Dance and Music in Reformation Period

The history 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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