Folk Songs of Andhra Pradesh
- According to A. Anuradha, Coordinator, Dept. of Music, Andhra University, Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) – “India Folk music is one of the ancient forms of the cultural heritage of India. ‘Every part of India has its own culture and traditions, developed according to the taste of the people of that particular part. Thus, the combination of singing songs, instruments and dance is called as ‘Desi music’.”
Folk Songs of Andhra Pradesh
- Andhra Pradesh is rich in traditional folk art forms, which have provided popular entertainment for the common folk, imparting instruction, while providing entertainment, alongside classical forms of dance and drama for a considerable period in history.
- Folk songs also deal with pathetic, mournful, philosophical and jovial contents
- The folk performing arts had filled an important lacuna in the otherwise mundane lives of the people.
- There are songs sung by various labourers while working, songs by ladies while reaping the corn, harvesting and even pounding the rice. Then there, are a large variety of songs sung during marriages; almost for every ritual in marriage is celebrated through song.
Musical Instruments used during singing
- Music is an important component of the performing arts like dance and drama, and of rituals. Each community has its own style of music and tradition of songs.
- There are essentially two ways to make music:
- With the human voice
- With an instrument.
- The musical instruments are classified on the basis of the scientific principle used to create the sound they make. They are briefly described below.
- Percussion Instruments: These instruments are struck to produce sound. Often these are used to produce the taal or beat and do not produce all the musical note or cymbals.
- Wind Instruments: These need air to flow through them to produce soundóbansuri or flute.
- String Instruments: These are instruments that use one or many tightly tied strings that when struck vibrate to create soundóthe veena or ektara.
- Drums: A drum is made of a membrane stretched across a hollow frame and played by striking ó the dholak or mridangam.
Various folk song of Andra Pradesh
- Jangam Katha is one of the earliest folk ballad forms prevalent in Andhra making use of several desi (local) metres. ‘
- Jangams’ are staunch Veera Saiva followers and belong to the saivite cult ever since it became prominent in Andhra in about AD 1200.
- Oggu Katha derives its name from the inspiring “Damarukam”, called Oggu, which initiates the stories sung by the ballad singers.
- Several Saiva stories are in the repertoire of the Oggus, though others not connected with Saivism are also sung.
- Kinnera Katha is a folk ballad form narrated by ‘Dakkala’ community in Telangana to the supplement of a string instrument called ‘Kinnera’. It has usually seven notes and so is called “Edumetia Kinnera.
- They narrate short ballads, especially on those whose exploits have attained a heroic nature.
- “Kinnera” is a musical instrument made out of a bamboo pipe, measuring one meter in length.
- Three dried gourds are fixed to one end of the bamboo pipe through wooden pegs. Gonds and Thoti narrates Pandavulu Katha.
- They narrate the story of the Mahabharata in 40 nights to the accompaniment of a Dande (a Kinnera or Ektara) and a Maddela. The main narrator plays the dande while singing.
- ‘Golla Suddulu’ are accompanied by a drum and a horn. These ‘gollas’ also participate in reciting a long verse (Dandakam) on religious occasions and offer sacrifices during ritual ceremonies (bonalu).
Sraamika or labour songs:
- These are known as songs sung by different categories of workers while doing their work, such as cart-pullers, industrial workers, stone crushers, construction workers, and workers busy in laying roads, building bridges and dams.
- They find enjoyment in their work and do not feel it a burden.
- These are habitually rendered by women in the houses while attending to the daily chores.
- These songs have been in continuation, for thousands of years.
- It is learnt that a eminent composer Anamacharya wrote hundreds of folk songs in Telugu during the 14th century.
- These songs are very popular in every part of Andhra Pradesh.
- Rokati paatalu (wooden pestle songs), Tirugali paatalu (hand-mill songs), songs while making butter from the curd by by means of churning-staff etc.
- The songs sung by the mothers, to their children to sleep or persuade them when they are afraid of something or the other is innumerable and each one of them has a very good lyrical value.
