Tamilans are the great musicians.... ( ancient tamil music)

The music of the pre-Christian era, namely, the Sangam period is called Tamil music. This period ranges approximately between 300 BC and 3 AD. Tamil music is considered one of the most ancient music systems in the world. This is a very special system of music, characteristic and specific to the Tamil people. The historical references to the structure of music, musical instruments, method of singing, the circumstances under which the music developed, etc have been cited in very ancient texts

carnatic music today revolves around the celebrated trinity, Tyagaraja, Dikshitar and Syamasastri. In Tamil Nadu, Tamil isai also has a phenomenal growth. Then one may question as to whether these two are different ones. the deep researches came to the conclusion that these are one and the same.

It is generally said that music came from sama veda. Similarly in Tamil tradition, musical texts are available right from the first sangam period. Works which are meant for singing had the name “paadal”. Lot of musical references are found in tamil poetic works(literature) like Tolkappiyam, Silappadikaram etc.

Silappadikaram gives a lot of information about music and dance. There are eleven types of dances mentioned in the chapter, Arangerru kaadai, explaining the maiden performance of the dancer Madhavi. In the same chapter the qualities that a yazh player, flute player and the drummer should possess are explained in detail under the headings, Yazacirian amaidi, Kuzalasirian amaidi and Tannumai asirian amaidi. The names of the seven svaras [sa (satjam), ri (rishabam), ga (gaantharam), ma (matiyamam), pa (panjamam), da (daivatam, ni (nishatam)] are mentioned as kural (sa), tuttam (ri), kaikkilai (ga), uzai (ma), ili (pa), vilari (da) and taram (ni).

tholkapiyam is written by Tolkappiar, he gives references to the music that prevailed about 2000 years ago, besides dealing with the life of the early Tamilians, their customs, social and political conditions and the physical and geographical particulars. From tholkapiyam, v can understand that the country was divided into four main regions - Kurinji (hills), Marudam (arable lands), Mullai (pastoral regions) and Neithal (coastal belts). Palai (desert) was also added. Each region had its own food, occupation, Gods, music and so on. As mentioned earlier, each region also had a mode or Pann, melodic instrument or Yazh and percussion instrument or Parai.
Instruments like Kuzhal (Flute), Yazh (Vina / Harp) and Muzhavu (percussion) seem to have been the accompaniments for both music and dance.

Many such references to music are found in Tamil treatises. But we are yet to find out as to how music was sung are played in those days. The earliest reference to this can be found in Tevarams. Thanks to the oduvar tradition, the tevarams are sung today as they were composed and sung by the "samaya kuravargal", Tirunyanasambandar , Manikkavasagar, Tirunavukkarasar and Sundaramurti nayanar. nyanasambandar is the youngest composer in the world. He composed his first hymn at the age of three. His first song is “Todudaiya seviyan” in the Pan Nattapadai. This corresponds to the raga “Gambhiranattai”, according to the pan research done by the Tamil Isai Sangam, Chennai. M.Arunachalam in his book “Musical Tradition of Tamil Nadu” mentions that Karaikkal Ammai has composed her “Mutta tiruppadigam” in Nattapadai and Indalam which are still sung in those pans. Ammai’s padigams are sung in praise of the Lord of Tirualangadu (sivan).

We certainly get authentic musical settings from Tevaram 7th to 8th century. This is possible due to the othuvar tradition, which is still prevalent. “Othutal”, in Tamil language means telling in the ear. Tevaram music is preserved because of teaching them and passing them on to the next generation. They were not notated and written. But it is a really rich legacy that is given to the generation that followed



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