Temple Instruments

Although these temple instruments were definitely rhythmical in character, it is interesting to note that the rhythm of the melody was largely dependent on the innate rhythm of the words sung, for the content and the spirit of the words dominated the music.

Vadhyakala are the basics of temple performing arts of Kerala. It uses various instruments including chenda, madhalam, idakka, thimala, thalam, eena, Udukku, Villu, and Pulluvakkudam. The chenda is mainly played as an accompaniment in the hindu religious art forms of Kerala. The chenda is used as an accompaniment for Kathakali, Koodiyattam, Kannyar Kali and among many forms of dances and rituals in Kerala.
Panchavadyam, literally meaning an orchestra of five instruments, is basically a temple art form that has evolved in kerala. Of the five instruments, four — timila, maddalam, ilathalam and idakka — belong to the percussion category, while the fifth, kombu, is a wind instrument. Much like any chenda melam, panchavadyam is characterised by a pyramid-like rhythmic structure with a constantly increasing tempo coupled with a proportional decrease in the number of beats in cycles. However, in contrast to a chenda melam, panchavadyam uses different instruments (though ilathalam and kompu are common to both), is not related very closely to any temple ritual and, most importantly, permits a lot of personal improvisation while filling up the rhythmic beats on the timila, maddalam and idakka.
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