The broad division of Indian music into Hindustani and Karnataka types that obtains at present amongst the writers on the subject is capable of further sub-division from the evolution view-point. The main stream of musical tradition that originated from Bharata underwent many changes with the changing years. New influences were brought to bear upon the two branches of the main stream, so that each acquired a characteristic peculiar to the cultural tradition of its part of the country. It is a long way from the classic purity and restrained beauty of Dhrupad to the imaginative intensity of the Thumri in the history of North Indian music, which was subjected to Arabian and Persian influences. But South India here as elsewhere stands to-day as the rigid custodian of more or less traditional forms. Not that there were absolutely no changes whatever, for music was always a “live” art and is still so in spite of the scant attention it receives from the so-called educated classes. No vital art can be static and so we find that certain changes and improvements were effected from time to time.
Karnataka culture in this as in other branches of its activities presents a synthesis of forms and symbols of apparently alien cultures. It reconciles the northern Samskrta tradition with the Dravidian forms of the far south. Modes indigenous to the country were assimilated into the scientifically evolved forms of the north in such a skillful way that it is usual to find in ordinary parlance an impression that mathematical rigidity of form characterises Karnataka music.