Odisha has a glorious tradition of music.The figures or dancers musicians Carved on ancient temple walls speak of Odisha's rich musical heritage. There were saint-poets of Odisha who composed lyrical poems to be sung. Bards usually went from place to place singing these songs which 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.
By the 11th Century AD folk music or Odisha existing in the form of Triswari, Chatuhswari, and Panchaswari was modified into the classical style.
Odissi Music is a classical form consisting of all the necessary ingredients common to Hindustani and Karnatic Music, such as rags and tala Jayadeva' was the first Oriya poet who composed lyrics meant to be sung and thus the words of those Lyrics were musical to start with. In addition he indicated the classical ragas prevailing At the time in which these were to be sung. Prior to this there was the tradition Of chhandas which were simple in musical outline. From the 16th century onwards Treatises on music were written or compiled in Odisha. 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.
Odissi sangita is a synthesis of four classes of music, i.e. dhruvapada, chitrapada, chitrakala and panchal, described in the above-mentioned texts. The dhruvapada is the first line or lines to be sung repeatedly. The use of art in music is called chitikala. Kavisurya Baladeva Rath, the renowned Oriya poet wrote lyrics which are the best examples of chitrakala. Chitrapada means the arrangement of words in an alliterative style. All these were combined 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) The chaurisha represents the originality of Odissi style. All the thirty-four letters of the Oriya alphabet from 'Ka' to 'Ksha' are used chronologically at the beginning of each line. A 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 to different talas: navatala nine beats), dashatala(ten beats) or egar tala (eleven beats).
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.
Thus we see, that classical Odissi music lacks nothing in grammar, rhetoric or composition to compare with Hindustani or Karnataki styles. It owes much to Jayadev, the saint-poet, the great composer and illustrious master of classical music.
The greatest exponents of Odissi music in modern times are the late Singhari Shyamasundar Kar, Markeandeya Mahapatra, Kashinath Pujapanda, Balakirshan Das, Bhubaneswari Misra and Shymamani Devi. Who have achieved eminence in classical music include among others Sunanda Patnaik.