The genius of the people of Kerala for music could be
seen from the days of 'Chilappatikaram'.
'Chilappatikaram' was originally conceived as a treatise of isai (music)
which had two divisions; pan (full fledged raga) and tiran (its off shoot
or Janya raga). There were innumerable varieties of tunes of ancient music
created as a result of the combination of these pans and tirans. 'Chilappatikaram'
(epic of Anklets), is a great integrative work. The author was a Chera
Prince. The musical culture revealed in the work is very advanced. Vocal
music had evolved to a high aesthetic sensitiveness and great technical
sophistication. A variety of stringed instruments and percussion instruments
The rulers of the land managed to be adept in music.
Kulasekhara of the fourteenth century and his brother Aditya Varma were
great musicians. Aditya Varma has to his credit, the Vadasseri inscription
of 1333 and also the fine message poem-' Unnineeli Sandesam'. Veera Kerala
Varma, the great soldier- litterateur of the seventeenth century, translated
Valmiki's 'Ramayana', composed a beautiful hymn of eight stanzas which
has dexterously woven into its lyrical text the names of two dozen ragas.
Lyrical and musical masterpiece of the twelfth century,
Jayadeva's 'Gita Govinda' drifted down to south and provided some stimulus
to the rise of the dance-drama, Kathakali. In the eighteenth century,
Ramapurath Warrier translated it into Malayalam. In many songs, he has
scored the lyrics to the same ragas and talas as in the original, but
in some cases he has attempted innovation.
The eighteenth century ruler of Travancore, Balarama
Varma wrote an important treatise on music and dance entitled 'Balarama
Bharatam'. He follows Bharata and the accent in his analysis is on dance,
for which music is an indispensable accompaniment and embellishment. The
treatment of music is detailed, especially valuable being descriptive
classification of percussion, string and wind instruments. Texts like
the 'Sangita-Santram', the 'Sangita-Chudamani', the 'Sangita-Manjari',
the 'Svarata-ladi-Lakshanam' etc belong to much earlier epochs. The publication
and translation of these works will greatly enrich Indian musicology.
There is a wealth of material in these texts. The 'Sangita-Chudamani'
describes ninety ragas, several of them, have one hundred and one talas.
Kunchan Nambiar created the dance recital form known as the Thullal. He
composed many ragas like Mohana, Dvijavanti, Ananda Bhairavi and
a variety of talas.