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Music of Telangana


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Music of Telangana

Music in Telangana comprises of Folk music and Carnatic music. Tollywood has its own special place among the common masses and film music in Telugu language too is very popular here. Let us delve deeper into various types of folk music, Carnatic music and Film music prevalent in Telangana.

Folk Music of Telangana

Main Exponents of Music in Telangana

Carnatic Music

Bhakta Ramadasu or Bhadrachala Ramadasu (also known as Kancherla Gopanna) was a devotee of Lord Rama in the 17th century and is considered to be an eminent composer of Carnatic music. He was also a vaggeyakara (composer, lyricist and singer of his own lyrics). Other major music composers include Tyagaraja and Kshetrayya.

Contemporary popular names in Carnatic music include names like Voleti Venkatesvarulu, Sripada Pinakapani, Mangalampalli Balamurlikrishna,Nedunuri Krishnamurthy, Nookala Chinna Satyanarayana, Srirangam Gopalaratnam, Latita and Haripriya, Dr. Pantula Rama, Manda Sudharani etc.

Folk music

Popular composer Anamacharya is believed to have written hundreds of folk songs in Telugu in the 14th century.

Tribes such as Dasari, Jangama, Chenchu, Baind and Kuruva have aided to propagate these folk songs as they keep moving from one place to place being gypsies.

Music composers like Pendyala Nageswara Rao, duo of R.Sudarshanam and R.Goverdhanam have contributed to films based on folklore and other mythological films.

Telugu Film Music

Telugu cinema is popular as 'Tollywood' and is centred in Hyderabad. You must visit Ramoji Film City whenever you visit Hyderabad. The Prasads IMAX in Hyderabad is one of the largest 3D IMAX screen in the world! If you consider the number of films produced annually, Telugu film industry is rated second in India.

Important composers in South Indian Cinema include names like Susarla Dakshinamurthi, Ogirala Ramachandra Rao, Tanguturi Suryakumari, Parupalli Ramakrishnaiah Pantulu, Pithapuram Nageswara Rao, Mangalampalli Balamurlikrishna etc.

S.P. Balasubramaniyam, P.Susheela, S. Janaki, Ghantasala, M.M. Keeravani, Ramesh Naidu etc. are singers who have sung for films.

Different Forms of Folk Music in Telangana

Diverse forms of folk music in Telangana are Oggukatha, Sarada Kala, suvvi paatalu etc. Folk songs may be sraamika or labour songs, women's songs, wedding songs, taala bhajans or chekka bhajans, ritualistic songs, moral songs and children's songs. These songs also include Haridasulu, Gangireddu laata, Pagati vesha gaalu, Komma dasarulu, rokati paatalu (wooden pestle songs), suvvi paatalu (songs while making butter from curd using churning-staff) and Tirugali paatalu (hand-mill songs). Suvvi paatalu is in the form of question-answer between two women e.g. mother-in-law and daughter-in-law.

Jatrain Telangana

Then, there are songs which are meant to be sung during religious Jatras or processions. Jatras include Sammakka- Sarakka jatara at Eturnaagaaram (Warangal district), Mahankali jataras (during Ashadham in Hyderabad district). Here is one such song -

Kondathalliki jatara seedham - nindu
manasutoo mokkulu eedham kallakapatam
porapochalu vadileese thalli mammu
rachchimchantu raramma.

Folk songs are consist of love songs, epic songs, Jangam kathas, Jamidika kathas, Baikani songs etc. In Andhra Pradesh, Burra Kathas are popular.

Music, rhythm and lyrics are given prime importance in folk songs. Villagers sing while working in the field and gain vigour. Some songs are devotional or philosophical too. The folk songs are a mirror to traditions and culture of Telangana. Mothers sing lullaby for their children to put them to sleep. One such song is --- Jo Atchutananda jojo mukunda-raara paramaananda Rama Govinda.

