Natalie Savelyeva

Section 1. Evolution of Varnam

The term “varna” figures in very early treatises on drama and music (starting from about 1 century AD.) The term was used by ancient authors to describe melodic movements of the songs.

The wide class of compositions used in music and dance performances of ancient and early medieval period is referred to as "Prabandha.” Numerous compositions employed in medieval period were developed based on Prabandhas including another wide class named "Daru" which was employed in medieval Natakas (such as Bhagavata Mela and Yakshagana.) Tradition of those Natakas influenced development of the court repertoire of Sadir-attam.

During medieval period, the format of music and dance performances underwent considerable transformation. New compositions such as Padam, Svarajati and Varnam, Javali, Tillana were introduced into Sadir repertoire during 17-18 century AD.

Since 18th century onwards, Varnam took central place in dance in dance Margam invented by Tanjore Brothers.

The history of emergence of Varnam in music, incorporation of Varnam into dance dramas and further on into court kutcheris of Sadir, will be considered in detail in the following section.

This Section comprises three chapters and concluding part,

  1. Chapter 1. Meaning of the term Varna
  2. Chapter 2. Early Composers of Svarajatis and Varnas
  3. Chapter 3. Introduction of Varnam and Svarajati into Dance
  4. Conclusion. Theories Regarding Emergence of Svarajati and Varna