Music in Kathakali

Miscellaneous topics on Carnatic music
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#1 Music in Kathakali

Post by Sivaramakrishnan »

I attended the first day of the recently concluded 5-day Kathakali festival (2018) at Kalakshetra, Chennai which was inaugurated on 17 Sep by Mridangam Vidwan Sri Umayalpuram Sivaraman at a well attended ceremony.

The play was 'Nalacharitam Onnaam divasam' with the living legend Kalamandalam Gopi as King Nala. As always, apart from enactment of the celebrated story by seasoned artists, it was the great music that impressed me a lot.
Pathiyoor Sankarankutty and Kalamandalam Vinod on the vocals just wove myriad patterns for ragas such as Mukhari, Kalyani etc. The padam in Kalyani extended for more than 45 minutes and that was something to relish forever. The beauty of Kathakali padams (sahitya) is that they are mostly sung in Vilambakaala to provide ample scope for abhinaya. Kathakali music which has its roots in Carnatic idiom is unique in preserving the basics though minor innovations in the form of including 'newer ragas' (like Sivaranjani or Desh) could be seen.
The festival ended on 21 Sep.

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#2 Re: Music in Kathakali

Post by thanjavooran »

Thanks for the review. Padam, sahithyam and delinition of Raga will be very pleasing and enjoyable but for the noisy music including charana gosham as commented by Siva sankara menon years back in shasti hall (in their place)

Nick H
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#3 Re: Music in Kathakali

Post by Nick H »

I was there too.

I do not have the patience for the speed (haha!) At which Kathakali dance unfolds, ie, in one long evening we established two things: thatt a king and a woman are dreaming about each other, and that a swan is their go-between. I think that took over three hours and was the first of four evenings devoted to the story of the romance.

Well, as I realised a long time back, I'm a music person, not a dance person. I do find the Kathakali music has a special haunting quality and a special beauty. They were both very much evident that evening, in both the singing and the percussion.

It was a Kathakali first for my wife. I doubt that she will particularly want a second. It was a third or fourth for me, although probably the least diluted/compressed. I have never been to a full night temple performance. One day I will.

Hamsa was the star of the dance.

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