Mridangam Info.

in Info, Mridangam

Mridangam is a double-headed drum also known as “King of percussion instruments”. It is considered as one of the ancient drums. It also holds great religious significance as it was used by Lord Ganesha and Nandi Devar(vehicle and companion of Lord Shiva).

A mridangam was originally made of clay since mridangam is made of two words namely mrid meaning clay and ang meaning body.

Music of India consists of two parts: Hindustani music used in Northern India and Carnatic Music used in South of India. Mridangam is one of the main instrument used in Carnatic Sangeet. It is also sometimes used as an accompanying instrument. Its North Indian version is known as Pakhawaj.

The construction of Mridangam is quite fascinating. It consists of a barrel-shaped shell usually carved out of single piece of jackfruit wood or redwood. The two heads of the instrument are covered either with goat skin or calf hide. The heads are connected to each other with the help of leather lacing which are tightened enough to produce resonance.

The left head(thoppi) contains a temporary paste made from a mixture of semolina and water and it is larger in size. This paste has to be removed after each use so as to protect the instrument from insects. Smaller head contains a permanent black spot which is a mixture of boiled rice, manganese and iron filings and is responsible for producing the various harmonics.

The pitch of the mridangam varies inversely with its size. Larger ones produce a bass sound whereas smaller one generate a high frequency sound. Also a mridangam contains only one resonator which helps in matching the sound between both the heads.

Mridangam is played by keeping it on the floor while sitting. It lays upon the right foot and ankle and is cushioned with the help of a wrapped cloth since it is heavy.Normally, length of Mridangam is 22-23 inches but there is a specific type of mridangam known as ‘Maha-Mridangam’ which is 26 inches in length.

Tuning of mridangam is performed with the help of a pitch pipe, a small wooden stick (pallu) and a small stone called kaalu.

Some of the dance forms where Mridangam is widely used are: Bharatanatyam, KuchipudiMohiniattam.

Notable players of Mridangam include: Late Palghat Mani Iyer, Late Palghat Raghu, Dr.T.K.Murthy, Umayalapuram K. Sivaraman, Vellore Ramabhadran,Trichy Sankaran,T.S.Nandakumar, Karaikudi Mani, Madurai.T.Srinivasan, Yella Venkateswara Rao, Srimushnam Raja Rao, Tiruvarur Bhaktavatsalam, Cheluvaraj Trichur C Narendran.

Famous Manufacturers of Mridangam in India are:  Maharaja Musicals, Sai Musicals, Delhi Musical Store, Sathyadeep musicals etc.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: