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Odissi music

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Odissi music

Odissi music (oṛiśī) is a genre of classical music in India originated from the eastern state of Odisha. Indian Classical music has five significant branches: Avanti, Panchali, Odramagadhi, Hindustani and Carnatic. Of these, Odramagadhi exists in the form of Odissi music. Generally, Odissi is one of the classical dances of India performed with Odissi music. Odissi music got shaped during the time of famous Oriya poet, Jayadeva, who composed lyrics meant to be sung. By the 11th century AD folk music of Odisha existing in the form of Triswari, Chatuhswari, and Panchaswari was modified into the classical style. However, Odissi songs were written even before the Oriya language developed. Odissi music has a rich legacy dating back to the 2nd century BCE, when king Kharvela, the ruler of Odisha (Kalinga) patronized this music and dance.[1]

Origin and history

Music of India
A Lady Playing the Tanpura, ca. 1735 (Rajasthan)
Media and performance
Music awards
Music festivals
Music media
Nationalistic and patriotic songs
National anthem Jana Gana Mana
Regional music

Ancient Odisha had rich culture of music what is proved by many archaeological excavation throughout Odisha. At Sankarjung in the Angul district, the initial spade work surfaced the cultural stratum of Chalcolitic period. From here, polished stone celts and hand-made pottery have been excavated. Some of the Celts are narrow but large in size. Thus they are described as Bar-celts. On the basis of bar-celts discovered in Sankarjung it could be argued that they were earlier musical instrument in India.[2] There are historical evidences in the form of sculptural evidences, i.e. musical instruments, singing and dancing postures of damsels in the Ranigumpha Caves in Khandagiri and Udayagiri at Bhubaneswar.

Charya Geetika (poems of Buddhist literature) written between 7th to 12th century mostly by the poets of Odisha and Bengal are connected with Buddhist Tantric cult. All India literatures on music like Bharat Muni's Natya Shastra, written in 2nd to 4th century AD., referred to the Odra Magadhi style of music and dance, which belonged to Odisha. Similarly, Sangeet Ratnakar also had a reference to Odra Magadhi style of Music.[3] There are certain texts on Odissi music which are authentic and authoritative, and are excellent indices to the development of the music. These are written in Sanskrit or Oriya and contain the characteristics of Udramagadhi, Ardhamagadhi, Udra Bhasa and Utkalika Bibhasa. These were Oriya Charyagitika by different Oriya Sidhacharyas in 7th to 11th century, Gita Govinda by Sri Jayadeva in 12th century, Sangita Sara by Hari Nayak in 14th century to 15th century, Rasavaridhi by Brundavan Das in 15th century, Oriya Mahabharata by Sarala Das in 15th century, Rasakallola by Dinakrushna Das in 16th century, etc. Other books written in later years were Sangita Darpana, Sangit Kalpadruma, Sangitarnava Chandrika, Baidehisha Vilash, etc. It proves that Odissi music is more ancient than its counterparts like Hindustani or Carnatic[1]

Even Mahari tradition and singing of Geeta-Govinda in the temple of Lord Jagannath since the time of King Pratap Rudra Dev in the 15th century proves the rich tradition of Odissi. In the temples of Odisha of 7th and 13th century AD such as Parsuramesvar, Muktesvara, Lingaraj and Konark the engravings depicting musical performances and dancing postures still seem alive on the wall.

After the reign of Mukund Dev in the 16th century AD., Odissi music suffered during the Maratha rule in Odisha during the 17th and & 18th century AD. It also did not flourish during the British Raj.


Jayadeva, the saint-poet, the great composer and illustrious master of classical music, has immense contribution to Odissi music. During his time Odra-Magadhi style music got shaped and achieved its classical status. He indicated the classical ragas prevailing at that time in which these were to be sung. Prior to that there was the tradition of Chhanda which was simple in musical outline. From the 16th century onwards, treatises on music[4][5] were Sangitamava Chandrika, Gita Prakasha, Sangita Kalalata and Natya Manorama. A couple of treatise namely, Sangita Sarani and Sangi Narayana, were also written in the early path of the 19th century.

Odissi Sangita comprises four classes of music namely Dhruvapada, Chitrapada, Chitrakala and Panchal, described in the above mentioned texts. The chief Odissi ragas[4][5] are Kalyana, Nata, Shree Gowda, Baradi, Panchama, Dhanashri, Karnata, Bhairavee and Shokabaradi. Odissi Sangita (music) is a synthesis of four classes of music, i.e. Dhruvapada, Chitrapada, Chitrakala and Panchal, described in the above-mentioned texts. The Dhruvapada is the first line or lines to be sung repeatedly. Chitrapada means the arrangement of words in an alliterative style. The use of art in music is called Chitrakala. Kavisurya Baladev Rath, the renowned Oriya poet wrote lyrics, which are the best examples of Chitrakala. All of these were combined to form the style that's peculiar to Odissi music.

Chhanda (metrical section) contains the essence of Odissi music. The Chhandas were composed by combining Bhava (theme), Kala (time), and Swara (tune). The Chaurisha represents the originality of Odissi style. All the thirty four (34) letters of the Oriya alphabet from 'Ka' to 'Ksha' are used chronologically at the beginning of each line.

