The ragas employed in these Darus contain the “Prayogas” (the nuances of the raga) specially peculiar and characteristic of the Andhra region. Pure notes are generally employed and phrases are rendered in quick tempo. Prayogas like PADA NISA in Mukari and GA MA PA – MA PANI – PA NI SA NI PA MA in Ananda Bhairavi without gamaka are unique to the style of music. Ahiri is sung with kakali nishada and chatu sruti dhaivata prayogas and create an impression that it is derived from surya kantha mela.

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The music that is prominent in the operas/ yakshgaana of Kuchipudi apart from Darus are Shabdams. Shabdams are smaller dances included in the big operas bringing out the stories from the bhagavatha and ramayana; they are same as the sabdam of Bharatanatyam style. It is normally a composition with the words interspersed with jatis of mrudangam sung in medium and quick tempos. The dasa avatara sabdam and Krishnasabdam, both composed in raga mohana and manduka sabdam in kambhoji are quite popular. They are generally composed in the Adi, rupaka, jhampa and triputa taalas. The most well known are the Ramayana shabdam, ulupi shabdam. The rhythm changes are very peculiar in rendering these shabdhams as they change from chathurashra (4beats) to Mishra (7 beats) to make the compositions very dramatic. In order to make a better impact sometimes the tempo is increased without any relation to the original tempo that began in the song. The main ragas are mohana, Ananda Bhiravi, Mukhari, DevaGandhari, Yadukula kambhoji, madhyamavathy, Nata, suruti. Some rare ragas are also used like kuranji, Ahiri, Saindhavi, Navaroju and Sokavarali.

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One more important aspect of Kuchipudi is the “Tharangam” which form a part of dance drama, though not connected with the theme of the play. They are rendered with mnemonics(to mix and match lyrics) and a cluster of syllables which are suited to dance, which are often found at the end of the tharangam. ‘Tharangam ‘the pot and plate dance, as its popularly known today is the ‘de rigour’ in a solo performance. The ragas are interchanged and the rhythm patterns change as ‘gathi Bedas’, and dancers indulge in repartees with the percussionists.

During the past 3 decades gurus like Dr Korada Narasimha rao and Dr Vempati Chinna satyam have introduced Hindustani ragas in dance dramas like Hara Vilasam and other operas. With solo performances slowly emerging and replacing the long dance dramas in Kuchipudi, nritta numbers like the jathiswaram, thillanas and the Hindi bajans, vachanas and compositions of poets and saints brought in a new dimension to Kuchipudi music. The earliest known introduction of other language songs is Song, Gopala Karuna Kyu- nahi Ayae,” sung by the late ustad Abdul karim Khan, Available on the gramophone record in 1950’s.

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Apart from this the Compositions that are generally prevalent in Kuchipudi are the poetic pieces, sung as musical compositions like the asthapadis, tharangams, javalis and padams of kshetragna, which were a part of dance dramas at relevant intervals, have been taken and designed to suit the solo performances today. With these unique characteristics in the musical content whichadheres strictly to the tradition of Carnatic music has been popular in Kuchipudi repertoire /yakshgaana / operas and have come to be appreciated all over India. This oldest type of music tradition and dance has stood the test of time inspite of many hurdles and crtisicim. Kuchipudi music today occupies a special place as one of the richest and most ancient dance tradition of our country.

Inputs from late sri B.V.K.Shastry.
Reference from Kuchipudi by Dr Sunil Kothari.

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