Tamil Music

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Ancient Thamizh Music

Thamizh music is one of the ancient music scheme available. thamizh in ancient time was divided into prose(iyal), music (isai), drama (Naatakam) and they flourished on thier own in the ancient Thamizh land. But today very less people even among Tamiz speaking know about the Tamil isai. Tamil music has a lot of similarities with carnatic music. There is a view that carnatic music might have originated from Tamil music. The references to Tamil music are there in ancient Tamil literature like SilappadhikAram.

Thamizh and Carnatic music systems

The very famous carnatic music having its roots shared with / evolved from Thamizh music one finds that the current Carnatic music has given new names to the ancient terms, fine tuned and uses the system. The following list gives the Tamizh music terms and the equivalents in Carnatic music.

Terms in Tamil and Carnatic music
Tamil music Carnatic music
பண் (paN) ராகம் (rAgam)
பதம் (padham) சுரம் (swaram)
தாளம் (thALam) தாளம் (thALam)
ஆரோசை (ArOsai) ஆரோகணம் (ArOhaNam)
அமரோசை (amarOsai) அவரோகணம் (avarOhaNam)
பதம் ஏழு (padham Ezhu)
  • குரல் (kural)
  • துத்தம் (thuththam)
  • கைக்கிளை (kaikkiLai)
  • உழை (uzhai)
  • இளி (iLi)
  • விளரி (viLari)
  • தாரம் (thAram)
  • சப்த ஸ்வரம் (saptha swaram)
  • சட்ஜம் (shadjam)
  • ரிஷபம் (Rishabham)
  • காந்தாரம் (gAndhAram)
  • மத்யமம் (madhyamam)
  • பஞ்சமம் (panchamam)
  • தைவதம் (dhaivatham)
  • நிஷாதம் (nishadham)
  • Thevarap paNkaL

    In Thevaaram the following paNs are used. There are 21 paNs used in Thevaaram. (Some say 24 and others 27 etc). The entire Thevaram is arranged in sequence with respect to the paNs. (The list below is not in the same sequence as that is followed in Thirumurais). In the 9 th Thirumurai a paN which is not used in other Thirumaurai called Saalarapaani is used.

    PaN and the Raaga equivalents

    PaN Raaga Samples
    Nattapaadai Naattai GIF MP3
    Kolli Navaros GIF MP3
    Indhalam Mayamalavagoula GIF MP3
    Kurinchi Arikambhodhi GIF MP3
    Chendhurutthi Madhyamaavadhi GIF MP3
    Yaazhmoori Ataanaa GIF MP3
    seekaamaram NaadhanamakkriyA GIF MP3
    Nattaraakam PandhuvaraaLi GIF MP3
    Thakkaraakam Kaambodhi GIF MP3
    Pazhandhakkaraakam Suddhasaaveri GIF MP3
    Pazhampanchuram Shankaraparanam GIF MP3
    Thakkesi Kambhodhi GIF MP3
    Sevvazhi Yadhukulakaambhodhi GIF MP3
    Piyandhai Gaandhaaram Navaros GIF MP3
    Gaandhaaram n^avarOs GIF MP3
    Gaandhaarapanchamam Kedharagaulai GIF MP3
    Kollikkauvaanam Navaros GIF MP3
    Kausikam Bhairavi GIF MP3
    Panchamam Akiri GIF MP3
    Saadhaari PandhuvaraaLi GIF MP3
    Puraneermai Bhupalam GIF MP3
    Andhaalikkurinchi Saamaa GIF MP3
    Megaraagakkurinchi Neelaampari GIF MP3
    Viyaazhakkurinchi Sauraashtram GIF MP3
    Saalaraapaani GIF

    Mohanam MP3

    Non paN based

    (Since the following refer to the structure of the song and not a definite paN (raaga), it can be sung in any raaga, though there are a few specifics traditionally used).
    Yaappu (Structure) Samples
    Thirukkurundthokai GIF MP3
    Thirunerisai GIF MP3
    Thiruviruththam GIF MP3
    Thiruththaandakam GIF MP3

    In the above table some of the paNs have same carnatic raaga equivalent. (like Kolli, Kollikkauvaanam have equivalent as Navaros). There should be some differences. People who have good knowledge on both music systems will be able to explain.

    The preferred time associated with the melodies (paN)

    The following melodies are sung for an equi-divided durations from the morning to night in the order.

    The melodies for the forenoon

    1. Puraneermai
    2. Gaandhaaram, Piyandhaik Gaandhaaram
    3. Kausikam
    4. Indhalam, Thirukkurundthokai
    5. Thakkesi
    6. Nattaraagam, Saadhaari
    7. Nattapaadai
    8. Pazhampanchuram
    9. Gaandhaara Panchamam
    10. Panchamam

    The melodies for the afternoon

    1. Thakkaraagam
    2. Pazhandthakkaraagam
    3. Seekaamaram
    4. Kolli, Kollikkauvaanam, Thirunerisai, Thiruviruththam
    5. Viyaazhakkurinchi
    6. Megaraagakkurinchi
    7. Kurinchi
    8. Andhaalikkurinchi

    The melodies of any time

    1. Sevvazhi
    2. Sendthuruththi
    3. Thiruththaandakam

    There seem to be some differences in the carnatic and Tamil music. For example the paN Mekaraagakkurinchi is associated with getting rain. The padhikams in this paN are sung whenever there is any drought to get rain. The Thiruvaiyaaru padhikam of Thirugnaanasambandhar also indicates this. But in carnatic music amruthavarshini is the raaga that is supposed to get the rain and the equivalent of Mekaraagakkurinchi - Neelaampari, is a raaga that should be sung in the night.

