1st Edition

The Tamil Padam A Dance Music Genre of South India

By Matthew Harp Allen Copyright 2023
    448 Pages 44 B/W Illustrations
    by Jenny Stanford Publishing

    448 Pages 44 B/W Illustrations
    by Jenny Stanford Publishing

    This book is a study of the Bharata Natyam dance genre "padam" focusing on its patrons and composers and its formal structure, texts, and music. It examines the "rewriting" of South Indian dance and the decades-long debates over the classicization and ownership of South Indian music. The control over the representation of the arts is a subject that should resonate with scholars working in a wide variety of genres and across many countries. The study is diachronic (historical) and also synchronic (examining padams’ organizational structure as a system). Importantly, the text includes 30 Tamil language songs, minutely translated and annotated together with a documentation of their performance history in the 20th century. Classical and modern music composers and performers, ethnomusicologists, librettists, singers, choreographers, art historians, dancers, dance scholars, and dance teachers will find them useful in giving students a deep contextual understanding of Bharata Natyam. The book will find an enthusiastic readership with dance teachers who are actively training Bharata Natyam students. It will also attract a scholarly audience as an anthropological and historical study of an artistic form which has a high profile in South Asia and has become prominent in the growing fields of ethnomusicology, dance ethnography and "world dance."

    1. Introduction

    2. Two: Kings, Devotion, Patronage, Padams

    3. Padakkarars, Composers: Composition, Change, and Biography

    4. Sahityam, Texts: A System of Texts

    5. Sangitam, Music: Principle of Selection of Material

    6. Conclusion


    Matthew Harp Allen is Professor Emeritus of Music and Asian Studies at Wheaton College (Massachusetts, USA). He was a long-time student of South Indian vocal music with T. Viswanathan, with whom he co-authored Music in South India (Oxford University Press). He has written several articles on the social history of Bharata Natyam dance and the classicization of music in South India in the 20th century.