Kalinga Narthana Thillana: an experiment in rhythm and language

Beautiful lyrics

Nikhil, etc.

I’ve written about thillanas before–they’re a type of Carnatic composition, usually performed as upbeat, fast-paced pieces near the end of a concert or dance performance. There’s something very playful and energetic about this thillana, and I’ve been listening to it many, many times in the past few days. It’s a great example of the rhythmic complexity of Carnatic music.

“Kalinga narthana” literally means “Kalinga dance” in Sanskrit, and it refers to a popular mythological story in which the god Krishna, as a young boy, danced on the serpent Kaliya (aka Kalinga) to stop him from poisoning the Yamuna river. You can read more about it here.

From a very informative introduction given by Dr. U. R. Giridharan:

“Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer (popularly known as Oothukadu Venkata Kavi) was born in the early 18th century in the village of Oothukadu, in the Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu. He was a devotee of…

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