With a charming and colorful music encompassing several streams, the heavenly state of Odisha (Orissa) unfurls many vistas of an array of dance forms and musical styles. Flourishing for ages, the rare dance forms of the state such as Odissi and Chhau are famous all over the world.
A number of folk traditions also lend a captive presence to it. The figures of musicians carved on ancient temple walls speak of Odisha (Orissa)'s rich musical heritage. It was 11th Century AD that the folk music of Odisha (Orissa) that still exists in the form of Triswari, Chatuhswari, and Panchaswari was only modified into the classical form.
Thus Oriya music is a classical form consisting of all the necessary ingredients common to Hindustani and Karnataki music, such as rags and talas. It is a synthesis of four classes of music namely dhruvapada, chitrapada, chitrakala and panchal. The dhruvapada is the first line or lines to be sung repeatedly. Chitrakala is the name given to the use of art in music. Kavisurya Baladeva Rath, the renowned Oriya poet wrote lyrics which are the best examples of chitrakala. Then Chitrapada is the arrangement of words in an alliterative style. All these combine to form the style peculiar to Odissi music. Chhanda (metrical section) contains the essence of Odissi music. The chhandas were composed combining bhava (theme), kala (time), and swara (tune).
Another special feature of Odissi music is the padi, which consists of words to be sung in druta tala (fast beat). Odissi music can be sung in different talas namely navatala (nine beats), dashatala(ten beats) or egar tala (eleven beats) as Odissi ragas are different from the ragas of Hindustani and Karnataki music. The chief Odissi ragas are Kalyana, Nata, Shree Gowda, Baradi, Panchama, Dhanashri, Karnata, Bhairavee and Shokabaradi.
There were saint-poets of Odisha (Orissa) who composed lyrical poems to be sung. Bards usually went from place to place singing these songs that were meant to propagate religious ideas in various religious. Instructions were usually given by the poet himself as to how the lyric was to be sung, i.e. the raga or tune to be employed and the tala or beat scheme to be followed. Jayadeva was the first Oriya poet who composed lyrics to be sung. In addition he also indicated the contemporary classical ragas in which these were to be sung. Prior to this there was the tradition of chhandas that were simple in musical outline.
From the 16th century onwards Treatises on music were written or compiled in Odisha (Orissa). They were Sangitamava Chandrika, Gita Prakasha, Sangita Kalalata and Natya Manorama. Two treatises namely, Sangita Sarani and Sangita Narayana were also written in the early 19th century.