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Mohini Mohan Patnaik orchestrating an Odissi music composition at Utkal Sangeet Natak Mahavidyalaya, Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

Odissi music (oṛiśī) is a genre of classical music in India originated from the eastern state of Odisha. Indian classical music has five significant branches: Avanti, Panchali, Odramagadhi, Hindustani and Carnatic. Of these, Odramagadhi exists in the form of Odissi music. Generally, Odissi is one of the classical dances of India performed with Odissi music. Odissi music was shaped during the time of Odiya poet Jayadeva, who composed lyrics meant to be sung. By the 11th century AD, folk music of Odisha in the form of Triswari, Chatuhswari, and Panchaswari was modified into the classical style. However, Odissi songs were written even before the Odia language developed. Odissi music has a rich legacy dating back to the 2nd century BCE, when king Kharavela, the ruler of Odisha (Kalinga), patronized this music and dance.[1]

Origin and historyEdit

Music of India
A Lady Playing the Tanpura, c. 1735 (Rajasthan)


Media and performance
Music awards
Music festivals
Music media
Nationalistic and patriotic songs
National anthemJana Gana Mana
Regional music

Ancient Odisha had a rich culture of music, which is substantiated by many archaeological excavation throughout Odisha. At Sankarjung in the Angul district, the initial spade work exposed the cultural stratum of the Chalcolitic period. From here, polished stone celts and hand-made pottery have been excavated. Some of the Celts are narrow but large in size. Thus they are described as Bar-celts. On the basis of bar-celts discovered in Sankarjung it could be argued that they were an earlier musical instrument in India.[2] There is historical evidence in the form of sculptural evidence, i.e. musical instruments, singing and dancing postures of damsels in the Ranigumpha Caves in Khandagiri and Udayagiri at Bhubaneswar.

Charya Geetika (poems of Buddhist literature), written between 7th to 12th century mostly by the poets of Odisha and Bengal, are connected with Tantric Buddhism. All India literature on music like Bharata Muni's Natya Shastra, written in 2nd to 4th century AD., referred to the Odra Magadhi style of music and dance, which belonged to Odisha. Similarly, Sangeeta Ratnakara also had a reference to the Odra Magadhi style of music.[3] There are certain texts on Odissi music which are authentic and authoritative, and are excellent indices to the development of the music. These are written in Sanskrit or Oriya and contain the characteristics of Odramagadhi, Ardhamagadhi, Udra Bhasa and Utkalika Bibhasa. These were Oriya Charyagitika by different Oriya Sidhacharyas in the 7th to 11th centuries, Gita Govinda by Sri Jayadeva in the 12th century, Sangita Sara by Hari Nayaka in the 14th century to 15th century, Rasavaridhi by Brundabana Dasa in the 15th century, Oriya Mahabharata by Sarala Dasa in the 15th century, Rasakallola by Dinakrushna Dasa in the 16th century, etc. Other books written in later years were Sangita Darpana, Sangita Kalpadruma, Sangitarnava Chandrika, Baidehisha Vilasha, etc. It proves that Odissi music is more ancient than its counterparts like Hindustani or Carnatic[1][clarification needed]

Even Mahari tradition and singing of Geeta-Govinda in the temple of Lord Jagannatha since the time of King Prataparudra Deva in the 15th century proves the rich tradition of Odissi. In the temples of Odisha of 7th and 13th century AD such as Parasuramesvara, Muktesvara, Lingaraja and Konarka, there are engravings depicting musical performances and dancing postures.

After the reign of Mukunda Deva in the 16th century AD., Odissi music suffered during the Maratha rule in Odisha during the 17th and 18th century AD. It also did not flourish during the British Raj.


Jayadeva, the saint-poet, the great composer and illustrious master of classical music, has immense contribution to Odissi music. During his time Odra-Magadhi style music got shaped and achieved its classical status. He indicated the classical ragas prevailing at that time in which these were to be sung. Prior to that there was the tradition of Chhanda which was simple in musical outline. From the 16th century onwards, treatises on music[4][5] were Sangitamava Chandrika, Gita Prakasha, Sangita Kalalata and Natya Manorama. A couple of treatise namely, Sangita Sarani and Sangi Narayana, were also written in the early path of the 19th century.

Odissi Sangita comprises four classes of music namely Dhruvapada, Chitrapada, Chitrakala and Panchal, described in the above-mentioned texts. The chief Odissi and Shokabaradi. Odissi Sangita (music) is a synthesis of four classes of music, i.e. Dhruvapada, Chitrapada, Chitrakala and Panchal, described in the above-mentioned texts. The Dhruvapada is the first line or lines to be sung repeatedly. Chitrapada means the arrangement of words in an alliterative style. The use of art in music is called Chitrakala. Kavisurya Baladeba Ratha, the renowned Oriya poet wrote lyrics, which are the best examples of Chitrakala. All of these were Chhanda (metrical section) contains the essence of Odissi music. The Chhandas were composed by combining Bhava (theme), Kala (time), and Swara (tune). The Chautisha represents the originality of Odissi style. All the thirty four (34) letters of the Oriya alphabet from 'Ka' to 'Ksha' are used chronologically at the beginning of each line.

