and Music in Reformation Period [Prof.K.Omanakutti]
of music and dance of Kerala can be divided into three periods. The period
preceding to Swathi Thirunal, the period of Swathi Thirunal and thirdly the
period succeeding to him.'Chilappathikaram' written in the second century
A.D by the younger brother of Cheran Chenkuttuvan of Chera Kingdom give glimpses
of the social, cultural and general features of life then apart, traces back
to theforms of dances and music. This great epic provide evidence that different
art forms of action and attendantmusic forms existed in Kerala from the second
century onwards. It can be deduced that 'Koothu' 'Koodiyattom','Mohiniyattom'
etc. which appeared in Kerala are successors of 'Abhinaya Koothu' found in
the 'Chilappathikaram'.Music giving accent to 'rasa', 'thala', 'bhava' and
'laya' were to be composed for these art forms.Most forms of music in early
Kerala were in the 'Sangha gana' style. Known as 'Pattus', they weredistinctly
differentiated as religious, semi-religious and non-religious. 'Bhagavathippatu',
'Theeyattu', 'Panapattu'''Kanniyarkali', 'Mudiyettu', when comes under 'Pattus'
of religious nature 'Sanghakkali' 'Koothu', 'Krishnanattom'etc. come under
semi religious 'Pattus'. 'Ezhamathi Purappade', 'Thullal', 'Kurathiyattom''
'Mohiniyattom','Kaikottikkali', 'Patakom', 'Kathakali', etc. are included
in the non-style is seen in 'Sasthrakali' which is aconfluence of music, literature
and dance. Drama, vocal and instrumental musics are interwoven in 'Koothu'and
'Koodiyattom'. Raga is not adhered in music in these. It resembles more of
Yejurveda recital of the Namboodiris. 'Geethagovindam' of Jayadevan of 12th
century had influenced the music and dance forms of Keralities to a great
extent. Melody of music and a simple and profuse rendering of vocabulary of
this great book are such that even today the same is included in the 'sopana'
music in important temples of Kerala and sung with the accompaniment of 'idakka'.
This has spread through the artistic media of music, dance, paintings and
sculptures. In Kerala it established itself in music form. This style is known
as 'sopana' style of music.The 'Krishna Geethi' written by King Manaveda (Kolla
Varsham 829) of Calicut was rendered in dramatic style.This is the 'Krishnanattom'
of Guruvayoor which has 'sopana' style of music. The music in 'Krishnanattom'
is simple and is sung in the 'ragas' mostly prevalent in Kerala. 'Sopana'
style found suited to the dance in Kathakali the same was adopted for the
rendering of Kathakali 'Padams'. The influence lately of Carnatic music in
the renderings of 'padams' and consequent adulteration of the earlier style
need special mention. It was during the eighteenth century that Kathakali
literature had made noted development, thanks to the great encouragement given
by the Maharajas Shri Karthika Thirunal and Shri Aswathi Thirunal. Those who
know thetechnical details of both music and dance only can compose Kathakali
literature. Shri Karthika Thirunal wasalso famous for his work 'Balarama Bharatam'
depicting science of dramatics. Kunchan Nambiar who adornedthe court of Dharmaraja
gifted a peculiar more lucid style of music and dance to Kerala through his
'Thullal'.The music, dance etc. of ancient period upto Swathi Thirunal can
be summed up as follows. The danceand music of earlier period of Kerala has
traversed through 'Koothu' and 'Koodiyattom' got associated with the'bhakthi'
sopana music which then hurriedly went through 'Krishnanattom' and reached
full blown in Kathakali.The middle period viz. Swathi period (1813-1846) can
be said as the golden period of music and danceof Kerala. The court of Swathi
was adorned by many an eminent artistes from all over India. Scholar of manylanguages
Swathi Thirunal was patron of dance and many important branches of music of
the country. Languagesand land boundaries were no problem for him for enriching
art. Thus in a way he paved the way for national integration more than any
ruler or artiste in India.
