Sopana Sangeetham – songs of the temple

For those who enjoy traditional Indian music, ‘Sopana Sangeetham’ is likely to remind them of popular songs set to Carnatic music ‘raagas’. However, the debates with regards to ‘Sopana Sangeetham’ being considered as a ‘type’ Carnatic music are never-ending.

Understanding Sopana Sangeetham

The word ‘Sopanam’ refers to the steps leading to the sanctum sanctorum of a temple. Hence, ‘Sopana Sangeetham’is – singing at the steps or adjacent to the steps of the temple.

This form of music is often accompanied by one or two instruments, especially the ‘edakka’.

The ‘edakka’ is a percussion instrument that resembles an hour-glass and is made of a tree-trunk that is one-and-a-half feet in length, four inches in circumference in the middle and six inches on sides.

The right and left heads that are fixed on the trunk are larger in diameter. A certain type of lacing is used to hold the heads to the trunk.

The soft covering on the heads enables the instrumentalist to produce sounds effectively. Only one of the heads are used while playing.

The instrument can produce different sounds at various sections, depending upon the way in which it is tapped used a stick. An expert can even play the seven keys notes on the instrument – namely – Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Da, Ni.

The ‘Jayadeva Kritis’ are one of the most popular songs presented during a Sopana Sangeetham recital.