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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.
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.
|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)
சப்த ஸ்வரம் (saptha swaram)
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.
(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).
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 following melodies are sung for an equi-divided durations from the morning to night in the order.
The melodies for the forenoon
The melodies for the afternoon
The melodies of any time
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.
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.
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.
Visit the Gallery section for listening to many Tamil Thirumurai music.