TABLA                           PAKHAWAJ                        MRIDAGAM                      KHOL



     DHOLAK              DHOLAKI                  DHOL                               TAVIL



            DAMRU                   MADAL                       NAAL                           KANJIRA


            INDIAN TASHA DRUM                 GHATAM                   NAGARA                                           DUFF






                                       DRUMS    OF  INDIA


                                       BY CHANDIRAMANI


   India is a land of ancient culture and traditions, in which dance, music, art, literature, architecture and  handicraft etc. play a very important role.


We have chosen to  concentrate on  DRUMS OF INDIA , an essential part of MUSIC ,  in this article .,


               For other articles on Classic  Literature ,Folk  Tales , Music and dance ,visit www.chandiramani.com 


                                            Also visit G.L.Chandiramani   on google and yahoo.


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 Some association , corporate firm or TV  should organize a festival of drums of India . We can guide them



                                                    ORIGION OF RHYTHM


Now what is rhythm? The most basic rhythm is that of heart. The heart beats in a very  Rhythmatic fashion and you can count the beats.


The whole Universe  rotates in a Rhythm.


 When we walk, that also is in a  Rhythm


To start with, Rhythm was  started  by beating the ground with the feet; afterwards it was with the clapping of the hands. Sometimes, they would beat a tree, stone or a hard surface with the hands or with a stick to produce a Rhythm



Afterwards leather skins were added to the hollow woods and we had an endless variety of drums. Many of them  are not in vogue today.


How the counting of rhythms started, nobody knows about it but evidently it is beyond doubt that the first rhythm was of two beats. It is the most important Rhythm of the world and even in tribal areas of India as well as of Africa and the whole world; they dance in two beats, of course without realizing it.


Slowly in India, which was mathematically very advanced, a permutation of two beats started and so in due course we had  ,4, 8, 12 and 16 beats, each rhythm having variations of playing .


With time, one more beat was added to the two beats and a basic Rhythm of three beats was evolved


 Slowly permutations and combinations yielded a rhythm of 5 beats, a combination of 2 beats and three beats.


Also of 7 beats , a combination of 3 and 4 beats,With time, even 4 varieties of 7 beats  were evolved .


In due course, it was natural that numerous  other combinations would be attempted and perfected throughout the centuries.



So it has become a challenge for us to preserve our ancient drums, as well as Side Rhythm Instruments along with our rhythms. This is something that we  are trying to do and   so far have already collected information on 16 drums .






Incidentally the earliest proof of drum playing is in an Egyptian temple where they show Goddess Hather , Goddess of Music, playing   drums in a frame ., Goddess  Isis  and Sekhmet  were also known to play  drums in a frame .


There are also scores of ancient drums in South America , and  Africa  .


 The Chinese, Vietnamese and Indonesian have also  ancient bronze drums.


 Artefacts in India show a great variety of  drums . Outside India, at Borobudur in Indonesia  Buddhist Statues show musicians playing on drums.:


It is only in India where our ancestors have developed very complicated  rythms with mathematical precision   from 2 beats to  16 beats  onward . In most places of the world , they play mostly in 2 beats .


In Panchatantra Classic  written in 2 OO B.C in Sanskrit , there is a reference about the existence of 49 types of  Rhythms. According to Bharatamuni*, an ancient sage , music consists of seven notes, three scales, twenty-one modulations, forty-nine rhythms and three speeds. There are also several Ragaas and Raginis* which have to be sung at the proper time and season.


Refer to Panchatantra  by Chandiramani (Rupa & Co ) page 233  .


 Classic Natya Shastra was also   written in 2OO B.C and  deals with Dance and Music.







                                                                                       1 .  TABLA





Tabla consists  of two drums, one for the left hand and one for the right and accompanies classical vocal,Light vocal (Thumris) Ghazals as well as Bhajans and folk music.

Amir Khusroo is credited with the creation and development of Tabla .
A 22OO year Old Motif on a stone wall at Bhaja in Maharashtra shows a woman playing an instrument similar to Tabla .

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2. PAKHAWAJ

It is one of our oldest drums It is a barrel shaped drum with leather skin on both the sides .

Phakhawaj is played with our most ancient type of singing namely Dhrupad and Dhamar and Bhajans.

The most ancient drum in India is called Dundhubi, the earthenware drum. The word Pakhawaj is derived from Pakha which means Pure and Awaj means the sound . Pakhawaj finds mention in Mahabharat and Natya Shastra ( Written in 2OO B.C) Without doubt , it is the king of Indian drums .


                                                         3.       MRIDAGAM



        It is the main drum of South India for Karnataka Music.


______________________________________________________________________________________________________                                              _ 4.   KHOL



   In eastern India  khol accompanies the melodious Baul  and  Bhatialies  sung by Bards going from village to village. It is also played  with modern music .



                                                                5 . DHOLAK



 It   Is usually played  with  folk music and other  type of light music.





                                                              6    DHOLAKI









  It  is also played in folk music and other types of light music .



                                                        7   DHOL






It has an appearance of a barrel with  leather skin attached to the Sides. It accompanies the fiery Bhangra in Punjab,Raas in Gujarat and folk music in Rajasthan and other places in India ..


It is played with wooden sticks

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------                                  8 . TAVIL



This drum is played in  south India  only mostly in temples .It accompanies  Nagaswaram  a very important instrument  of south India





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                                                              9  DAMRU




This percussion instrument is associated with the  cosmic  dance of Lord Shiva  The two threads attached  to the drum  have beads at the end  and when  rotated with the hand touch the lather skin on both the sides  and produce a peculiar musical sound .


The villagers make  monkeys  dance to the accompaniment of  Damru ..





                                                                 1O MADAL


   It is a two faced d rum. Both sides are used . It is usually played with dance and folk music.



                                               11.       NAAL



It is also a two faced drum played with both the hands





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 12       KANJIRA


It is played  in South India to accompany singing , although it is   nowadays played  all over India.Only one face is there .It is held with one  hand and played with the other.It is in the category of frame drums .                                                               

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                                                 13 .   INDIAN TASHA DRUM



Hand-made terracotta with a goat-skin head. This is a traditional Indian drum that can be played with the hand or with the bamboo beaters.

Includes a beautifully carved wood tripod .stand and a pair of bamboo beaters.







                                                                              14 .   GH ATAM



It is made of clay .There is an  opening of the top .One plays at the top with both the hands, In some cases , the opening is covered by the belly of the musician and he strikes the  Ghatam to produce various   sounds.


Ghatam  is used mainly with South Indian Music .  Also  Sind uses it extensively with folk music.It is called Matko in  Sind



                                                                                     15  .NAGARA




 NAGARA is played in the (magrib) at sunset in Dargahs (mosques ) or as an announcement  about the arrival of a royal personality .








                                                                                           16  DUFF





 Duff  has a leather skin  on the frame and rings and  bells  are in the frame. It is played with light music .






There are so many drums in India that it is impossible  to bring them under one article .


 However Contributions for different drums  are welcome .Can anyone send us photos of Hudki and Dimri?


Information  about other drums  with   photos will be appreciated.