Book Review: MRIDANGAM-
an Indian classical percussion drum
Reviewed by V P Dhananjayan, Chennai
To the best of my knowledge there are not very many books on Bharateeya Taala Vadya. A couple of books in Tamizh on the techniques and lessons in Mridangam, by Mridangam Vidwans are available. This book in reference is a unique addition to the existing ones in content and presentation.
First of all, this is written by a lady Mridangam Vidushi, hailing from Karnataka and disciple of Umayalpuram Sivaraman. Though she is a management professional in computer science, she is a recipient of the Government of India Fellowship for outstanding artists. This book on Mridangam is the result of her research fellowship work.
Shreejayanthi has traced the evolution of ‘Avanaddha vaadya”(percussion) from Naatya Sastra to present day playing technique. The chapters include origin, design and construction, the science of taala, the art of accompaniment, usage of Mridangam in classical and folk music, and ends with short write-ups on Mridangam vidwans from 18th century to Palghat Mani Iyer era of Mridangam tradition.
Written in simple and comprehensive English language and very well illustrated with pictures of sculptures of various drums of different regions of Bhaarata.
The Publishers M/s. B R Rhythms, Delhi has taken special care in designing the book. It is very attractive with very minimal printing errors.
Shreejayanthi’s work of scholarship is very laudable and she has thrown much light on the unknown aspects of this great percussion. This book will be of great use to Sangeeta Vidwans and classical dancers. The theoretical delineation of Mridangam techniques is a revelation to be reckoned with.
A book worth possessing by all means.
B R Rhythms, 425, Nimri Colony
V P Dhananjayan is a Bharatanatyam guru and exponent and director of Bharata Kalanjali in Chennai.