Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala

Talavadya Kalakal

Art forms based on musical rhythm.

Kerala’s art forms based on tala (musical rhythm) are very rich. Doubtlessly, it can be said that they are 100 percent Kerala’s. These art forms originated in Kerala largely as a result of religious rituals (Hindu religion in particular). Gradually they began to accompany Krishnanattom, Kathakali, Ottanthulall etc. With the passage of time most of these tala-based art forms began to occupy a place of prominence independently.

Just as Kathakali music became a separate entity divorced from Kathakali and began to be performed at kutcheris (concerts), these tala-based art forms too, began to be performed solo and received acceptance. Removed from religion these independent art forms began to have their own existence and gained popularity. Not only for public functions and processions, even for weddings these art forms became indispensable, a sort of status symbol. Panchavadya ensemble and thayambaka got a lot of recognition. There are many who appreciate chenda ensembles like Pandi, Panchari.

Though not to the extent of Panchavadyam, thayambaka, chenda ensemble, tala-based art forms like keli, kombu pattu, kuzhal pattu and other temple art forms have rasikas in some places. Among them kombu pattu and kuzhal pattu are not mere tala-based art forms. They have a musical nature too. As in the case of other tala – based art forms, in these forms one discerns not only the presentation / delineation of fixed talas. In kombu pattu, besides kombu, for rhythm, there is only ilathalam. There may be four or five kombus (horns).

In Kuzhal pattu, Kurumkuzhal and ilathalam are used. And, towards the end, idamthalachenda and valanthalachenda are played. Kurumkuzhal is played in a peculiar raga. The other instruments serve as accompaniments to Kuzhal pattu.

Keli is performed in three different ways - Keli performed along with chenda and maddalam, Sandhya keli in Kathakali and Shuddha maddala keli.  Maddalam is an important and an integral part in all three Keli’s. Keli also has thayambaka’s basic tradition.

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