The Kathakali Soundscape

by Decoding Kathakali
The Kathakali Soundscape 03 Sep, 2021, 8:20PM to
12 Sep, 2021, 11:55PM (EDT)
Event past
Collaborator Nritya at Penn State Indian Classical Music Society of Vancouver First Edition Arts Soc for Indian Music & Arts Indian Fine Arts Academy of SD
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Kathakali music is resonant, high decibel, and highly rhythmic. It is a very distinctive and deliberately loud, high voltage sound. This film takes us into the heart of a Kathakali performance and we learn how stage musicians contribute to its making. For example, it is the singers who tell the story of the play verse by verse which the actors in turn interpret word for word through their mudras (hand gestures) and facial expressions. Typically, two musicians stand at the back of the performers. One plays a chenda, a cylindrical drum held vertically, played with curved sticks, and the other plays a maddalam held horizontally and played with the hands. They provide the bulk of the enveloping soundscape within which the action of the play unfolds. The idakka, is another hourglass-shaped drum played in a slightly more subdued and melodic intonation for female characters. The music accompanies the action, supplies the insistent rhythm, and emphasizes the mudras and dance steps. Two singers at the front of the stage have a gong and cymbals. Discover the many surprising nuances and facets of Kathakali music in this film.

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