Odissi Music:

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CATEGORIES | PRESENT FORM | COMPOSITION | MELARAGAS
CHARACTERISTIC FEATURES

The systematised and developed form of music which has been sung in the world famous temple of the Lord Jagannath at the sacred Puri-Dhama in its different festive occasions as a part of the temple services, and cultured in the ‘Jaga-Akhadas’ of Puri and 16 Sasanas, 36 Karavada (Brahmin villages) as well as other rural areas in the district, is known as Traditional Odissi Music. This tradition is also having a long and glorious history of its own for more then 2500 years. It is performed deftly in the shape of Raga-Ksydrageeta-Prabandha-Gana a form of Indian classical music by the illustrious and celebrated poet Sri Jayadeva in Orissa.

Like Hindustani and Carnatic systems, Odissi music is a separate system of Indian classical music and is having all the essential as well as potential ingredients of Indian Classical form. But it has not come to limelight due to apathy from the time of British rule in Orissa, want of its proper study, revival, propagation, etc. Despite the fact, the traditional music form could be saved and maintained in its pristine form. Thanks to the musicians particularly of Jaga Akhadas of Puri district, who could develop and maintain the music. The music movement of Orissa, however, took a different turn after independence.

Like other aspects of her culture, music of the sacred land (Orissa) is charming, colourful, variegated encompassing various types. The existing musical tradition of Orissa, the cumulative experience of the last two thousand five hundred years if not more, can broadly be grouped under five categories such as : (1) Tribal Music, (2) Folk Music, (3) Light Music, (4) Light-Classical Music, (5) Classical Music, which need a short elucidations for better understanding the subject in all India context.

The tribal music as the title signifies is confined to the tribals living mainly in the hilly and jungle regions and sparsely in the coastal belt of Orissa. It is interesting to note that Orissa has the third largest concentration of tribes constituting about one fourth of the total population. They are distributed over 62 tribal communities.

Orissa is the treasure house of Folk Songs which are sung on different festivals and specific occasions in their own enjoyment. Folk music in general is the expression of the ethos and mores of the folk communities. Of the bewildering variety of folk music of Orissa, mention may be made of Geeta, Balipuja Geeta, Kela Keluni Geeta, Dalkhai Geeta, Kendra Geeta, Jaiphula Geeta, Ghumura Geeta, Ghoda Nacha and Danda Nacha Geeta, Gopal Ugala and Osa-Parva-Geeta etc.

Bhajan, Janan, Oriya songs based on ragas, Rangila Chaupadi etc. are grouped under Light classical music, which forms an important segment of Orissan music. Sri Geetagovinda, Anirjukta Pravadha, Divya Manusi Prabandha, Chautisa, Chhanda, Chaupadi (now known as Odissi), Champu, Malasri, Sariman, Vyanjani, Chaturang, Tribhang, Kuduka Geeta, Laxana and Swaramalika are the various sub-forms, which individually or collectively constitute the traditional Odissi music. These sub-forms of the traditional Odissi music, can be categorised under the classical music of Orissa.

Music by nature is illusive and changeable. So far as Indian classical music is concerned, it has from its inception assumed the following changing forms such as: (i) Vedic-music (Sama Gana), (ii) Gandharva Gana (iii) Jati-Gana, (iv) Raga-Pravandha-Gana, (v) Raga-Sangeeta or classical music.

The present form of traditional Odissi music is no doubt the out-come of the continuous evolution of the earliest Indian classical music. Orissa could imbibe all the waves of classical music beginning from Sama-Gana to Raga prabandha Gana, but finally it assumed the present form of "Ragaksyudra-Geeta-Pravandha-Gana". This system is popularly styled as traditional Odissi music.

Since, there is the dearth of recorded evidence to prove the exact time of the advent of the earliest form of the Indian Classical Music into this land, we may reasonably believe its inflow during the period of Aryanisation of this land. Possibly Aryan culture crept into this land during the Age of Brahmans when bulk of Indian peninsula came under the Aryan influence.