Kerala witnesses a strong flow of music parallel to 'sopana' music during
Swathi Thirunal's period. Tillthen, in Kerala, there was no music better than
'sopana' music. But Swathi has developed Carnatic musicparallel to sopana
music. Thus he was responsible for a peaceful revolution in Kerala's musical
field. Itfollowed a powerful flow of Carnatic music into Kerala. This had
resulted in a setback to the traditional styleof music in Kerala. Vocalists
and instrumentalists have slowly shifted to the Carnatic style of music in
Kerala.The inroads it had made into the Kathakali music is a clear example
of the great influence the Carnatic musicexercised in our musical field. The
growth of carnatic music was very rapid and unprecedented in Kerala. Itwas
Swathi Thirunal who brought Kerala in the forefront of South India in the
field of music. Chempai VaidyanathaBhagavathar, M.D.Ramanathan, Palghat K.P.Narayanaswami,
Violinist M.S.Gopalakrishnan, Veena exponentKoduvayoor K.S. Narayana Swami,
Mridanga expert Palghat Mony Iyer etc. are examples of this great
achievement.Swathi Thirunal had also greatly reformed the dance of Kerala
as he did in the case of music. His courtwas adorned by the great 'four';
Ponnaya, Chinnaya, Sivanandam and Vadivelu brothers who were exponents inboth
Carnatic music and Bharathanatyam. It was with the help of these four that
Swathi Thirunal has made
drastic changes in music and dance. Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam made
impossing guidance andinfluence on the artistes of Kerala during this period.Swathi
Thirunal has choreographed many poems for dance. His composition in 'Swarajathi',
'Padyavarnangal', 'Adathalangal'; 'Varnangal', 'Padangal', 'Krithikal', 'Thillannakal'
haveall been written to suitdance. His compositions, while most suited to
dance has also imbided the best traditions of indigenousmusic.Mention has
to be made on 'Mohiniyattom' while discussing dance forms of this time. The
period ofSwathi saw a reformation for 'Mohiniyattom' with 'padams' written
by this in 'manipravala'.The 'Kathakalakshepam' which was widely in vogue
in Maharashtra came to Kerala during Swathi Thirunal'stime through his courtier
Meruswami. When Meruswami staged two of Swathi's Sanskrit compositions'Kuchelopakhyanam'
and 'Ajamilopakhyanam' this art from got wide acceptance among the people.
With theintroduction of 'bhakti' themes 'Kathakalashepam' became widely popular
an art in the years that followed.Lucid and at the same time proud in ideas,
this art form aroused interest to both scholars and commonersalike. Devotional
themes together with supporting stories, music most befitting to each context,
combinationof instruments were the characteristc features of this art form.
Thus it can be seen that noted changes have taken place in the field of dance,
music etc. during the time of Swathi Thirunal.Mention, specially, has also
to be made of a great artiste who adorned the courts of three Maharajas.As
a great exponent of music particularly 'sopana' music Irayimman Thampi (1783-1856)
has attained a promi-nentplace in the cultural life of Kerala. Irayimman Thampi
has proved that Malayalam was also best suited forCarnatic music just as Telugu,
Kannada or Sanskrit. He was the only composer who gave equal importance toboth
'sopana' music and Carnatic music and enriched both. His compositions has
a human touch hitherto
uncommon that could penetrate deeply into the human mind. When his predecessors
gave a colour of 'bhakti'to their compositions Thampi indulged in the sorrows
andhappiness of human beings. Each of his composi-tionthus became an experience.
After Swathi ThirunalConstruction of super structure is not that difficult
once a strong base is built. It was a strong base thatSwathi Thirunal and
Irayimman Thampi had built. Kerala has made rapid strides in both music and
dance aftertheir period.Though Kathakali suffered a setback with the coming
of drama to Kerala it regained its fame thanks tothe efforts of great poet
Vallathol. It is heartening that there are ever so many cultural and art institutionssprang
up in our State to foster music, art, drama and dance forms. We can be proud
of having succeeded a
great tradition and all the more so in sustaining it in its pristine glory.
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