The music and dance of Tamil Nadu had their beginnings
in the temples. From early times, different groups of people were appointed
to sing divine songs in the temple. Officers called Thevara Nayakams
or leaders of the world of music, arranged the private worship of kings
and group singing.
Odhuvars, Sthanikars, or Kattalaiyars offer short musical programmes in
the temples by singing the devotional Thevaram songs. Musicians had total
reliance on divine grace. They lead the chorus in the temple congregational
prayers to the accompaniment of the Sarangi. Sarangi was in use in the
temples of Tamil Nadu till the end of the nineteenth century.
The temples at Madurai, Tirunelveli, Sucindram and Alwar
Tirunagiri have musical pillars. Such pillars are found in the Artha Mandapam
where the singing of Thevaram was accompanied by the music from the stone-pillars.
Intricacies of Folk Music
Tamil folk music is remarkable for the tala intricacies.
Very ancient classical ragas or melodies like Manji, Sama, Navaroz, Kalyani,
Karaharapriya, Thodi, and Nadanam-k-kria are used in the folk-songs.
Many instruments are used in folk music.