Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Man Melam, and the evolution of nagaswaram

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The title Man Melam (drum manufactured from clay) itself suggests its ancientness. But it surely appears to have been caught in time and has not developed additional.

The Man Melam troupe of Sibi of Salem district, which carried out on the Chennai Sangamam organised by the Division of Artwork and Tradition, provides a glimpse into the evolution of nagaswaram and thavil music. “The percussion instrument — Man Melam — accompanies timiri kind of nagaswaram. Timiri is the predecessor to the present-day pari nagaswaram. Whereas nagaswaram and thavil music have turn into excellent classical devices, Man Melam continues to stay a primitive instrument,” mentioned B. Hemanathan, Deputy Director of the Division of Artwork and Tradition, and an achieved nagaswaram participant.

The drums of modern-day percussion devices are manufactured from wooden, notably the wooden of jackfruit. The drums of Man Melam are lined with the pores and skin of cows and different milch animals on either side. The reed or seevali of timiri nagaswaram of Man Melam is manufactured from palm leaves. It additionally lacks clear distinction of ‘valanthalai’ and ‘thoppi’ of thavil and mridhangam, the extremely advanced percussion devices. “Thudumpu, one other percussion instrument, can also be part of the Man Melam or Man Mathalam troupe. We play at marriages and temple festivals,” Mr. Sibi mentioned. The chief of the group performs the short-type timiri nagaswaram, able to producing high-pitch sound, accompanied by Man Melam.

It was late nagaswaram participant Thiruvavaduthurai Rajarathinam Pillai, who redesigned the nagaswaram from timiri as the current day bigger pari with the assistance of Ranganathan Achari of Naraingampetti that secured the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for nagaswaram-making. “The scale of the nagaswaram grew to become bigger in levels comparable to the reducing of its pitch between the Twenties and the Nineteen Fifties. Since Nineteen Fifties, its dimension has remained fixed…,” writes Japanese scholar Terada Yoshitaka in his e book, T.N. Rajarattinam Pillai: Charisma, Caste Rivalry and the Contested Previous in South Indian Music.

Whereas the excessive pitch enabled the sound of the instrument to journey an awesome distance, invention of microphones rendered them redundant as they demanded extraordinary lung energy of the nagaswaram gamers. Although nagaswaram stays a pre-eminent classical wind instrument, Man Melam confined itself to the realm of folks music.


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