gati). To create magic in his music, he relied on his ability to master rhythm. It’s not uncommon for him to employ words like sarasamukhi, varamossagu, and so on that have a corresponding musical phrase.

He was a genius when it came to using swarakshara, a technique in which the notes and the words share the same syllable. His most notable contribution to Carnatic music was his ability to illustrate and highlight the Viloma style of Chapu thalam. During his last days, Syama Sastri is in a state of religious ecstasy and composed some of his best music during this time. He died in 1827 at the age of 65.

Muthuswamy Dikshitar

Muthuswamy Dikshitar is one of the most renowned composers of Carnatic music, often referred to as the “trinity” of Carnatic music. On March 24, 1776, Muthuswami Dikshitar was born into a brahmin family in Tiruvarur, Tamil Nadu. Ramaswami Dikshitar’s father was a Vedic scholar who also instructed him in poetry, music, and astrology. His father, Ramaswamy Dikshitar, was a Sanskrit scholar, and his mother, Subbammal, was a veena player. Dikshitar’s musical talent was evident from an early age; he composed his first song when he was eight. Muthuswami had two brothers, Chinnaswami and Balaswami, and a sister, Balamba.

Muthuswami learned about the Dhrupad style of composing and Hindustani classical music in Benares when he was a student of Chidambaranatha Yogi. Dikshitar returned to South India after his teacher’s death and resided in Tiruttani, a small town near Tirupati. The Venkatamakhin raga system significantly impacted Hindustani classical music through his various compositions. In response to a request from a local landowner in the village of Manali, Muthuswami relocated to the city of Madras (now Chennai). He first heard orchestral music from the West and picked up the violin there. A teacher named Chidambaranatha Yogi took Muthuswami under his wing and transferred him to the city of Benares (now Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh). There were classes in yoga, literature, esoterics, and music. His later compositions are influenced by Indian classical music, particularly the Dhrupad style. Drikshitar returned from Benares to Tiruttani after the death of Chidamabaranatha Yogi.

What Makes Muthuswamy Dikshitar One Of The Trinity Of Carnatic Music ?

Dikshitar’s compositional style is unique, and his works are characterized by intricate melodic phrases, beautiful lyrics, and a deep understanding of Carnatic ragas. He is also known for his innovative use of Western musical concepts in his compositions. A pupil of the great Carnatic composer Tyagaraja, Dikshitar travelled widely throughout India, absorbing the diverse musical traditions of the country. He is credited with popularizing Carnatic music in north India, and his compositions are known for their sophisticated classical ragas and beautiful lyrics. Among his most famous compositions are the Navagraha kritis, dedicated to the nine planets, and the Kamakshi Amba Kriti, which is said to have brought him great success and fame.

In the Tiruttani Lord Muruga’s shrine, Dikshitar wrote his first song, Srinathadi Guruguho Jayati Jayati (Mayamalavagowla). Several ‘Sthala’ kritis, or compositions honouring the God or Goddess of a holy town, were penned by Dikshitar, like those of Thyagaraja. He has written parables for the deities of Ekambaranathar in Kancheepuram, Shiva in Vaitheeswaran Koil, and Meenakshi in Madurai. He also wrote kritis in honour of Lord Shiva and the five elements he symbolized. It’s no surprise that Dikshitar composed so many pieces on the Goddess in Sanskrit and Kriti, a sort of poetry put to music.

Carnatic music has seven basic talas, and he was the only composer to master all seven. In his asampurna mela plan, he composed in all 72 melakartha ragas. The Navagraha Kirtanas and the Navavarna Kirtanas are two of his most well-known pieces for large ensembles. Muthuswamy Dikshitar is considered one of the greatest Carnatic composers of all time.

Dikshitar died at the age of 59, on October 21, 1835, in Chennai. His music continues to be popular among Carnatic music lovers today, and leading musicians regularly perform his compositions.

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Kakarla Tyagabrahmam (Saint Thyagaraja)

Kakarla Tyagabrahmam (Saint Thyagaraja) was born in 1767 in Tiruvarur, and Tyagaraja composed hundreds of devotional songs called kritis, commonly sung in Carnatic concerts even today. One of the most influential figures in the history of Carnatic music, composer Thyagaraja is one of the “trinity” of Carnatic music. His musical approach is unique, defined by clever melodic passages and lovely lyrical content. In addition to this, he is well-known for the original ways that he applies Western musical principles in his pieces.

Composer Thyagaraja Swami was a significant figure in the development of Carnatic music. He wrote many notable works, including the Pancharathanas, five gems in the ragas Nattai, Gowlai, Aarabhi, Varali, and Sri. He also wrote two dance dramas, Divyanama Kritis and Utsawampara Dayanam. Thyagaraja Swami was the first to write songs that dealt with human beings and their issues, as well as society’s evils and the subsequent belief in erroneous values.

What Makes Kakarla Tyagabrahmam (Saint Thyagaraja) One Of The Trinity Of Carnatic Music ?

Sri Thyagaraja Swami is one of the greatest composers of all time. Sonti Venkataramana taught him music after being born to Ramabrahmam and Seetamma. Most of the 24,000 songs he composed were in his native Telugu, but he also wrote a few in Sanskrit. His most notable contribution to the Kriti format is the Sangati, a sequence of variants on a theme. At one point in his career, Thyagaraja Swami saw music solely as a tool for achieving union with God and turned down the opportunity to become the king’s court singer. He achieved complete mastery over 72 melakarta ragas, and his music continues to be popular among Carnatic music lovers today.

Tyagaraja Swami’s most famous composition is the Pancharathna Kriti in the raga Natabhairavi. This composition exemplifies his use of the Sangati and is a highly popular work in Carnatic music. His other notable works include the Divyanama Kritis, a set of 10 kritis dedicated to various Hindu deities, and the Utsawampara Dayanam, a dance drama in praise of Lord Krishna. He died in 1847. A music festival is held in his honour every year in January. His compositions continue to be popular among Carnatic music lovers today.


In conclusion, the contributions of Dikshitar, Thyagaraja Swami, and other notable Carnatic composers have had a significant impact on the development of Carnatic music. Musicians around the world continue to play their works, and their legacy is famous. Carnatic music is a rich and complex tradition. These composers have helped shape it into the art form it is today. Thank you for your time. I hope you have enjoyed learning about these important figures in Carnatic music history. For beginning or upgrading your musical journey, we recommend enrolling in a reputable online course Carnatic music classes with a reputable and experienced teacher.

You may also want to know know about the father of carnatic music if you want to know more about carnatic music.

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