Musical Notes in Classical Dance

Published: 06th February 2016 05:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th February 2016 05:11 AM   |  A+A-

As I have been writing on the dance performances, I used to wonder, as to what is the musical content of Bharathanatyam. We are  aware, no song is taken up for abhinaya, unless it admits of intent ideas, capable of  being intelligently portrayed, through a series of  gestures.  And we understand,  to follow the sequences of abhinaya with  interest,one should know both the language of the gestures and the  bhava of the sahitya, of course, the padams of classical composers constitute a rich repertoire  in the sphere of dance.

NARAYANA.jpgJust as the music admits of the divisions, art music, operatic music, martial music and folk music, dance also admits of the divisions.  Art dance, sacred dance,  dance pertaining the nritya nataka and kuravanji nataka, martial dance and folk dance.  The sequence of  the types of the ragas, adhered to in a music concert, has its  parallel, in the sequence of items,  in a concert of Bharathanatyam.  Nritta, nritya and abhinaya, just as in art music, we experience gana, rasa or pure aesthetic joy and the applied music, other rasas, like devotion, love, heroism, disguise, wonder, in concerts of art dance,  “Natya rasa” or pure aesthetic joy, (pertaining to the realm of dance). 

The vocalists exercises practised in music, to  attain high technique in performance, have their parallel in the  ‘adavu jatis’ and other exercises, to attain the requisite technique and perfection in dancing.  The ragas used in dance musical forms are  all rakthi ragas, Ragas which have an  emotional appeal and not  ragas, which have as mere intellectual appeal,  ragas, capable of  evoking more than one rasa are generally used.  According to the  gradation of feeling, the composer resorts to the particular  Raga and emphasises particular phrases in it.  Taking an emotion like sorrow, for example, various gradations of this feeling can be  effectively portrayed by ragas like Punnegavarali, Nadanamkrilya Muhari and Ahiri etc., of the  musical forms used in Bharatanaytam the padams and pada  varnams, have independant musical values. 

Rhythm is the back bone  of all dancing, when abhinayam is performed for a sloka, vrittam or other verses, there is no rhythm as such.  The musical compositions sung in Bharathanatyam are not loaded with sangathis (variations) subtle nuances and excessive gamakas.  If these technical beauties are present there will be a detracting factor weaning our  attentions away from the dance. We should understand, corresponding to the ‘Sol fa’ syllables Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Da Ni, there are rhythmic ‘sol fa’ syllables in dance, and phrases of variegated beauty, are coined with these syllables and  dances are performed lending certain liveliness, the like of which is unknown in the music of most other civilisation.


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