Music of Kerala

About Music of Kerala

Kerala's music is known as Sopanam. Sangeetam (Music) appears to have acquired its name from the 'Sopanam' which means 'Sanctum Sanctorum' of the temple. Its essential features were born out of a happy blending of the vedic, the folk and tribal music of the region.

The structure of the Sopanam music is believed to reflect the experience of the devotee in ascending the heights of devotion. Sopanam music developed and became popular through the practice of singing invocatory songs in front of the 'Kalam' of Kali meaning the floor drawing of Kali and later on at the sanctum of the temple.

There are a few powerful schools connected with the temples like Pazhoor, Tiumandhamkunnu, Guruvayoor, Ramamangalam. Neralattu Rama Poduval of Tirumandhamkunnu bani, Janardhanan Nedungadi of Guruvayoor, Damodara Marar belonging to the Mudiyettu bant of Pazhoor are some of the most effective experts.

The music system had rejuvenation when 'Geet Govindam' was introduced to Kerala in the local musical mould during the14th and 15th centuries A.D.  It was certainly a revival of the Pattu School of music which was preserved in the devotional tyanis.

The musician is inspired by the particular time, when the offering is made to the deity and he selects ragas which is most suited for that time. Such ragas are known as Samaya (time) ragas because time is the deciding factor in singing. The singing of tyanis takes its roots from the music of the earliest singers of the land as mentioned in the great text 'Chilappatikaram'.

Some of the rare melodies specially conceived for the purpose of embellishment of certain emotions are 'Pati', Indisa', 'Puraniru', 'Kanakurinji'.

There are certain ragas like 'Sri kandi', 'Desakshi', 'Nalatha' and 'Samantamalahari' used in old devotional songs which produce remarkably fascinating lilt and swing of a local character. The accompanying instruments include the edakka, the maddalam and the chenda.

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