Sugama Sangeetha

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Origin and development[edit]

It is unclear when exactly Bhavageethe started but in 1920's and 30's there were many attempts to set tunes to poetry. By the 1950s it started taking a good shape and a highly talented musician - P. Kalinga Rao was instrumental in spreading this art form.[1] [2] He set tunes to the poems of many famous Navodaya poets, and gave performances on All India Radio as well as public gatherings.[3][4] The art form started gaining popularity through his rendering of Udayavaagali Namma Cheluvu Kannada Naadu, Yaaru Hitavaru Ninage,Anathadim Digantadim,Baarayya Beladingale, Brahma Ninge Jodistheeni etc.,[3] He laid the foundation of Sugama Sangeetha and hence is considered to be the father of this form.

The 60s and 70s saw lot of emerging musicians contributing to this field. H.R.Leelavathi, Padmacharan, H. K. Narayana in South Karnataka and Balappa Hukkeri in North Karnataka played a significant role in popularising the art across Karnataka. Their service to the field through lot of compositions also is commendable.

The next major personality in the field was the unparalleled Mysore Ananthaswamy. Till then, though there were a lot of compositions, they remained as more or less a subset of classical music from the musical perspective. It was Ananthaswamy who could think out of the box. He not only crossed the barrier of classical music, but was instrumental in adding its own subtleties to Bhaavageethe. With instrumentation also taking different shape by that time, he introduced lot of changes to Orchestration. By that time, Bhavageethe was quite popular and businessmen dared bringing out cassettes of the same. With that, 'Nithyotsava' became the first Bhavageethe Album to be released. There were a lot of popular albums to his credit. 'Nithyotsava', 'Bhava Sangama', 'Minchu', 'Rathnana Padagalu' to mention a few.

Another young and dynamic talent emerged in the 70s - C. Aswath. Highly talented and a great visionary was Aswath, that, his way of blending the lyrical and musical dynamics was hard to match. His unique way of rendering a song, with emphasis on lyrical dynamics and word power was amazing. He also bought about lot of changes to the art. Dramatic elements, virtual picturization etc., could be observed in abundance in his compositions. He was instrumental in making Shishunala Sharif's poems popular across the length and breadth of Karnataka. His popular albums are 'Mysooru Mallige', 'Shishunala Sharif Sahebara Geethegalu', 'Chaitra', 'Kannadave Satya' etc.,

P.Kalinga Rao, Mysore Ananthaswamy and C.Aswath are considered to be the trinity of Sugama Sangeetha. The mid 70s to mid 90s probably the golden age since, in this period,

  • The art form had matured enough to be considered an independent genre
  • It started adding its own theories through lot of experiments.
  • In the majority of this period, the major exponents Ananthaswamy and Aswath were at the peak of their careers
  • Commercialisation due to increasing popularity and subsequent dilution of the art had not started.

Notable Contributors[edit]

A lot of musicians have been successful in popularising Sugama Sangeetha through their compositions or singing. Following is the summary.


P.Kalinga Rao, Mysore Ananthaswamy, C.Aswath, H. K. Narayana, Padmacharan, H.R.Leelavathi, Baalappa Hukkeri, Raju Ananthaswamy, N.S.Prasad, B.K.Chandrashekar, B.V.Srinivas, Sunitha Ananthaswamy, Jayashree Arvind, Praveen D Rao, Pravin Godkhindi, M.D.Pallavi, Archana Udupa,chidambara kalamanji, Upasana Mohan,vasantha kanakapur, Gartikere Raganna, Manjula Gururaj


P.Kalinga Rao, Mysore Ananthaswamy, C.Aswath, Baalappa Hukkeri, Bhimsen Joshi, Sulochana, Rathnamala Prakash, Manjula Gururaj, M.K.Jayashree, H. K. Narayana, Shimoga Subbanna, B.K.Sumitra, Kasturi Shankar, Raju Ananthaswamy, B.R. Chaya, Sunitha Ananthaswamy, Yashwanth Halibandi, Nagara Srinivasa Udupa, Sangeetha Katti, M.D.Pallavi, Archana Udupa, Puttur Narasimha Nayak, Rajkumar, S.Janaki, S.P.Balasubramaniam, Anitha Ananthaswamy


N.S.Prasad, S.P.Venkatesh, L.Vaidyanathan, N.S.Murali, Praveen D Rao, Pravin Godkhindi, Anooru Anathakrishna Sharma, Bali


N.S.Prasad (Mandolin), Praveen Duth Stephen (Keyboard), Saadhu Kokila (Keyboard), Shabbir Ahmed (Keyboard), Krishna Udupa (Keyboard), Bali (Rhythmic Instruments), Venugopal Raju (Tabla), Praveen D Rao (Tabla and Harmonium), Srinivas Achar (Classical and 12 string Guitar), Arun Kumar (Rhythmic Instruments), Pramath Kiran (Rhythmic Instruments), N.S.Murali (Flute), Pravin Godkhindi (Flute), B.K.Chandrashekar (Violin)

Current situation and future of Sugama Sangeetha[edit]

Post Ananthaswamy and Aswath era (2000s), there are very few notable and dedicated contributors to the field. Though there were some exceptions like 'Kannadave Satya' event, Sugama Sangeetha could not get a wide base of audience. Another reason could be, the dip in standard of Kannada poetry at the same time. Even today, a full-fledged Sugama Sangeetha concert without the compositions of Kalinga Rao, Mysore Ananthaswamy and C.Aswath is hard to imagine.

Karnataka Sugama Sangeetha Pariashath's 11th annual Sugama Sangeeth conference "Geethotsava – 2014" in Bangalore, on 7–9 February on National College ground, Basavanagudi Bangalore.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kalinga Rao remembered". Karnataka: The Hindu. 4 January 2009. Retrieved 16 December 2013.
  2. ^ "Kalinga Rao: Nightingale of Karnataka". Karnataka: OurKarnataka.Com,Inc. 4 January 2009. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Down memory lane with Kalinga Rao". India: The Hindu. 4 April 2004. Retrieved 16 December 2013.
  4. ^ Kumar Das, Sisir (2011). History of Indian Literature: 1911-1956, struggle for freedom : triumph and tragedy. Sahitya Akademi. p. 25. ISBN 9788172017989.