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Swaramelakalanidhi – Treatise On Music By Rama Amatya

Swaramelakalanidi or Swara Mela Kalanidhi is a treatise on music. Swaramelakalanidi,  published in 1550 CE, was written by Rama-amatya at the behest of Ramaraja of Vijayanagar. Son of Timmamatya and grandson of Chathura Kallinatha, Rama-amatya enjoyed lordship over Kondaividu. Three editions of his work are now available –

  • The old South Indian edition
  • An edition with Marathi notes by Bhatkhande
  • Edition by M.S. Ramaswami Aiyer for Annamalai University, Tamil Nadu.

Svara Mela Kalanidhi contains four chapters, besides a preface. The four chapters are Svaraprakarana, Vinaprakarana, Melaprakarana and Ragaprakarana. It has 328 couplets in all. The treatment of vina, mela and raga is definitive, and the work may be legitimately considered as an authentic introduction to the modern period in the history of South Indian music.

The patron, Ramaraja, directed Rama-amatya to clear the confusion and conflicting views on the theory and practice of music. Margi and desi, gandarvah (Sanskrit, gandharva) and gana had always perplexed musicologists who preceded Rama-amatya. He (amatya) declared that marga sangita is identical with gandarva – the ancient chant of arcika, gatika, samika and svaranthara types. Gana was desi; margi was therefore static while desi was dynamic and progressive. Rama-amatya gave a clear exposition of mela and raga. Mela and raga delineation depends on the vina technique and structure. Out of this originates the concept of Madhya melavina. Three varieties of vina are referred to, namely suddhamela vina, madhyamela vina and achyutharajendra vina. Each had two types – ekaraga and sarvaraga.