    In the first seven Thirumurais (Thevaaram as they are collectively called), Nineth Thirumurai and some portions of Eleventh Thirumurai (Kaaraikkaal Ammaiyaar) the paN for every padhikam is specified and it is supposed to be sung in only that specified paN. There is a paN Thiruththaandakam which is found in many of by Thirunaavukkarasar's Thevaarams and they are the oldest usage of that particular paN. So Thirunaavukkarasar is also called Thaandaka vEndhar.

    Music instruments

    As veenaa is the major music instrument in carnatic music, yAz was the most famous music instrument that gets mentioned (vINa is also quite often referred) in many of the ancient Tamiz literature. It is also a string instrument like vINA. Thiru n^IlakaNta yAzppANar of thiru erukkaththam puliyuur used to play the padhikams of thiru nyAna samban^dhar in yAz. More information on this instrument yAz can be found in "yAzn^Ul" written by swami vibulAnan^dha. Some of the other music instruments that are referred in thirumuRai are vINA (string instrument), kokkarai, kudamuzA (thALa instruments). Some hymns in "kallAdam" describe about these instruments.

    All the thEvArams were locked up in a room in the chithambaram temple for some centuries. When the "Shiva pAdha sEkara" "thirumuRai kaNda chOza" emperor rAjarAjan took them out, the paN for many of the padhikams were not known. He asked madhaN^ka chULA maNiyAr, a woman successor came in the yAzpANar family to specify the paN for all the padhikams. The padhikams are sung only in that specified paN.

    The twelfth thirumuRai periya purANam tells about the making of flute and playing on the flute in AnAya n^AyanAr purANam songs 13, 24-28. kallAdam has reference to lot of music instruments.

    Musicians - pANar / OdhuvAr

    The musicians were the dynamic creative individuals who propelled the growth of the music system. In ancient days, they were called pANar (pADiNiyAr is the female gender). There were a lot of pANar who used to play the songs in the instrument yAz. A city in Srilanka gets the name by this relation (yAzpANam). A lot of saN^gam literature were written with the pANar as main characters (perumpANARRuppdai, chiRupANARRuppadai etc.). Thiru n^IlakaNta yAzppANar (1) of thiru erukkaththam puliyuur used to play the padhikams of thiru nyAna samban^dhar in yAz.

    During the great bhakti revolution that took thamiz nadu to a great elevation, kAraikkAl ammaiyAr was the first one to sing songs with ten hymns called padhikam in praise of Lord shiva. The first three of the four pillars of shaivism in tamilnadu, namely cambandhar (3), appar (4), cundharar (5) composed innumerable songs in padhikam style rich in music that revamped the whole tamilnadu.

    The padhikams called together as thEvAram were so popular that the kings starting from the great thirumuRai kaNDa rAja rAja chOzan nominated musicians at temples across thamiz land to sing in the temples these hymns in music in the specified mannar. These devotional musicians are called OdhuvAr. Their service continues even today in the temples spreading the devotion through vibrant music.

    References to pAN in thirumuRai

    • pANan isai paththiyaiyAl pADuthalum parindthaLiththAn. (பாணன் இசை பத்தியையால் பாடுதலும் பரிந்தளித்தான்.)
    • palavOsaith thamizhavaiyum uNNinRathOr suvaiyum. (பலவோசைத் தமிழவையும் உண்ணின்றதோர் சுவையும்.)
    • Ezhisai vaNNamum. (ஏழிசை வண்ணமும்.)
    • paNNoDu yAzh vINai payinRAy. (பண்ணொடு யாழ் வீணை பயின்றாய்.)
    • yAzhin pAttai ugandtha aDikaLE. (யாழின் பாட்டை உகந்த அடிகளே.)
    • mika n^alla vINai thaDavi. (மிக நல்ல வீணை தடவி.)
    • paNNiDaith thamizhoppAy. (பண்ணிடைத் தமிழொப்பாய்.)
    • pAlai yAzhp pAttukandthAn. (பாலை யாழ்ப் பாட்டுகந்தான்.)
    • kolliyAm paNNukandthAr. (கொல்லியாம் பண்ணுகந்தார்.)
    • sAmavEdha gandtharuvam virumpummE. (சாமவேத கந்தருவம் விரும்பும்மே.)
    • vAymUri - vINai muthiravOr vAymUri pADi. (வாய்மூரி - வீணை முதிரவோர் வாய்மூரி பாடி.)
    • thAram - pADukinRa paNthAramE. (தாரம் - பாடுகின்ற பண்தாரமே.)
    • gandtharuvam- gandtharuvam pAttisaiyil kAttukinRa paNNavan. (கந்தருவம் - கந்தருவம் பாட்டிசையில் காட்டுகின்ற பண்ணவன்.)
    • gAndthAram - vINaiyEndthik gAndthAram thAm muralA. (காந்தாரம் - வீணையேந்திக் காந்தாரம் தாம் முரலா.)
    • kAmaram - kAmarangkaL pADith thirivAr. (காமரம் - காமரங்கள் பாடித் திரிவார்.)
    • panjsamam - panjsamam pADiyADum theLLiyAr. (பஞ்சமம் - பஞ்சமம் பாடியாடும் தெள்ளியார்.)

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    See Also:
    1. Thiruneelakanta Yaazhpaanar
    2. Kaaraikkaal Ammaiyaar
    3. Thirugnaana Sambandhar
    4. Thirunaavukkarasar (Appar)
    5. Sundarar

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