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The Theory and Practice of Mridanga

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Preface   Mridanga, a percussion instrument, is the chief Laya Vaadya accompaniment in Karnatic Music.   Knowledge of laya or rhythm is acquired by a very few people who undergo rigorous 'raining under a Guru and / or by those who have divine grace. The number of those who have perfectly understood the nature of sound or Naada Tatwa and acquired fame after years of playing on Mridanga can be counted on fingers.   The...



Mridanga, a percussion instrument, is the chief Laya Vaadya accompaniment in Karnatic Music.


Knowledge of laya or rhythm is acquired by a very few people who undergo rigorous 'raining under a Guru and / or by those who have divine grace. The number of those who have perfectly understood the nature of sound or Naada Tatwa and acquired fame after years of playing on Mridanga can be counted on fingers.


There was no complete authoritative text book on the art of playing this wonderful percussion instrument, Mridanga. The few fundamental secrets learnt by one from the Guru had to be got by heart and exhibited while playing on the instrument. On account of the want of a proper guiding text book, people who practice are forced to follow almost a dark path and undergo difficulties. So we desire to bring forth a text book giving all the details of the play on the Mridanga, the only Laya Vaadya instrument which can produce a wide range of shades and delicacies of sound. With the grace of the Almighty and the Gurus, we wrote this book "Mridanga Thatwam".


In writing the various lakshanas in Chapter I, ancient standard books like Sangeetha Ratnakaram, Sangeetha Swaraprastara Saagaram, Gaana Bhaskaram and Gaayakalochanam completed helped us. We are deeply indebted to the authors of all those great standard works. We completed this work in a simple and faultless language explaining all the technical terms and we placed before readers and learned scholars.


In this chapter I, we explained the relation between Kaala and Maarga and about Jaathi a Gathibheda differences and the Dasapraanas of Thaala. In the same way in the chapter on Lakshya (practice) while writing the Prastara (elaboration) of exercises for beginners, the Hand/finger position to be used have been indicated on the exercises or the series given. On the photos of the right and left side of the instrument, the places and the exact sounds that can be produced there are noted below the figures. The Paatantharas for the thirty five Suladi Thaalas and the duration of laghu, druta, anudruta are also given. A vertical line is indicated to separate laghu, druta and anudruta. A pair of vertical lines are indicated for the completion of one Thaala Jaathis reduction, enhancement, Nada, ending, mohara for each of the five Jaathis and easy calculation for different muktayis are shown in tabular forms and worked out in detail and illustrated.


Very many details about the technique of the playing have been given for the use of interested students. It is no exaggeration to say that beginners can easily practice by them- selves with the aid of this book. Students can acquire in short time a good style of playing on the instrument at higher degrees of speed and also provide good rhythmic effects to compositions when sung.


There are also many details to help advanced students. In the tabular forms calculations for Kriya-Aksharas for Muktaayis with Gathi Bheda are furnished. One can understand the form of the muktaayi, its Jaathi, gathi and Kaala and also learn to use Thaala Kriya Jaathis from a close study of the tables. All necessary explanation with examples has been given for easy understanding.


The various experiences and knowledge acquired by us during our practice from child- hood have been presented so that they may be useful to all. We welcome the constructive criticism and suggestions of learned scholars. A few errors might have crept in without our conscious knowledge, which may be brought to our attention. Necessary corrections will be made by us in our next reprint with gratitude.


We are greatly indebted to the eminent scholars who have closely studied our book in its entirety and given their valuable opinions on our work.


The second edition is printed with the financial assistance of Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University, Hyderabad, T.T. Devasthanams, Tirupathi, H.E.H. The Nizam's Charitable Trust, Hyderabad, and The Sangeetha Natak Akadami, New Delhi.


The book was first written in Telugu when the opinions of various musicians given in 1964, 65 and 66 were printed. The first English edition was printed in 1973 and this second edition is printed in 2001. The original is the Telugu edition "Mridanga Thatwam". The opinions in the Telugu edition are included in the English editions.


We are greatly indebted to late Sri Varanasi Veerabhadram, M.A., B.Ed., our intimate family friend who has taken special paints to render the First Edition into English.


I offer my thanks to Sri Akella Mallikarjuna Sarma, a research scholar in music, in permitting me to publish part of his works on "Prastaram" in this edition.


I offer my sincere thanks to Sri C.V Padmanabhan, LR.S., Chief Commissioner, Income Tax, Sri G. Raja Mouli Gupta, President, A.P. Arya Vysya Maha Sabha, Gayatri Rama Chandran, LA.S., Principal Secretary, Govt. of A.P., Sri A.P.V.N. Sarma I.A.S., Chairman & Managing Director, Singareni Collaries, Sri P.B. Naidu, Vice President of A.P. Paper Mills, Sri C. Jaya Prakash Reddy, Joint Commissioner, Prohibition& Excise, Sri P.VR.K. Prasad I.A.S. Sri M. Kamal Naidu LF.S.,(Retd.) Sri S.A. Huda LP.S. for extending their co-operation, help and Valuable Suggestions for Publication of this Book. My Special Thanks to M/s. A.P. Paper Mills Management, and LT C. Badrachalam Management for Donation of Some part of Paper for this Book.


I offer my thanks to Late Sri C.v. Raman, K.T, F.R.S., N.L. Noble Prize Winner for Publishing his paper "THE INDIAN MUSICAL DRUMS" in this book as a part of his Paper Pub- lished in 1934 for information to the readers.


My Blessings to my two sons Chi. D. V Rama Murthy and Chi. D. VS.S. Prasad, who are working in U.S.A. as Software Engineers and also Mridangam Players, for theirValuable Suggestions in Publication of this book.


I also offer my best wishes to Chi. Vamsi and Sri Muralikrishna in Printing the book in a good standard and the Cover Page designed by Satish in a novel idea.


I offer my sincere thanks to all those who helped me directly or indirectly in publishing this Second Edition. Besides some other Thaalas, I have included 108 Thaalas also in this edition in the annexure for the benifit of the readers.

Sample Pages

Item Code: NAH374 Author: Late Sri Dharmala Rama Muthy Cover: Paperback Edition: 2001 Publisher: Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, Tirupati Language: English Size: 9.5 inch x 7.0 inch Pages: 361 (18 B/W Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 690 gms
Price: $40.00
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