The Sovaneswara inscription and the Brahmeswara inscription and also the inscription from Madhukeswar temple reveal that dance and music was introduced in the temples as a part of daily rituals. Music tinged with religion, attained mass appeal and royal patronage. As such the royal patronization of Art and Culture made the Orissan music so developed and enchanting for enjoyment of both Gods and Goddesses and human beings as well. This tradition still continuous in its different manifestations.

The Odissi Sangita (music) was composed following the styles (Riti) of four classes of music like Dhrubapada, Chitrapada, Chitrakala and Panchali:
The Dhrupada or Ghosha (The first line or lines to be cited repeatedly) has importance in Odissi music. The use of art in music is called Chitrakala. Its use in Odissi seems very prominent and "Badhila jani kshama kara nohile Rama" etc. of Kavisurya is the beautiful example of this style. Chitrapada means the arrangement of words. Generally, Odissi music is highly ornamented with "Yamaka" like "Shrimati Shripati Brundabane keli rachile; Brundabana shobhataru tarutale Kalpataru taruni ratana taru taralakshi matile" etc. Panchali means multi-lined lyric (Bahupadayukta gita). It is divided into two types - Adhruva and Sadhruva. In Sadhruva Panchali there is a Ghosha. Odissi Choupadis (Quadrants) are the best examples of Sadhruva Panchali. Choutisha belongs to the category of Adhruva Panchali. After all Chhanda (rhetoric section) is the originality of Odissi music. Chhandas are included in Adhruva Panchali. It is deceptive to trace the origin of Chhanda from the word Skandha. Practically, it is derived from the Sanskrit word "Chhadha". A large number of Chhandas are composed in accordance with the Sanskrit Brutta, "Pancha Chamara". The "Chokhi" is formed by the introduction of tune (Swara) and rhythm (Tala) into the letters of the Sanskrit Chhanda, like "Chinta Bhairavi". Quite a large number of Chhandas were composed with theme (Bhava), time (Kala) and tune (Swara). It is another unique and special aspect of Chhanda. Chinta Bhairava is used in context of a dream sequence of Ravana in "Vaidehisha Vilasha". Ravana dreamt at dawn that Ramachandra had detected imprisoned Sita in Ashoka-Vana for which he was going to Ashoka-Vana in thoughtful and pensive mood. The Chhanda, narrating this enchanting dream, is composed in the Bhairava Raga. Both the tunes, Rushabha and Dhaivata, have a soft and melodious use in this Raga. Reflecting the thoughtfulness of Ravana, the Chhanda is directed to be sung in Chinta Bhairava.

The Choutisha Section represents the originality of Odissi. Using all the thirty-four letters from "ka" to "Ksha" at the beginning of each line (Pada) the Choutisha is completed in thirty-four lines as "Mahabodha Choutisha".

In Odissi, the words used in Drutatala (speedy rhythm) are called "Padi". Its use is the special feature of Odissi. Use of  "Navatala" (Nine rhythms) is famous in Odissi music. Besides, Dashatala (Ten rhythms) and Egaratala (Eleven rhythms) etc. are used in the music of Orissa as "Kuduka" and "Upadu". "Jhula", commonly known in Orissa as the "Traimatrikatala" (Three-lettered rhythm) is used as a speedy tala. So also speedy "Chaturmatrikatala" is known as "Pahapatta".

According to tuning the "Melaragas" were composed and their names are completely different from the Ragas of "Hindustani" and "Carnatac" music. The names are (1)Kalyana (2)Nata (3)Shriraga (4)Gouree (5)Varadi (6)Panchama (7)Dhanshri (8)Karnata (9)Bhairavee and (10)Shokavaradi.

