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While any two systems of music are going to be distinctive from one another, one of the most important facets of Melharmonic philosophy is that often, even seemingly disparate systems have more similarities than what may be imagined.  If composers, musicians and listeners can explore and enjoy the beauty of the similarities as a starting point, the distinctions between systems not only be often surmountable but will seem exciting and colourful.


Obvious similarities between most systems are:

  • 7-note, 12-tone system within an octave
  • Certain fundamental rhythms


Examples of non obvious similarities between say Western and (South Indian) Carnatic are:

  • Strong theory and attractive performance traditions
  • Classical composers who created sophisticated musical forms of diverse types (many of who happened to be contemporaries such as Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi (1700-65) & J S Bach, Tyagaraja (1767-1847) & Mozart, Muttuswami Dikshitar (1775-1835) & Beethoven
  • Importance given to projecting compositions in concerts
  • Theoretical concepts such as comma intervals, tempo, speed
  • Similarities in notating speed changes (beams/underlines to connect groups of notes beyond a particular speed)


Certain vital differences between the above systems include:

  • Carnatic is melodic, Western is harmony-centric
  • Carnatic uses just-intonation whereas Western has shifted to equal-tempered tuning (resulting in minute changes in pitch values of various notes)
  • Carnatic repertoire is essentially vocal-centric which are also interpreted by various instrumentalists
  • Most Carnatic concerts are solo-centric with accompaniments
  • Carnatic concerts typically have a 50-50 mix of compositions and improvisation
  • Carnatic notation generally leaves tempo, dynamics, expressions, articulations to individual performers (as opposed to Western where these are marked)