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Music in Kerala


Vadakkanppatu
The northern ballads which extol chivalry and valour of the 'Ankachekavars' or Warriors who waged many a famous duel. Though these folk songs form a vast and exhaustive branch, few of them have survived the passage of time.

Entertainment Songs
These are mostly sung during festivals like Onam.
Songs Of Christian Art Forms
The songs accompanying Christian art forms like the 'Margom Kali' and the 'Chavittu Natakam' have a distinct language and style of their own. Their music too is an important tributary of the folk tradition of Kerala.
Film Songs
Since the beginning of Malayalam Cinema in the nineteen forties, nearly ten thousand film songs have been composed for over 2500 films. Songs are an integral part of movies here and incorporate a wide array of folk and classical tunes.

Regularly aired over the radio, television and public address systems, film songs have become deeply ingrained in the minds of the malayalee masses. The memorable contributions of lyricist like Vayalar, O.N.V. and P.Bhaskaran and music composers like Devarajan, K. Raghavan. Dakshinamoorthy and Baburaj have greatly enriched the vibrant traditions of Malayalam Film Music.
Folk Songs
Kerala has a rich tradition of folk songs and ballads, most of which are sung in local dialects. With the changing times, these songs have waned in popularity. Passed down successive generations by a vibrant oral tradition, the authorship of most of these songs is obscure.

Kathakali Music
Lyrics are sung by two vocalists. Two varieties of drums form the orchestra, the Maddalam and the Chenda. In accompaniment are the Chengila, a bell metal gong played by one vocalist and the Ilathalam or Cymbals played by the other.

Lullabies
Kerala has a wealth of lilting folk Lullabies. Nurtured down the generations, they have cast an influence even over the mainstream Malayalam poetry.
Work Songs
Songs to alleviate the burden of labour. The work songs of Kerala can be categorized as harvest songs, hunting songs, boat songs and weavers' songs.

Songs Of Temple Art Forms
Mostly eulogies of the goddess Devi, they are rendered while drawing the deity's figure on the ground (Kalamezhuthu). They are also sung in accompaniment to ritual performances like Mudiyettu, Kolam Tullal, Patayani, Theeyattu, Pulluvan Pattu and Paana.
Mappilappattu
Sung by the Muslims of north Kerala. They are written and rendered in a lingo called arabic-malayalam.
Sopana Sangeetham
The word 'Sopana' means a flight of steps leading upto the sanctum sanctorum of a temple. Devotional recitals rendered on these steps became 'sopana sangeetham'. Besides, the musical notes (ragas) too have an ascending and descending order. Even though over fifty instruments can accompany Sopana Sangeetham, Edakka is most commonly used.

Tribal Music
There are as many as 47 sects of tribals in Kerala, each having a unique culture and heritage of its own. Rich art forms and music are integral parts of tribal music.
Carnatic Music
The classical music of South India. It became popular in Kerala under the patronage of Swathi Thirunal, a monarch of the erstwhile state of Travancore. The vocalist is usually accompanied by an orchestra of mridangam, violin, ghatam and moorchang.

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