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Mridangam, Drum from South India played by Canadian Singer/Songwriter

I would like to share these session photos of James Roop (with permission) playing the Mridangam, a two sided drum/percussion instrument used in South Indian music. During the session, we called the instrument either bongos or drums, but we were all curious what the real name was of this exotic drum instrument.

Thanks to Wikipedia, now we have an idea…

The mridangam is a double-sided drum whose body is usually made using a hollowed piece of jackfruit wood about an inch thick. The two mouths or apertures of the drum are covered with a goat skin leather and laced to each other with leather straps around the circumference of drum. These straps are put into a state of high tension to stretch out the circular membranes on either side of the hull, allowing them to resonate when struck. These two membranes are dissimilar in width to allow for the production of both bass and treble sounds from the same drum.

The bass aperture is known as the “thoppi” or “eda bhaaga” and the smaller aperture is known as the “valanthalai” or “bala bhaaga”. The smaller membrane, when struck, produces higher pitched sounds with a metallic timbre. The wider aperture produces lower pitched sounds. The goat skin covering the smaller aperture is anointed in the center with a black disk made of rice flour, ferric oxide powder and starch. This black paste is known as the “sAtham” or “karnai” and gives the mridangam its distinct metallic timbre. The combination of two inhomogeneous circular membranes allows for the production of unique and distinct harmonics

James is a Canadian singer/songwriter based in the Philippines. He has been spending his weekends at our studio in Makati recording and mixing songs for his first official album or CD. A well traveled music loving person, he obviously did not forget to collect unique instruments he has encountered in his travels AND incorporate these unique sounds in his songs.

Mridangam South India drum played by James from Canada

For this Mridangam drum session, James followed the traditional position of how the Mridangam drum is played in South India, sitting on the floor (either cross legged or upright sitting position). Since the Mridangam drum has two sides, a high pitch and low pitch side, we employed Sennheiser MD421 (dynamic cardioid on Music switch) microphone to capture the distinct bass and high pitched sounds of the Mridangam drum. The drum recording signal chain included Universal Audio 216 tube mic preamps for that realistic and full drum percussion sound.

Note: Images, video, sounds and words used with permission. We respect the intellectual property rights, privacy, and image/likeness of our clients. We do not post confidential information on projects without proper notice.
tags: Mridangam, South India drum, South India percussion, recording studio

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