The Mridangam is one of the most ancient and popular hand drums from India. It is the principal percussion instrument in South Indian classical Carnatic music. The mridangam has two drumheads: bass (thoppi) and pitched (valanthalai). Overall length is approximately 22-24 inches; the bass head is 7 1/2 - 8 3/4 inches in diameter and the pitched head is 6 1/4 - 7 1/2 inches in diameter. The shell is made of jackwood. It functions as a solo instrument, as well as the primary percussion instrument in vocal and instrumental ensembles. Sliver-thin reeds are inserted between the two layers of the pitched head to create a distinct, buzzed sound. When played, the drum is held horizontally, and played with the fingers and palms.
The new RohanRhythm tuneable mridangam combines traditional strapping with a convenient nut-and-bolt system of fastening. The design has many advantages over the traditional design:
- Easy tuning with a wrench
- Pitch range of up to five whole steps (C to A) compared to +/- 1 whole step with the traditional instrument
- Easy head replacement
- Independent tuning of the drumheads
- Weaved rope retains traditional elegance of the through-and-through strapping
- No sharp hooks to impede performance
- Traditional mridangams can be retrofitted with the new design
For more information on the design, visit Rohan Krishnamurthy's website.