- The song “Jo atchutananda jojo mukunda-raara paramaananda Rama Govinda” is one of such examples, and it is long-lasting as a mother’s lullaby traditionally sung in a soft raga Nilambari in Khanda Chapu taala.
- This is also a song of Annamacharya, and is a master piece of the composer sung for centuries till today.
- Similar to above song, there are two more songs, “Ramalali megha shyamalali – taamarasa nayana – Dasaradha tanaya lali”. These are very famous lullabies in Andhra, traditionally sung over centuries.
Songs by Children:
- Village children are the centre of magnetism during the village festivals and other occasions.
- Even two-three year old children sing with their tender and sweet voices in Telugu.
- The songs like, “Chitti chilakamma, Udataa udataa hooth” etc, are fashionable in Andhra, for over many years.
- They are very rhythmic in interpretation and the dance carried out to these songs is eye-catching.
- During winter especially in January, the villagers, as it is the end of their agricultural toil they harvest their crops and get money from it.
- They celebrate the major festival of the year ‘Pongal’ for three days in a impressive manner.
- A month from mid-December to mid-January is called Dhanurmasam, which is deemed as very holy.
- During Pogal time many types of folk art forms are performed by the young girls, like Gobbillu, Bommala koluvulu (exhibition of dolls, toys etc.).
- Girls generally make designs called Rangoli with flour in the front-yard of the house.
- A popular song on Gobbillu is-
Gobbiyyallo – Gobbiyyallu – Sankranti
Pandagocchhe – Gobbiyyallu.
- The folk music at the time of marriages, everyone will try to make a unique event by participating in dancing and singing.
- A great diversity of songs is rendered at different events that take place in the wedding and marriage ceremonies.
- There are different occasions and events in a wedding when different songs are sung from ‘engagement to sending the bride to the mother-in-law’s house.
- Usually, folk people compare the Bride groom and Bride to Lord Rama and Sita, who are the role models to Indians. This is the only reason why many of the marriage songs are on Rama and Sita.
Philosophical (Vedaanta and Vairagya) songs:
- Devotional and religious content delivering good messages to the society is rendered by many in folk music.
- There are several philosophical songs known as ‘Tattvaalu’, repeatedly sung in the villages of Andhra Pradesh.
- There are hundreds of songs on Ramayana, Bharata and Bhaagavata in folk style.
- Below is an example of a traditional folk song related to the epic Bhagavata.
- The content is complaints made by the gopikas against Krishna in his early childhood about his naughty activities.
O Yasoda yemi seyudune – nee koduku dudukulaku
- Several quixotic or love songs are also popular in folk songs of Andhra Pradesh. A popular example of such songs is-
Mokka jonna thotalo musina cheekatlalo
Manche kaada kalusuko maruvaku maamayya.
- In this song, a young girl invites her friends to the maize fields to meet her at dusk and demands that he should not forget her invitation.
- It is the verbal discussion between two people, set in a folklore way.
- The conversation is in the form of a song and it may be between the mother-daughter or wife and husband or mother- in-law and daughter- in-law or between lovers or between friends. For example, a conversational song between a young couple of Andhra-
Male: Rupai kaavaalaa- rupai sillara kaavaala
Female: Roopu rekaa sallangunte rupai yenduku rupai sillara yendoku.
- In this song, the lady expresses as like ‘the love and affection for her husband is more than money’. This is a best example for their simple way of living.
Tribal Songs and Kathas
- Many tribes like Chenchu, Dasari, Baind, Jangama, Kuruva and others propagate Folk songs. More importance is given to folk songs or their expression than the dance component.
- There is always a main singer supported by two or three chorus singers.
- In the olden days Tambura or Tuntuni or Ektaar was the main drone Instrument.
- Sometimes it is also accompanied by Harmonium and a drum to provide rhythm to song. In some parts of Andhra Clarinet is played instead of Harmonium.
- Budige jangam kathas, Oggu kathas, Jangam Kathas, Burra Katha, Jamukula kathas, Golla Suddulu, Kommu people, etc are some amazing story telling ways, in Telugu literature in the form of songs. The performers are generally in three or four in number.
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