The centres for physical education and music were called "Jagas". In all the festivals the members of a "Jaga" arrange feasts. "Hazura", the chief member of the "Jaga" arranges the competitions of gymnasiums (Kusti pratiyogita) and Music concert (Sangeet Asara). Among the singers one group was meant for singing in high pitch and the other group in low pitch. In the Sangeet Asara singers were presenting different "Prabahdhas" (compositions) of Odissi music such as Shri Geeta Govinda; Odissi with and without Padi; champu, Chhanda, Malasri, Sarimama, Chaturanga, Tribhanga, Bhajana, Janana. The singers were well conversant with "Raga" and "Tala" the techniques of "Kala-Amsa-Mana Proyoga", "Vasti-Proyoga" and "Saudha-Proyoga" in Odissi Sangeet were known to the singers and drummers (Gayaka and Bayaka) of these "Jagas and Akhadas" very well. The seasonal songs were also sung during the different seasons.

The "Jaga Akhada" system, the core of Odissi music promoted the music and was responsible for maintaining the tradition for centuries. The culture of music in all the Jagas continued till the independence. But unfortunately these centres were shrouded in oblivion for the reasons such as: Spread of mass media of communication, cheap and commercial music; lack of knowledge in theory and practice of traditional Odissi music; want of practice, want of textbooks and proper schooling, apathy towards this art and its artists, misinterpretation and misrepresentation of the original form, apathy in recognition of this art as a discipline in academic level, and lack of patronisation.

In Orissa, original Indian classical music in the form of "Raga-Pravandha-Gana" was transformed to Raga-Ksyudra-Geeta Pravandha Gana by Sri Jayadeva, the great composer, illustrious musician, a saint poet of Orissa as well as great devotee of Lord Jagannath. He was born in the first half of the 13th century A.D. in the village Kenduli on the sacred river Prachi in the district of Puri and gave new shape, new taste and colour to Indian Classical music through his ever glittering and uncomparable compositions of Sri Geeta Govinda. Ingredients of classical music like Raga-Tala-Geeta-Chhandas etc. of Sri Geeta Govinda were introduced in the services of the temple of the Lord Jagannath and was accepted as the temple music of Orissa. The musical and poetic potentialities of the compositions of Sri Geeta Govinda were so rich and superb that it had a perpetual influence on the composers of Orissa of the mediaeval and the modern periods. In this regard the Sanskrit compositions of Abhinaba Geeta Govinda of Jayadeva ushered a new era in the history of Indian music which can be rightly identified as Jayadevic-music. This Jayadevic music had paved the way for development and establishment of separate system of Indian classical music in Orissa in the form of Raga Khurda-Geeta-Pravandha-Gana. This music from its beginning had been in practice in the temple of Lord Jagannath as the part of the temple services but it is not the fact, that only the compositions of Sri Geeta Govinda were sung in the Jagannath temple. The Sanskrit compositions of the above composers including the compositions of Sri Geeta Govinda were also sung in the said temple and this practice continued till the beginning of the rule of Pratap Rudra Deva (1497 to 1541 A.D.). From the period of Pratap Rudra Deva only Jayadevic music was resumed in the Jagannath Temple. It is clearly mentioned that no compositions except Geeta Govinda would be sung in the temple.

The discussion on the traditional Odissi music will not be complete without the reference to its practical aspects. Similar to Hindustani and Carnatic music, traditional Odissi music has its own Melas, Ragas, Talas, Aravandhas, which are rendered in a different style. Such characteristic features are illustrated below for understanding traditional Odissi music, in relation to its theoretical aspects.

1. Saras and the Shuddha-Swara-Saptaka: The tonal arrangement of the ‘Nishada-Murchhana’ of the ‘Saraj-Grama’ is accepted the Sudha-Swara-Saptak or the natural scale comprising 22 srutis (microtones) set in ascending form. Among these 22 srutis the seven suddha swaras namely Saraj, Rishav, Gandhara, mahyama, Panchama, Dhaibata and Nishada which are practically used as Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni are placed on the 22nd, 4th, 7th, 9th, 13th, 17th and 20th srutis. Besides these seven Suddha swaras there are also five vikrita swaras. Except Saraj and Pancham, the rest five notes Rishabha, Gandhara, Madhyama, Dhaibat, Nisad when placed on the 2nd, 6th, 11th, 15th and 19th srutis respectively are known as Vikrit Rishbha, Vikrit Gandhar etc. The 7 notes in ascending form are known as Saptak (octave). Three saptakas-Mandra, Madhya, Tara (Lower Octave, middle Octave and Higher Octave) are generally used in this system for practical purpose.

