Tuesday, 19 April 2022


 In  the blogchatter’s A2Z campaign, I will be presenting blogposts on ‘EXCEPTIONALLY TALENTED INDIAN ARTIST’ in the alphabetical order.  Today, P–Palghat Mani Iyer – Mrudangam.  First few lines about the instrument - then about the artist.

"Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to heart." - Pablo Casals

Mrudangam is a percussion instrument and  a primary  rhythmic accompaniment in a carnatic music ensemble. It is known as deva vadyam or divine instrument as it is played by Nandi - the vehicle and the follower of  Lord shiva. 

The mridangam is a double-sided drum whose body is usually made using a hollowed piece of jackfruit wood about an inch thick. The mridangam is played resting it almost parallel to the floor. An mridangam artist plays the smaller membrane with their right hand and the larger membrane with the left hand.

Today the mridangam is most widely used in Carnatic music performances. These performances take place all over Southern India and are now popular all over the world. As the principal rhythmic accompaniment (pakkavadyam), the mridangam has a place of utmost importance, ensuring all of the other artists are keeping their timing in check while providing support to the main artist.

Palghat Mani Iyer was one of the Mrudrangam trinity and the first mrudangist to be awarded the SANGEETHA KALANIDHI BY MUSIC ACADEMY OF MADRAS, THE PADMA BHUSHAN AND THE SANGEET NATAK AKADEMI AWARD  BY THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA.

His maiden public performance was at the age of 10 at a harikatha discourse and  came into prominence in 1924, after accompanying CHEMBAI VAIDYANATHA BHAAGAVATHAR  in a music concert. He accompanied all the leading vocal artists of his era. 

Over the years and especially during the early 20th century, great maestros of mridangam also arose, inevitably defining "schools" of mridangam with distinct playing styles. Examples include the Puddukottai school and the Thanjavur school.  Palghat Mani Iyer followed  Thanjavur school of percussion.

The virtuosos PALANI SUBRAMANIAM PILLAI, PALGHAT MANI IYER and C.S. MURUGABHUPATHY contributed so much to the art that they are often referred to as the Mridangam Trinity.

(I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z and hyperlink to https://www.theblogchatter.co)

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