Dictionary of Theory
The Dictionary of Theory covers terms relevant to Odia music and literature. Terms pertaining to dance are so far not included but hopefully will be at some later date. The terms are alphabetized according to English.
A known melody to which a poem can be sung. The name of a bāṇī
—i.e., the name of an earlier well-known composition—may appear at the beginning of a poem along with, or lieu of, a rāga
name. Also see br̥tta
. Alternatively, bāṇī
may refer to the basic structure of a tāḷa
(similar to a ṭheka
in Hindustani music).
A style of Odissi music performance in which expression of the sentiment of the song text (bhāba
) is primary. Extensive improvisation is avoided and purity of rāga
is a lesser consideration.
A term for meter in Sanskrit, in premodern Odia literature it was possibly equivalent to bāṇī
. Some br̥tta
s are named with earlier compositions, as with bāṇī
s, while others appear to have rāga
A literary genre in which prose alternates with verse. In Odisha, campūs were composed in Sanskrit prior to the 19th century. Kabisūrẏya Baḷadeba Ratha’s Kiśoracandrānanda Campū of the early 19th century was a Sanskrit campū combined with Odia songs. Under the influence of this popular composition, a few Odia campūs were composed in the late 19th century and after.
A short poetic composition, usually with four to seven verses, with or without a refrain. The subject matter is usually Rādhā-Kr̥ṣṇa or courtly love.
A poem of thirty-four lines or verses. Each line/verse begins with a different consonant, arranged alphabetically (from k to kṣ). Substitutes are used for letters that rarely or never appear at word-beginnings. The full order, which differs somewhat from the modern Odia alphabet, is as follows: k, kh, g, gh, ṅ (n or a vowel is susbsituted), c, ch (kṣ may be additionally used), j, jh, ñ (n or a vowel is subtituted), ṭ, ṭh, ḍ, ḍh, ṇ (n or a vowel is substituted), t, th, d, dh, n, p, ph, b, bh, m, ẏ (j or y may be used), r, l, b, ś, s, ṣ (the three sibilants may be substituted for each other), h, kṣ (ch may be additionally used). Subject matter is highly variable.
Meter. Premodern Odia meters are almost always based on syllable counts where all syllables are counted equally.
A section (canto) of a kābya
or a single poem composed in that form, i.e., as a series of many verses with no refrain.
The refrain of a song, also denoting permanence. Also see ghoṣā
An apparently obsolete style of music performance. A style of slow devotional/praise singing similar to dhrupad in North India.
Prose. Opposed to padya
A general term for song or any literary composition that can be sung.
A long narrative poem divided into several sections (chānda
s). Subject matter may derive from tales of gods and goddesses, historical incidents, or idealized court life.
Poems in which a character addresses a cuckoo (koili). Often these are laments, as in Keśaba Koili (15th century), in which Yaṣodā laments Kr̥ṣṇa’s departure to Mathurā.
A style of Odissi music performance that accompanies dance; emphasis on rhythm.
A verse or stanza of a poem. Also sometimes used to label the refrain (see dhruba
A line of a stanza.
Improvisation/variation of melody using a section of song text.
Verse, i.e., a metrical utterance. Opposed to gadya
Sub-refrain. The refrains of some caupadī
s may include a paṛi
. This section is performed with greater rhythmic density than other sections.
This term has two relevant theoretical meanings. First, it can refer to a melodic entity as defined by Sanskrit music treatises (saṅgīta-śāstra
s). This meaning is attested in both the Sanskrit music treatises composed in Odisha from the 15th century, as well as in Odia literature from that time on. In this sense rāga
refers to a configuration of pitch and intevallic material, along with certain rules and associations, which allows for the creation of melody. Second, rāga
can refer to poetic meter. Perhaps the first clear use of rāga
in this way is in the 18th-century Baḷabodhinī
by Sadānanda Kabisūrẏya Brahmā, which assigns particular syllable counts and caesura patterns to traditional rāga
names (as well as bāṇī
s and br̥tta
s). This understanding of rāga
continued into the 20th century, as seen in texts like Kuḷamaṇi Dāsa’s Aḷaṅkāra Taraṅgiṇī
(1929) but seems to have been largely displaced by the use of rāga
in the first sense (more on this issue
). Also see “Guide to Rāga
A style of Odissi music performance focused on the elaboration of a rāga
A type of rāga
derived from another rāga
. Traditionally there were thirty-six rāgiṇī
s, derived from six main rāga
s. Alternatively this can refer to a poetic meter; see rāga
A general term for music or song.
s in the melodic sense consist of a configuration of swara
s, which may be very loosely translated as “pitch” or “note” (though these do not capture the flexibility of the swara
or its spiritual/emotional connotations). More broadly, swara
may also refer to sound or melody/tune.
Improvisation/variation of melody using swara
The rhythmic-metrical cycle in music. A tāḷa
name may appear along with a rāga
name at the beginning of song texts. There are several tāḷa
s used in Odia/Odissi music. These have changed over time and there is variation among performers. See “Guide to Tāḷa