Kathakali Sangeetham

The musicians numbering minimum four and maximum 12 go into their job bare-chested and standing behind the actors in half circle format.

The play is in the form of verses that are metered and lyrical, sung by vocalists whose voice has been trained to various melodies (raga), music and synchronized with the dance-acting on the stage. The vocalists not only deliver the lines, but help set the context and express the inner state of the character by modulating their voice. For example, anger is expressed by the use of sharp high voice and pleading is expressed by the use of a tired tone.

Music plays cardinal role in Kathakali performance. The up-beat music electrifies the moods of the performer to display with defined and refined foot steps and triggers emotions resonant with the nature of the scene, the rhythm to which the actor-dancers perform the choreography and scenes.

Some major musical patterns that go with the moods and content of the scene are: Chempata (most common and default that applies to a range of moods, in battles and fights between good and evil, also to conclude a scene); Champa music (depict tension, dispute, disagreement between lovers or competing ideas); Panchari (for odious, preparatory such as sharpening a sword); Triputa (thought provoking, scenes involving sages and teachers); Adanta (scenes involving kings or divine beings); Muri Adanta musical style (for comic, light hearted, or fast moving scenes involving heroic or anger-driven activity).

The vocal form for the Kathakali is known as Sopaanam, which generally two singers perform. The main singer is called “Ponnani” and the support is called “Shinkidi”. This traditional dance form can be seen during several cultural festivals or occasions. Voicing the rich cultural and traditional heritage of Kerala.

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