2. Melas: Thirtytwo Melas have been introduced in this system for classification of the Ragas, which are as the follows. :
(1) Sankarabharana (2) Nata-Gauri (3) Nata Nilambari (4) Deva Gandhari (5) Sree (6) Todee Nata (7) Gouri (8) Salanga (9) Abhirika (10) Nilambari (11) Nata Bhairavi (12) Uttara Gujjari (13) Todisree (14) Bhairavi (15) Mala Bhairavi (16) Todi (17) Kalyana (18) Vasanta Varadi (19) Punnag Varadi (20)Nata Varadi (21) Kalyanagauda (22) Todi Kalyana (23)Varadi (24) Salag Kalyan (25) Kalyana Abhiri (26) Naga Samanta (27) Kalyan Bhairavi (28) Vaijayanti (29) Vijaya Samanta (30) Naga Varadi (31) Varadi Bhairavi (32) Barati Todi
3. Ragas: The Ragas of this system are divided into five groups such as :
Group ‘A’
The Ragas of this group are not found either in their names or in their melodic structures in Hindustani and Carnatic Paddhatis, such as; ‘Kumbha Kamodi’, ‘Kedara kamodi’, ‘Karanata Abhirika’, etc.
Group ‘B’
The Ragas of this group have certain similarities with those of Hindusthani and Carnatic Padhatis not in names, but in their tonal arrangements.

UDRA PADDHATI

CARNATIC PADDHATI

HINDUSTANI PADDHATI

Kokila

Mohana

Bhupali

Ansavari

Saveri

Jogiya

Dhanasri

Vajrakati

Bhimpalasi

Group ‘C’
The ragas of this group are having certain similarities with those of Hindustani and Carnatic paddhati is not in total structures but in their names only.

UDRA PADDHATI

CARNATIC PADDHATI

HINDUSTANI PADDHATI

Chhayanata

Chhayanata

Chhayanata

Group ‘D’
Some Ragas of this system are categorised under this group thus the tonal arrangements of which are found only in Carnatic system but with different names.

UDRA PADDHATI

CARNATIC PADDHATI

Kamodi

Desaksi

Gopikamodi

Kamboji

Baradi

Ramakriya

Group ‘E’
Some Ragas of this system are categorised under thsi group whose tonal arrangements are found only in Hindustani system, but in different names.