A special feature of Odissi music is the padi which consists of words to be sung in Druta Tala (fast beat). Odissi music can be sung to different talas: Navatala (nine beats), Dashatala (ten beats) or Egartala (eleven beats). Odissi ragas are different from the ragas of Hindustani and Karnataki classical music. The primary Odissi ragas are Kalyana, Nata, Shree Gowda, Baradi, Panchama, Dhanashri, Karnata, Bhairavee and Shokabaradi.

Odissi music is sung through Raganga, Bhabanga and Natyanga Dhrubapadanga followed by Champu, Chhanda, Chautisa, Pallabi, Bhajan, Janana, and Gita Govinda, which are considered to be a part of the repertoire of Odissi or an allied act form of Odissi.

Odissi music has codified grammars, which are presented with specified Raagas. It has also a distinctive rendition style. It is lyrical in its movement with wave-like ornamentation. The pace of singing in Odissi is not very fast nor too slow, and it maintains a proportional tempo which is very soothing.

The great exponents[4][5] of Odissi music in modern times are the Late Singhari Shyamasundar Kar, Markeandeya Mahapatra, Kashinath Pujapanda, Balakirshan Das, Gopal Chandra Panda, Bhubaneswari Misra, Shymamani Devi and Sunanda Patnaik, who have achieved eminence in classical music.

Relation with other classical music

Krushnadas Badajena Mohapatra was an Oriya singer in Akbar’s court, and was exposed to the Hindustani classical style of music. Therefore, in this way Odissi music influenced by Hindustani music. Odissi style of classical music has some similarity with Hindustani ‘Dhrupad’ style. ‘Gamak’ is common to both, though Odissi also adopts the ‘Tom Nom’ sounds. The percussion instrument played with Odissi music is the ‘Mardal’, which is similar to ‘pakhawaj’. Temple sculptures in Odisha abound in statues of ‘Mardal’ players. Odissi has certain similarities with the Carnatic style of music also. At one time the Kalinga Empire extended all the way up to the river Kaveri and incorporated major parts of Karnataka. King Purosottam Deva of Odisha conquered Kanchi and married the princess. There were many singers from South India in the courts of Odisha. The main singer of the compositions of Kavisurya was Rajamani, a Telugu weaver. Therefore, a strong influence of Karnataki style of music is prevalent in Odissi music. Many renowned Odissi lyricists like Upendra Bhanja, Kavisurya, Gopakrushna, Gaurahari etc. are from South Odisha where Karnataka had a strong influence. It is this interaction between Odisha and South India that led to the widespread singing of Jayadeva’s Astapadis in South Odisha in typical Carnatic style of music. Some raagas specific to Odisha are "Desakhya", "Dhanasri", "Belabali", "Kamodi", "Baradi" etc. However, compositions are also sung in Odissi style in Carnatic and Hindustani raagas. Some examples of Carnatic raagas used in Odissi music are — "Saberi", "Mohana", "Maya Malab Gauda", "Kamavardhini", "Sankarabharan" etc. Some examples of Hindustani raagas used in Odissi music are — "Bageshri", "Malhar", "Rageshri", "Bhupali", "Khambaj", "Desh", "Bhairavi" etc. Additionally, some Odissi raagas bear the same names as Hindustani or Carnatic raagas, but have different note combinations. Furthermore, there are many raagas that have the same note combinations in Hindustani, Carnatic and Odissi styles, but are called by different names. Some examples are — Raaga "Durga" in Hindustani is the same as raaga "Sudha Saveri" in Carnatic style is the same as raaga "Kamodi" in Odissi style. In fact, the Hindustani raaga "Chandrakauns" could have developed from the Odissi raaga "Lalita".

Nature of Odissi music composition

A good Odissi music composition must have following characteristics, 1.Varitation of beat and pause. 2.Use of "gamak" or "Andolan". 3."Matu" meaning lucid presentation of composition. 4.Efficient and pleasing expansion of the "Raaga" and "Geeta". 5.Lucid and Melodious rendering of "Taan". 6.Singing of special words and notes with novelty. 7.Avoiding repeatition of same notes or compositions. 8.Every sentence rendered with its unique quality, beautification and melody.

Odissi music in modern time

The great exponents[4][5] of Odissi music in modern times are the Late Singhari Shyamasundar Kar, Markeandeya Mahapatra, Kashinath Pujapanda, Balakirshan Das, Bhubaneswari Misra, Shymamani Devi, Padmashree Raghunath Panigrahi, Ramahari Das, Laxmikant Palit and Sunanda Patnaik, who have achieved eminence in classical music.

In order to popularize the Odissi music the State Government's Culture Department has undertaken a massive programme named 'Odissi Sandhya' to be performed in all major cities of the country. The programme is being executed through Guru Kelu Charan Mohapatra Odissi Research Centre in association with different cultural organizations located in different parts of the country, like Central Sangeet Natak Academy, Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre, Kolkata, and Prachhin Kalakendra, Chandigarh. Programmes held at Chandigarh and New Delhi have already started creating a mild sensation among the music lovers of the country.[6]

See also


  1. ^ a b [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ a b c d "Culture Department". Retrieved 2012-05-26. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Orissa Dance & Music". Retrieved 2012-05-26. 
  6. ^ "Orissa's new name is Odisha". The Times of India. 2011-03-24. Retrieved 2012-05-26. 

External links

  • Odissi dance at the Open Directory
  • Indian Performing Arts Promotions a proponent of Odissi
  • Odissi Performing Dancers in USA Odissi Music & Dance
  • History of Odissi
  • More about Gopal Chandra Panda
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