Music from India
Asthapadi, Bengali love poem by Raghavan Kurup
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RK DAT 24
At the rear site of the Sri Krishna temple, Chemmanadu, near Chottanikkara, Central Kerala, Kerala
Raghavan Kurup (singer, male), Subash Narayana Marar (idakka drum)
Mr. Raghavan Kurup (deceased), supported by Subash Narayana Marar on the idakka drum, sings the first part of an ‘asthapadi’ starting with the line ‘srithakamala kuja mandala’ and uses the chempada thalam (8 beats). The slokam preceeding the asthapadi starts with ‘vedanuddharathe’ exclaiming the ten incarnations of Krishna (Vishnu). Asthapadi (eight stanzas) is a Bengali love poem originally written in Sanskrit and generally known as Gita Govinda. This poem describes the amorous adventures of the legendary couple Krishna and Radha. Generally the performance of ashtapadi is regarded a part of the Malayalee vocal genre Sopanam Sangeetam. Raghavan Kurup distinguishes between both; the reason might be that only Asthapadi is rendered in Sanskrit while all other Sopanam songs are sung using the south Indian language Malayalam. Musical style and rhythm structures of both genres are the same. Ragavna Kurup plays the cennala percussion plaque and is the lead singer, and Subash sings and plays the idakka drum. Ragavan was a well-known Sangeeta Sopanam singer from the town Vaikom in south Kerala. Subash Narayana Marar is the disciple of Ragava Kurup and the son of the late pancavadyam bandleader Chottanikkara Narayana Marar from Chottanikara. The ‘cennala’ here is actually one of the ilatalam cymbals struck with a wooden drumstick. The idakka drum has an hourglass-shaped body while the drumstick used is thin and held in the right hand. By using the left hand to vary the pressure on the lacing tensioning the two heads. A skilled artist can produce a range of nearly two octaves from the drum.