A special feature of Odissi music is the padi which consists of words to be sung in Druta Tala (fast beat). Odissi music can be sung to different talas: Navatala (nine beats), Dashatala (ten beats) or Egaratala (eleven beats). Odissi ragas are different from the ragas of Hindustani and Karnataki classical music. The primary Odissi ragas are Kalyana, Nata, Shree Gowda, Baradi, Panchama, Dhanashri, Karnata, Bhairavee and Shokabaradi.

Odissi music is sung through Raganga, Bhabanga and Natyanga Dhrubapadanga followed by Champu, Chhanda, Chautisa, Pallabi, Bhajana, Janana, and Gita Govinda, which are considered to be a part of the repertoire of Odissi or an allied act form of Odissi.

Odissi music has codified grammars, which are presented with specified Raagas. It has also a distinctive rendition style. It is lyrical in its movement with wave-like ornamentation. The pace of singing in Odissi is not very fast nor too slow, and it maintains a proportional tempo which is very soothing.

The great exponents[4][5] of Odissi music in modern times are the Late Singhari Shyamasundara Kar, Markandeya Mahapatra, Kashinath Pujapanda, Balakrishna Das, Gopala Chandra Panda, Ramahari Das, Bhubaneswari Misra, Shymamani Devi and Sunanda Patnaik, who have achieved eminence in classical music.

Relation with other classical musicEdit

The percussion instrument played with Odissi music is the ‘Mardala’. Temple sculptures in Odisha abound in statues of ‘Mardala’ players. At one time the Kalinga Empire extended all the way up to the river Kaveri and incorporated major parts of Karnataka. King Purusottama Deva of Odisha conquered Kanchi and married the princess. There were many singers from South India in the courts of Odisha. The main singer of the compositions of Kavisurya was Rajamani, a Telugu weaver. The interaction between Odisha and South India led to the widespread singing of Jayadeva's Astapadis in South Odisha in typical Carnatic style of music. Some raagas specific to Odisha are "Desakhya", "Dhanasri", "Belabali", "Kamodi", "Baradi" etc. Additionally, some Odissi raagas bear the same names as Hindustani or Carnatic raagas, but have different note combinations. Furthermore, there are many raagas that have the same note combinations in Hindustani, Carnatic and Odissi styles, but are called by different names. Some examples are — Raaga "Durga" in Hindustani is the same as raaga "Sudha Saveri" in Carnatic style is the same as raaga "Kamodi" in Odissi style. In fact, the Hindustani raaga "Chandrakauns" could have developed from the Odissi raaga "Lalita". Each stream, however, has its own distinct style of rendition and tonal development despite the apparent similarity in scale.

Nature of Odissi music compositionEdit

A good Odissi music composition must have following characteristics, 1.Varitation of beat and pause. 2.Use of "gamaka" or "Andolana". 3."Matu" meaning lucid presentation of composition. 4.Efficient and pleasing expansion of the "Raaga" and "Geeta". 5.Lucid and Melodious rendering of "Taan". 6.Singing of special words and notes with novelty. 7.Avoiding repetition of same notes or compositions. 8.Every sentence rendered with its unique quality, beautification and melody.

Odissi music in modern timeEdit

The great exponents[4][5] of Odissi music in modern times are the Late Singhari Shyamasundara Kar, Markandeya Mahapatra, Kashinath Pujapanda, Balakrishana Das, Bhubaneswari Misra, Shymamani Devi, Gopal Panda, Padmashree Raghunath Panigrahi, Ramahari Das, Laxmikanta Palit and Sunanda Patnaik, who have achieved eminence in classical music.

In order to popularize the Odissi music the State Government's Culture Department has undertaken a massive programme named 'Odissi Sandhya' to be performed in all major cities of the country. The programme is being executed through Guru Kelu Charan Mohapatra Odissi Research Centre in association with different cultural organizations located in different parts of the country, like Central Sangeet Natak Academy, Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre, Kolkata, and Prachhin Kalakendra, Chandigarh. Programmes held at Chandigarh and New Delhi have already started creating a mild sensation among the music lovers of the country.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b (PDF) Archived from the original (PDF) on April 10, 2009. Retrieved February 7, 2010. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ [1] Archived October 29, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ [2][dead link]
  4. ^ a b c "Culture Department". Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  5. ^ a b c "Orissa Dance & Music". Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  6. ^ "Orissa's new name is Odisha". The Times of India. 2011-03-24. Retrieved 2012-05-26.

External linksEdit