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Mridangam - The Primary Rhythmic Accompaniment of Carnatic Music


Mridangam is a percussion instrument from India that has an ancient origin. Its word is derived from Sanskrit words “mrttika” (clay) and “angam” (body).

During the early days, mridangams were made of hardened clay. However, modern versions are made from wood.

In Hindu mythology, mridangam is linked with Lord Nandi and Ganesha. It is also believed that the mridangam was one of the principal percussion instruments used by King Siva to sound the start of war.

Mridangam is a bifacial drum that is popular in Carnatic music. It is constructed from jackfruit wood and has a cylindrical body tapered at both ends. It is layered with parchments and fastened to leather hoops. Black paste is loaded on the right face in layers and very fine flour dough is applied on the left face before performance.


Mridangams are made out of hollowed pieces of jackfruit wood, covered with goatskin, and tied together with leather straps. The two mouths of the drum are laced in such a way that when a sliver-thin reed is inserted between the two layers, the drum produces a buzzed sound.

The mridangam is an essential instrument in South Indian classical Carnatic music. It is used in many percussion ensembles, as well as for solo performances during vocal concerts and other dance forms.

The mridangam can be tuned to different pitches using wooden pegs, which are placed above or below the rim of the mridangam. The peg is then hit to increase or decrease the pitch.


Mridangam is a double barreled drum native to India, the primary rhythmic accompaniment of Carnatic music artists. It combines both bass (thoppi) and pitched (valanthalai) drumheads that are made of jackfruit wood.

The shell of a mridangam is built out of a hollowed piece of jackfruit wood and is covered with goatskin, laced together by leather straps to form the two mouths or apertures. The skin is varied in thickness to give the membranes dissimilar diameters to allow for the production of both bass and treble sounds.

The inner surface of the mridangam is anointed with a black tuning paste, called satham. This mixture of rice flour, ferric oxide powder and starch is mixed in proper proportions to give the mridangam its unique metallic timbre.


Mridangams are crafted using traditional techniques that have been passed down through the centuries. They are made with jackfruit wood, goatskin and leather. They are hollowed out to a barrel shape and chiselled in a lathe machine.

These techniques are used to create distinct features in the drums such as harmonic frequency and pitch. These features can be heard in the music played on mridangam.

Mridangams are a staple of Carnatic music and have received global recognition with artists such as Canadian rapper Shan Vincent de Paul, who released a series of mridangam raps. These videos have amassed millions of views worldwide and continue to grow in popularity.


Mridangam is the most used double-sided drum in South Indian Music. It is played as accompaniment to vocal and instrumental performances, with its distinctive buzzing sound.

Mridangam consists of a barrel-shaped, double-headed drum whose right head is slightly smaller than its left. The right head is made of three concentric layers of skin, with the innermost layer hidden from view.

The right head is smeared in the center with a black paste which allows the emission of harmonics. This is achieved by a combination of boiled rice, manganese and iron filings.

The mridangam is scooped out of a single piece of wood, jackwood or redwood being the preferred choice. This gives the instrument its good sound characteristics.


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