Tala Maddale (tALa maddaLe) (ತಾಳ ಮದ್ದಳೆ) is an offshoot of Yakshagaana the popular theatrical art form of coastal Karnataka, Malnaad and some parts of Kerala. It is also known as ‘kooTa’ (ಕೂಟ), baiThak, (ಬೈಠಕ್) prasanga, (ಪ್ರಸಂಗ) Odike(ಓದಿಕೆ) and ‘jAgara’. (ಜಾಗರ) To put it briefly Tala Maddale, is Yakshagana sans its visual components. Of course there are some minor variations.
As the name suggests, tALa (cymbals) and maddaLe (drum)
are the main instruments that provide the back ground music for this
performance. Chande (canDe) is other percussion instrument which is used very
sparingly. Tala Maddale is an ancient art. Shivarama Karantha has found a
mention of this art in an inscription installed in Kuragod (kuragODu) town in
Talamaddale is an art form that is dependent on the erudition and innovative nature of the practicing artists. Activities such as dancing and acting recede to the background. Costumes are conspicuous by their absence. The artists are called ‘arthadhari’s. Bhaagavatha’ is the one who renders the songs. Actually his role is marginalised in talamaddale when compared to the Yakshagana. Instrumental background is provided by others who are called ‘himmELa’.
Talamaddale begins with the instrumental score and artists take over then onwards. These performances do not have a pre determined text. The general out line of the story is known universally and the arthadhaaris have their own inventive and innovative ways of creating the text for every performance. Consequently each Talamaddale is some thing new, even when the same artists are performing. Wit and wisdom of the artists play a dominant role and they hold a magnetic attraction for the audience. Mythological episodes are renewed so as to suit the contemporary situations. The arguments are highly nuanced and the entire performance is as intellectual as it is artistic.
Talamaddale begins with the traditional Ganesha Stuti. Other gods too are invoked occasionally. ‘sabhaalakshaNa’ and ‘pUrvapITike’ are omitted in talamaddale. The roles will have been distributed well in advance. An introduction is given by the Bhagavata and then the characters develop the storyline. Not only the dialogues, but also the songs and music are flexible. Most of the stories are based on traditional epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata. Talamaddale is more suited to a delineation of emotions such as shrungaara, karuNa and haasya rather than valour. Talamaddale gives an opportunity to artists who are not very proficient in dancing and those that are too aged and ailing to participate in a full fledged Yakshagana performance.
1. Tala-Maddale (this site leads to a number of other sites on Talamaddale)
MB Ashton - books.google.com
3. www.yakshagana.com/Review.htm (An important essay on Talamaddale by Prabhakara Joshi a scholar and an artist)