Nadasurabhi Cultural Association located in Koramangala, Bangalore is in the forefront of promoting Classical Carnatic Music. Nadasurabhi conducts the highest quality music concerts every month and a week-long Annual Festival in November, free of charge to all rasikas. Our other events include a youth festival, Thyagaraja and Purandaradasa Aradhana, and music competitions for children.

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Carnatic Music in Tamil Literature - Page 2

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Carnatic Music in Tamil Literature
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Silappathikaaram gives fascinating accounts of the details of the musical systems in Aycchiyar Kuravai  Kuravaik koothu ,mullait theempaani (presently known as Mohanam).

Sruti Bedham or Griha Bedham: Interesting details are also given as to how one raagam can generate other raagams by a process of shift in the modulation of the tonic . Thus the thuttham of the raagam mullaittheempaani  would yield madyamaavathi , the kaikkilai would yield hindolam, ili would give suddhasaaveri  and thaaram would yield udayaravichandrika .

The discussion into musical system prevalent in the SilappathikAram period was necessary to emphasize the depth and originality of Tamil authors in the field of music and dance almost 1500 years ago. In these days of narrow specialization, the holistic approach to literature adopted by Ilango Adigal and others is incredible indeed.

The Bakthi Period: There was a powerful religious renaissance by Hindu Saints and poets between the 5th and 11th Centuries AD*. This was to counteract the predominance acquired by Buddhism and Jainism during the previous century. This Bakthi movement was spearheaded by great literary work by 63 Saivaite saints called Nayanmaars and 12 Vaishnavaite saints called Azhwaars. The works of the former were compiled in the 11th Century* as 12 Thirumurais and that of the latter were compiled in the 9th Century* as Naalayira Divya Prabandam (4000 hymns). This is a body of great devotional literature and the medium of expression was through music and dance. The poems composed by these Hindu saints were carried to the masses with the help of easy musical tunes by singers who were called Paanars (those who were proficient in Pann-Raga) and Oduvaars (those who could recite the musical devotional poems). Even to this day the Oduvaars carry on the tradition of singing the compositions like Thevaaram and Thiruvaachakam in temples. In today’s concert stage too, these compositions find an important place. It is worth noting that  Ariyakudi Sri Ramanuja Iyengar , who systematized the concert format, sang at least one Thiruppavai song in every concert. This  is a composition of Aandaal , one of the Aalwaars.

The other important landmark in the history of Tamil literature is the epic –Kamba Ramayanam dated 9th Century AD*. This is primarily a very large literary work and its devotional content is only incidental. As it was planned to be a “perunkappiyam” (large literary work), the poems shine with different colours and emotional content (navarasam) at different stages. It gives great opportunity to musicians to use the songs in this story, to express emotions like chivalry, sadness, anger, humour, etc., in musical form.

Arunagirinathar who lived in the 15th Century AD, composed more than 1000 songs on Lord Subramanya, which is called Thiruppugazh. This work, besides its devotional and literary value, is greatly significant due to its musical content. The songs cover all the 108 taala-s(rhythmic beats), as per the carnatic tradition. These songs are widely sung in concert stages (although the taala is generally simplified) and they add a special status and flavour to Carnatic music.

Mahaakavi Subramania Bharathi who lived till the early 20th Century has composed several patriotic and devotional songs in simple Tamil, but still fully conforming to the complex Grammar rules of the language. Most of the songs have now been set to music and are being sung in carnatic concerts.



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