Sopana Sangeetham is a an Indian classical music that was developed in temples of Kerala South India. The word Sopanam refers to the sacred steps of main shrine of a temple and Sangeetham refers to music. Music in Kerala has a long and rich history. Sopanam is religious in nature, and developed through singing invocatory songs at the Kalam of Kali, and later inside temples.Sopanam came to prominence in the wake of the increasing popularity of Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda or Ashtapadis.Sopanam is traditionally sung by men of the Marar and Pothuval community, who are Ambalavasi (semi-Brahmin) castes engaged to do it as their hereditary profession.
Sopana Sangeetham and People
Sopana Sangeetham is sung, typically employing plain notes, to the accompaniment of the small, glasshour-shaped ethnic drum called ‘edakka’ or idakka, besides the chengila or the handy metallic gong to sound the beats. Sopana sangeetham has its essential features born out of a happy blending of the Vedic, folk and tribal music of the region that’s now called Kerala. It has it set of distinct ragas like Puraneera, Indalam, Kanakurinhi, Sreekanti, Ghantaram and Samantamalahari, but has also a lot of ragas that are commonly used in the south Indian classical Carnatic music.
Sopana sangeetham shares at least one similarity with the north Indian classical Hindustani music in the sense that both have ragas prescribed for rendition during particular time of the day.The structure of the Sopanam music is believed to reflect the experience of the devotee in scaling the heights of devotion
Sopana sangeetham is traditionally taught by the family members to the next generation.The rendition style of Sopanam, though basically a temple art, also extends to providing audio accompaniment to traditional Kerala dance-dramas like Kathakali, Krishnanattam and Ashtapadiyattam besides as devotional music in Kalam pattu and dramatic music in Mudiyettu.