The Indian subcontinent is overflowing with instruments of all shapes and forms. Certain instruments are used in a variety of musical forms and over a large geographic area, while others are well-known in a specific region for a particular style of music. Through innovations by Indian maestros with regards to playing techniques and/or modifications to the instruments themselves, several folk instruments are now used in Indian classical music.
Broadly speaking, Indian instruments are categorized into 5 groups: non-membranous percussion (ghan), membranous percussion (avanaddh), wind blown (sushir), plucked string (tat), bowed string (vitat).
Through this series of blog posts, we will be introducing you to the diversity of instruments found in the Indian subcontinent.
The Mrudangam is a percussion instrument from South India and forms the base of carnatik sangeet. It is considered as an instrument of lords’. Mythological tales suggest that the God of bulls first played it during the Tandav performance by Lord Shiva. The shell of Mridangam is made from the jake fruit tree. This drum is made in two sizes of twenty-four inches and twenty-two inches for female and male vocalists, respectively. This instrument is played with both hands, creating varying sounds effects. It produces a buzzing sound that is used for dance performances. Multiple layers of skins are used to make surface at both ends.
Playing the instrument also requires the particular posture. The instrumentalists has to sit cross-legged with the left foot under the right foot, extended slightly. The mridanganm then placed on the right foot and ankle.