At an age when traditional compositions compete with new compositions on the concert platform, padams, to a large extent, and javalis, to a lesser extent, have all but disappeared though they were at one time the cherished pieces of a musician's repertoire.
In his recent lecture organised at Carnatica, scholar Dr. Pappu Venugopala Rao explained with simplicity and clarity what padams and javalis are. The audience was given a mind boggling list of classifications of the various types of heroines -- Naayikas that padams and javalis' deal with. Our ancestors were evidently experts in arriving at multiple solutions that would put modern brainstorming techniques to shame. Every shade of grey was represented. Even a classification of a woman who was in love with another had multiple types depending on whether she kept it a secret or she told a few. Age, expertise in arts, beauty, and social class were other classifications. To remind us of the need for this, Dr. Rao stressed the importance to use the classification on to a song by a singer or dancer to bring out the pathos appropriately.
A useful part of the lecture was the component on defining a padam and differentiating it from the later (19th century) javali. Among the many differences, a significant one was in a padam, the charanams always expand on the pallavi and usually reach a climax with the last charanam whereas in a javali, this coupling between the charanams and the pallavi may be flexible.
The informative lecture was followed by a demonstration of some padams sung beautifully by Kiranavali Vidyashankar and K.N. Shashikiran. Anjana Anand danced to some songs. The music was true to the style of the Dhanammal family who did much to make padams popular.