UDRA PADDHATI

CARNATIC PADDHATI

Singha Bhairavi

Asavari

Meghanada

Salaga Kalyana

Kalyani

Suddha Kalyana
Bhup Kalyana

Nearly 150 Ragas are found to be in vogue in this system. But we expect more Ragas which can be explored from various traditional compositions of this system;
4. Talas: Already twenty Talas are found to be in vogue in this system and most of them are having similarities in their Matras with those of Hindustani and Carnatic Talas, but having difference in their rhythmic structures or compositions and names. Some examples in this regard are given below:
"udra paddhati carnatic paddhati hindustani paddhati"
1. Ektali Mana Tala Kaharwa
2. Kuduka Tala Lekha Tala Chautal
3. Nishari Tala Bhoga Tala Fardast Tala
4. Jhula Tala Patti Tala Dadra Tala
5. Rupak Tala Chakra Tala Nirdosa Tala
The melodic structures and characteristics of the Ragas, tonal arrangements of the Melas and the rhythmic structures of Talas of this system are given in the books namely ‘Kishore Chandrananda Champu Lahari’ and ‘Udra Paddhatiya Mela-Raga P - Tala-Laxan’ published by the Odissi Vikash Pratisthan Puri.
5. Pravandhas: Compositions used in classical music particularly in vocal music are known as ‘Pravandhas’. We have already come across eighteen varieties of compositions in this Paddhati which are known as (i) Sri Geeta Govinda and other Sanskrit compositions (ii) Anirjukta Pravandha (iii) Divya Manusi Pravandha (iv) Chhanda, (v) Chautisa, (vi)Chaupadi (now known as Odissi) (vii) Champu (viii) Malasree (ix) Sarimana (x) Kuduka Geeta (xi) Chaturanga (xii) Tribhanga, (xiii) Vyanjani, (xiv) Swara-Malika (xv) Laxana (xvi) Bhajan (xvii) Janana, (xviii) Vandana. The compositions of ‘Shree Geeta Govinda’ and other Sanskrit works are categorised under two types of Pravandhas such as :- (i) Divya Alikrama-Chitrapada-Ksyudrageeta Pravandha. The composition which is not set to any Tala is known as ‘Aniryukta Pravandha’. ‘Chhandas’ are two types which are categorised under (i) Sundhruva-Panchali-Ksyudra Geeta-Pravandha and (ii) Adhruva-Panchali Ksyudra Geeta-pravandha. ‘Chautisa’ are categorised under Adhruva-Panchali Ksyudra Geeta Pravandha. ‘Chaupadi’ compositions are mainly of two types such as :- Chaupadi with ‘Padi’ and without ‘Padi’ which are categorised under four types of Pravandhas - (i) Chitrapada, Ksyudra Geeta Pravandha (ii) Chitrakala Ksyudra Geeta Pravandha, (iii) Dhruvapada Ksyudra Geeta Pravandha, (iv) Vastu Pravandha ‘Champu’ compositions are categorised as Divya-Manusi-Alikrama Ksyudra Geeta Pravandha, ‘Malasree’ compositions are categorised as Divya-Manusi-Alikrama Ksyudra Geeta Pravandha, ‘Malasree’ compositions are categorised under two types of Pravandhas (a) Chitapada-Ksyudra Geeta Pravandha and (b) Chitakala Ksyudra Geeta Pravandha. Sarimana compositions are also grouped under Ksyudra Geeta Pravandha. Kuduka Geeta compositions are also grouped under Ksyudra Geeta Pravandha. ‘Chaturanga’ compositions are grouped under ‘Dipini-Manusi-Pravandha’. ‘Tribhanga’, compositions are grouped under ‘Pavini-Rupaka-pravandha’. ‘Vyanjani’, compositions come under Manusi-Matruka-Pravandha. Bhajana and Janana are the light classical compositions. ‘Vandanas’ are Ksyudra Geeta Pravandhas.

Though, like Carnatic and Hindustani systems, the establishment of Ragas and Talas through their improvisations are also done in traditional Odissi music but due importance is given in this system to the text of the song composition in the Nibadha portion while improving Ragas and the Talas. Many types of rhythmic improvisations which are done in the Nivadha portion of the compositions of Hindustani and Carnatic systems, are totally absent in the traditional Odissi system. The performers enjoy only those rhythmic improvisations, whose implementations in the Nivadha portion never affect the theme of the song, text of the compositions of traditional Odissi music.

Besides these aforesaid difference, the process of phonation of ‘Jamak’ and ‘Tana’ (practical techniques) of Odissi music are also different form those of Carnatic and Hindustani music. The phonation process of Jamak and Tana in traditional Odissi music are just in between the two process of Hindustani and Carnatic music, which can be identified as curling Jamakas and Tanas. This particular style of Jamak and Tana adds distictive melodic structure to the musical entity of this system.

The sound produced from the Pakhauz (Percussuin instrument for accompaniment) in Udra Paddhati differs from that of Hindustani Mridang and Carnatic Mridangam due to difference in their costruction. The elaborated exposition of the standard compositions of Talas of this system which are played in Pakhauz through improvisations and expanded compositions are done with the strictly maintenance of the meters of the Talas which are not maintained in the improvisations of Talas in Carnatic music and to a title extent is maintained in Hindusthani music.

The improvisations of the Ragas in ‘Ahivaddha-portion’ in Odissi music is done with the help of meaning less syllabus like ‘Aa’, ‘Ta’, ‘Tun’, ‘Ri’, ‘De’, ‘Na’, etc. in slow, middle and fast tempo, with the use of ‘Jamak and Tan’, which are markedly different from those of Carnatic and Hindusthani music.

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