The Kamsale artists, who are found in Chamarajanagar, Mysore, Mandya and Bangalore rural districts, are distinguished singers evolved in the background of worshipping god. These singers glorify the power and grandeur of their god and build stories through their songs and are very loyal to their tradition. Generally these singers come from a lineage of their own or through the Master-disciple tradition and would have been initiated in the name of god and accepted singing as their main occupation throughout their lives.
The kamsale artists are the devotees of Mahadeswara residing at Male Mahadeshwara hills in chamarajanagar district. They get their name from the unique instrument they use in their performance, which is called a Kamsale. Kamsale is a cymbal instrument made from bronze. Their are two components in the instrument. One is a palm sized bowl shaped piece with a hole in the center ,through which a thread passes. The other is lid shaped flat cymbol. One side of the cymbal is doom shaped through which a thread passes. This thread is decorated various small beads etc. The thread is held between two fingers and will be about a fathom length. The bowl shaped piece is held in the left palm and the the other (lid) in the right palm. When they are struck against each other , it produces a distinguished sound . The Kamsaale is also called by different names viz , Kaisale Kausale, Kaitala, Batlu etc.
The costume includes a white dhoti, white or saffron robe , a necklace of Rudrakshi beads round the neck, a red cloth round the waist. They apply vibhooti over the forehead, holding the Kamsaale in the hands. A white bag is hung over the shoulder. These artists get initiation from the guru and serve as devotees of Mahadeshwara. They visit their God without fail during Diwali, Ugadi and Shivarathri.
The Kamsale artists perform chorus singing. Generally three to eight artists participate in a Kamsale chorus. The team includes background and foreground performers. The folk epic 'Male Mahadeshwara ' is a favorite religious poetry, which can be sung for days together. The great epic comprises seven divisions. Each night one division is sung. Each division is a chapter and is referred as a Taalugathe, Kinge Sravana' s line, Junjegowda's line Shankamma's line , Ikkeri Devamma's line, Bevinahatti Kali's line, Saragoorappa' line- these are the seven line or chapters . All these combined is referred as a story. Before they begin the story, they pray to Lord Ganapati and Goddess Saraswati. The foreground singer holds the bowl shaped cymbal in the left hand with the inner side facing upwards and strikes it down on the cymbol on left. The performance progresses with melody and rhythm.
The Kamsale artists who belong to a very highly religious professional tradition of Karnataka have a rich treasure of folklore literature. The epics narrated by these Kamsale artists have been collected by various Kannada literateurs like G.S. Paramashivaiah, P.K.Rajashekar, chakkere Shivashankar, H.C Boralingaiah and others. There is a thrilling dance called ' Bessu Kamsale' which is practiced by the kamsale artists