(Last Updated on : 07/07/2010)
Music in Ravana Chhaya comprises one of the most important elements in the performance of this theatre art form. In fact the soul of a Ravana Chhaya performance is its music. The style of music used in the Ravana Chhaya performance is a blend of the folk and classical Odissi traditions. The lyrics of the Vichitra Ramayana of Viswanath Khuntia are extremely popular in the rural parts of the state of Orissa
. Most of the villagers know quite a few of them by heart and sing them to popular traditional tunes. Ravana Chhaya follows this traditional style in singing the lyrics from Vichitra Ramayana although some of them carry the author's indication to sing in a particular raaga and tala of the Odissi School of music. The singing style has some similarity with that of Pala Gaana and Daskathia, two forms of dramatic balladry. Pala Gaana is a rather sophisticated singing style, both in terms of content as well as form. The Khanjani and the Daksathi provide the percussive accompaniment to the vocal music.
The Khanjani is a single-faced membranophone. The resonator-frame is made of a wooden ring of about 6 inches diameter at the outer face to which the parchment is fixed and about 4 inches inner diameter depth of about 2 to 3 inches. The frame has two to four pairs of jingle-plates. The parchment is made of the skin of the godhi, a kind of reptile similar to the iguana. Khanjani is held by the frame with the left hand and is played with the four fingers of the right hand. It is an extremely popular percussive instrument in rural Orissa. There is a form of folksong named Khanjani Geeta which is generally devotional in character.
The Daksathi is a type of wooden idiophone of the castanet variety. Two pieces of wood are held in the left hand, the fore-finger placed in between. Sound is produced by striking alternately on it with the base of the thumb and the closely joined fingers of the right hand. This idiophone is capable of producing rhythmic patterns of amazing variety and in a very fast tempo. The percussive music produced by it is so popular in rural Orissa that a highly interesting form of balladry known as Daskathia has been named after it.
Thus the music in Ravana Chhaya is essentially an execution of the lyrics of the Vichitra Ramayana sung to the tunes of either folk or Classical Odissi traditional music.
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