There is a saying in Kuchipudi “Adi nata, antya Suruti”, the dance drama begins in nata and concludes in surata ragas. This is a regular format of music in Kuchipudi.
The Kuchipudi dance-drama form follows the rules regarding the performances laid down in the Natyashastra and other texts. In oral tradition some of the principles, rules and conventions of classical Sanskrit drama are found existing in the exposition ofmusic for the dance-drama. Sanskrit drama arose as part of the festival of Indra's flag-staff. A lot of ceremony and propitiatory acts marked its beginning. All these preliminaries were referred to as Purvaranga, literally the performance acts. The fifth chapter of Bharata's Natyashastra treats two varieties of Purvaranga viz. chitra and shuddha and several anga-s which are of a technical nature.
The traditional prayer in praise of Goddess Tripurasundari, and prayer for the guru, the guru prarthana are recited followed by nandistotra by the Sutradhara, who holds a curved stick known as kutilaka.
The music is in two different tempos in rhythms of four and seven
It has a mythological reference. It is said that Lord Brahma gave it to Bharata. Sutradhara also wields cymbals, sings, delivers dialogues, impersonates the female role of Madhavi, the confidante to Satyabhama and also plays a role of vidushaka. He often carries the story further.He sometimes sings.
Though the tradition of carnatic music is one and the same through out southern part of India, there are some significant and peculiar and characteristic regional variations cultivated and developed by the people of the different regions.
The songs are those that come under what is called dhruva gana. In a Sanskrit drama,the main function of these songs is to supply whatever has not been expressly stated by the dramatist, Abhinavagupta says that these songs are called dhruva-s because they stabilise and form the firm basis of the production or their themes . Dhruva-s/ daru/ daruvu are of five kinds, according to their place and specific function. The first is the entrance, praveshiki dhruva/ daruwhich introduces the character entering on the stage. This is the salient feature of Kuchipudi dance-drama tradition. For example from Bhama Kalapam, in which Satyabhama enters on the stage behind the curtain held by two junior dancers with hands. The curtain is lowered and then removed.
A character may introduce himself or herself in the first person or third person. The first appearance of the characters with dance sequences set to entrance daru-s/ pravesha daru, form the high-light of the performances. Corresponding to the praveshiki dharu is the nishkrama dharu, -the exit, which communicates the departure of a character in the middle or end of an act. In between the dharu-s of entry and exit, while characters are in action with a scene or act, there are three dharuva-s—prasadiki, akshepiki and antara. Prasad is to burnish or reinforce a mood already introduced; akshepiki is used for switch to a changed mood or situation. Antara is sung when a gap or a mishap in the production is to be covered up. In Dhruvadhyaya Bharata deals exhaustively with this topic. Suffice to say that in Kuchipudi dance-drama tradition this convention is noticed as a link with the classical tradition. Dhruva-s announce or explain the respective characters, delight the hearts of the audience and establish the emotional continuity. The Kuchipudi Bhagavathatradition has made musicians specialize in these styles of singing. The “Daru”. Is an old musical form, having the musical sections – pallavi, Anu pallavi and charana. The main mood or theme is sringaara or love. The” Patra pravesha Daru “ (The character entry in Dance Dram) for example Hiranya Kashyapu entry in Prahalada charitha Operaisrendered in a powerful manner, here the Daru starts with a prelude of Ethu jathi(Beginning jathi)or conical notes recited musically in medium and quick tempos and then the Daru is sung. Daru is the main content of the music in Kuchipudi; it adapts Jaru style of singing in – medium and quick tempos. The usage of pure notes and phrases in quick tempo is the characteristic feature of the kuchipudi music. The kandarthamulu (a verse rendered musically by the character in a dance drama) and seesarthamulu,( which are rendered in verses in the beginning but sung to a rhythm at the end,) are peculiar to Andhra region. They are called seesartha , kandartha durus. Ahiri is most popular raga in the Kuchipudi style Operas. This is just one uniqueness to mention in rendering the music to kuchipudi style of dance one needs to make a proper study of this style of music for a correct and apt rendering and appreciating this peculiar style. The rhythmic structure of these Darus resembles the Kritis and some of them are composed in different speeds and gathis. The famous and most popular “Madhana Daru” in Anandha bhiravi composed in Vilamba Kaala and Adi Taala in the Sidhendra Maha Yogi’s Krishna parijatham- Bhama kalapam is a typical example of a Daru, The sections of which are sung in different ragas and different tempos .The Pallavi is composed in vilamba kala in Ananda Bhairavai and towards the end of it the sahitya becomes conspicuous in madyamaa and dhruta kalas. It consists of the words maguva, lalana, cheliya, sakhiya and these words are sung in al the three speeds, this particular feature adds color to the rhythmic and dance structure of the song.
They are also sung in different variations of rhythms like, tisra, chaturasra, Misra etc., the anu – pallavi is rendered in nata bhairavi and concludes in the raga madhyamavathi with the words “Ne Thala Lena O Yamma” (I cant bear the pangs of separation) in quick rhythmic tempo.