Music of Tamil Nadu

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Music of Tamil Nadu has a long tradition and history going back thousands of years. Music is a very important aspect of the culture of the Tamil people.

"Tamil musical troop"

Ancient music[edit]

Main article: Ancient Tamil music

The tradition of Tamil music goes back to the earliest period of Tamil history. Many poems of the Sangam literature, the classical Tamil literature of the early common era, were set to music. There are various references to this ancient musical tradition found in the ancient Sangam books such as Ettuthokai and Pattupattu. The early narrative poem Cilappatikaram, belonging to the post-Sangam period also mentions various forms of music practiced by the Tamil people. Music was also utilised in the compositions of the Tamil Saiva saints such as Appar, Thirugnana Sambanthar and Manikkavasagar during the Hindu revival period between the sixth and the tenth centuries CE. The musical poet (sandakkavi) Arunagirinathar further embellished the Tamil musical tradition through his compositions of Tamil hymns known as Thiruppugazh.

Carnatic music[edit]

Main article: Carnatic music

Carnatic music, which is the classical music form of Southern India, has a long history in Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu has produced a number of famous performers, as well as a closely related classical dance form Bharatha Natyam. Chennai hosts a large cultural event, the annual Madras Music Season, which includes performances by hundreds of artists.

There are 72 basic scales on the octave, and a rich variety of melodic motion. Both melodic and rhythmic structures are varied and compelling. This is one of the world's oldest and richest musical traditions.[1] Songs have been composed by great artists and handed down through generations of disciples.

The composers belonging to the Tamil Trinity of Muthu Thandavar (1560 - 1640 CE), Arunachala Kavi (1712–1779) and Marimutthu Pillai (1717–1787) composed hundreds of devotional songs in Tamil and helped in the evolution of Carnatic music. Three saint composers of the 18th to 19th Century, Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Shyama Shastri, have composed thousands of songs that remain favourites among musicians and audiences. Today, Tamil Nadu has hundreds of notable carnatic singers who spread this music all over the world. M. S. Subbulakshmi, a renowned carnatic singer, had the honour of singing a song in the UN Security Council.

Folk music[edit]

Ekkalam, A traditional wind instrument of Tamil Nadu


1-urumi melam.jpg



Folk singing remains popular, especially in rural areas; elements of the traditional styles are sometimes used in film music. There are contemporary enthusiasts, like Vijayalakshmi Navaneethakrishnan and Pushpavanam Kuppuswamy, who have worked to revive popular interest in the folk music of Tamil Nadu. The urumee mellam also remains as one of the more popular forms of folk music in rural Tamil Nadu and the ensemble is most often played with an urumee and the nadaswaram as the instrument of choice.

The rural hill tribes of Tamil Nadu each have their own folk traditions. The Pulayar, for example, perform melodies called talams which are said to come from the cooing of birds. Each talam is named after a deity, including Kunhanada talam, Mangalanada talam and Karaganachi talam.

Film music[edit]

AR Rahman at his Madras residence after bagging two Academy Awards for his work in Slumdog Millionaire

Tamil Cinema is well known for its talented composers. Two of the most famous and acclaimed film composers of India, A. R. Rahman and Ilaiyaraaja are from Tamil Nadu. Other prominent Tamil film score and soundtrack composers in the industry include Harris Jayaraj, Yuvan Shankar Raja, Vidyasagar Anirudh Ravichander During the 1960s and 1970s, prominent film composers K. V. Mahadevan, M. S. Viswanathan and others were popular.

The film music of Tamil Nadu is widely known for its innovation and eclecticism. Scores may showcase blends of Carnatic, Western and other instruments, with a range of melodic and rhythmic patterns. Orchestral themes and minimalist songs often feature. Recent trends show the prevalence of synthesizers and other electronic instruments.

Tamil Christian keerthanai[edit]

Tamil Christian Keerthanai (Keerthanai meaning Songs of Praise) are devotional Christian lyrics in Tamil.

A century ago, this term would have immediately conjured up the names of four lyricists who formed the group of Tamil Christian poets: Vedanayagam Sastriar of Tanjore, Rev.V.Santiago [Vathlagundu],Krishnapillai of Palyamkottai, and N. Samuel of Tranquebar.

These are mostly a collection of indigenous hymns written by Protestant Tamil Christian poets.A few of them are translations of Christian hymns from other languages. However, these are some of the original lyrics composed and written by Rev.V.Santiago, which include, Dhasare Itharanyil Anbai, Vindai Kristhu Yesu Raja, Devane Naan Umma Dhandayil, Varavenum Paranaviya,Yen Ullam Kavarum, Yesu Naan Nirkum Kanmalaye, Thanden Yennai Yesuve, Aramai Yura Nee Irangi, Nithum Muyal Maname, Arumai Ratchaga Kudi Vandhom and Yesuve Thiruchabai Alaiyathin. These are popularly sung Keerthanais in Tamil Churches the world over. The Rev.V.Santiago was also one of the pioneering Church leaders in the formation of the Church of South India. He was the first Indian Moderator, according to Sherwood Eddy, the associate of Rev.V.Santiago. Rev. V.Santiago was the President of the South India United Church [SIUC] and the joint signatory along with Bishop.V.S. Azariah in the landmark Tranquebar Manifesto that brought Anglicans into the Church Union Movement.


These hymns were written in the early stages of Protestant Christianity in India. These hymns are widely used in worship services by the Tamil Churches belonging to the "main-line" or traditional denominations. Some of the more popular hymns include "Mangalam Selikka" (used during wedding celebrations) and "Ellam Yesuve".

References[edit]

  1. ^ "History of Music, Origins". The Carnatica Group. Carnatica.net. Retrieved 2007-07-03. 

External links[edit]