Music is a universal art apt to transcend national boundaries. Karnataka can be proud of its contribution to Indian music. Gopala Nayaka traveled all the way from the south to become the court musician of Allauddin Khilji (1295-1315) in the north. He cultivated the friendship of the Persian musicologist, Amir Khusrau. Their discussion led to the development of new Ragas. These were incorporated in the treatise on music by a South Indian composer of the 16th century-Pundarika Vittala. The intermingling of the two cultures gave rise to the two modes of singing-Uttaradi and Dakshinadi or Hindustani and Karnatic.
Karnatic music has a deeper understanding of ‘notal’ values and their inter-relations. This relation is established by Gamaka. Thus, taste for Karnatic music has to be cultivated. Tyagaraja is the most popular among the composers of Karnatic music. The music compositions, ‘Tyagaraja Gana’, ‘Valmikiya Kavana’ and ‘Agumbeya Astamaya’ are said to be unique for enrapturing the human heart. Tyagaraja has very respectfully mentioned Sri Purandara Dasa as one of the great composers of Karnatic music.
The credit for starting the Dasa-Kuta system goes to Sripadaraya Swamy of Mulabagal. He popularised Kannada songs all over the country as far as Maharashtra or Greater Karnataka. It is said that Gnaneswar has incorporated three Kannada songs. This system was continued by Sri Vyasaraya Swamy of Sosale. Purandara Dasa’s compositions mark the crowning glory of this system. He composed four lakh and twenty-five Kirtanas, besides hundreds of peculiarly Kannada modes of songs known as Uga-bhoga and Suladi. The tradition so gloriously established by him is being continued to this day by his admirers and disciples.
Karnataka has the unique distinction of being able to produce an unbroken succession of both composers and exponents. Kannada Musicians like Basavaraj Rajaguru, Mallikarjuna Mansur, Bhimsen Joshi, Hanagal Gangubai, etc have won an all-India reputation.