Folk songs are also sung when villagers desire to pray to their Gods for rains and while ploughing the fields and sowing seeds in order to reap a good harvest. For instance, this folk song is sung while sowing seeds in the field in Telangana -

Seetamma Sreelamulu - siluka rekka poolo
Saarellipovangaa - siluka rekka poolo
Sreelakshmi kondhandaa - siluka rekka poolo
Yemanni lepudu - siluka rekka poolo

Folk music is said to have had an impact on the State hood movement too as it helped people to come together during various cultural events and discussions. Let us learn more about some forms of Folk music in Telangana -


A few communities (such as Yadav and Kuruma Golla communities) in Telangana sing songs just like ballads. These may be in praise of Lord Shiva (also known as Mallikarjuna) or their own tribal Gods whom they worship. Oggukatha is a narration and dramatization of various stories of Gods such as Mallana, Beerappa and Yellamma. Traditional priests among Yadavs who perform marriage of Mallanna with Bhramaramba are known as 'Oggus'. Oggukatha comprises of a narrator and his chorus who aid in dramatization of lyrics. Oggukatha folk singer groups visit Komrelly Mallanna temple every year.

Sarada Kala

The story is narrated in the form of a song/ballad. The stringed instrument folk veena (also called sarada) is used in Sarada Kala.

Sraamika Songs

Sramika Songs

These are actually labour songs sung by various categories of workers - those working in the agricultural field, cart-pullers, industrial workers, stone crushers, construction workers etc. Work becomes a pleasure by singing folk songs and relaxes the tired mind and body.

In the fields, men and women are divided into two groups. They sing these melodious folk songs in a group. Here is an example of a folk song sung by labourers working in the agricultural field and invoking the rain God ---

Vaanallu kuravaali vaana devudaa -
vari chelu pandaali vaana devudaa.

There are some songs which denounce wrong social customs prevalent in the society. One such song composed by Annamayya is 'Tandanana ahi tandanana' where he has condemned social evils like caste and discrimination on the basis of colour. The lyrics are so simple that they can be easily understood even by illiterate people and serve to enlighten and educate the masses. 

Musical instruments used with Folk Songs in Telangana

Musical instruments may be percussion instruments, wind instruments or stringed ones. Musical instruments used by singers and performers while rendering folk music (always in a group) are folk veena (also known as sarada), tribal flute, metallic cymbals, dholak, tribal shehnai, daph, conch, bells, gummetas, brahma taal, titti, kommu, chirutalu which is a type of kartaal, jamidika, veeranam, andelu, dhamru and ghungroos etc.

Music of Telangana

Tribes residing in Telangana have their own different festivals and tribal songs. These songs help them all to bond together during happiness (marriage and festivals) or in sorrow (death of any member). These singing sessions are a way of entertainment and relaxation too.

The introductory part of a folk song is known as 'pallavi' and 'charanams' are the continuation of the song content. Charanams may be contrasting in nature. For instance, while singing, men and women form into two separate groups singing in the form of question and answers. One group sends the question while the other group sings to answer the question! This becomes really enjoyable and entertaining.

Folk songs are based on raagas such as Bouli, Mohana, Bhupala, Neelambari, Janjhuti, Anandabhairavi etc. These songs are based on taalas like Aadi, khanda, eka, misra, rupaka etc.

Musical Festival in Telangana

Annual Music Festivals Organized in Hyderabad, Telangana

Pandit Motiram Pandit Maniram Sangeet Samaroh

This annual music festival is held at chowmahalla Palace in Hyderabad. The festival is organized by Pandit jasraj in honour of his guru and father and elder brother --- both gifted musicians. It is organized on 30th November every year.

Kalasagaram Annual Cultural Festival of Music

Kalasagaram Annual Cultural Festival of music, dance and drama is held annually at Keyes High School in Secunderabad. It aims at introducing young, talented musicians and was started in the year 1967.

Deccan Festival

The Deccan festival is another annual festival organized from 25th February to 1st March. The venue is Qutub Shahi tombs in Hyderabad. The highlight of the festival is ghazals, qawalis, mushiaras (poetry session) etc. along with food stalls catering to exotic and mouth watering Hyderabadi dishes! This festival is organized by Tourism Department Corporation.

SOVA Music Festival and Astra Music festival (for lovers of electronic dance and music, rocking beats!) are some more festivals organized in Hyderabad.

Folk music in Telangana has been continuing since olden days. The songs convey morals that are relevant even today. These songs are inspiring and give you a peep into the ancient culture of the state. If you desire to know more about Telanagana, just listen to its folk songs (devotional, mythological and love songs), film songs and Classic Carnatic music. Just like the green and beautiful state of Telangana, the music of Telangana too will enrich you and make your life happier!

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