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Karaikudi Mani, who revolutionised role of ‘Mridangam’, no more

Published: 11th May, 2023

Context

Eminent mridangam artiste Karaikudi Mani, who had dominated Carnatic music, died of age-related issues in Chennai.

About

  • Born on September 11, 1945, in Karaikudi to T Ramanath Iyer and Pattammal, Mani shifted from vocal training to learning mridangam.
  • He was considered as one among the all-time greatest mridangam vidwans.
  • He had played alongside Carnatic giants like M S Subbulakshmi and D K Pattammal.

About Mridangam

  • Mridangam is a percussion instrument made of leather and jackwood.
  • A cylindrical body tapered at both the ends.
  • This traditional instrument is found in various parts of South India.
  • It is a popular bifacial drum of Carnatic music and is used as an accompaniment in South Indian Classical music.
  • In modern times, Mridangam is used in Carnatic music performances.
  • History
    • Sangam Period: Mridangam is known as Tannumai in Tamil culture.
      • In ancient Tamil literature, Sangam literature there is the earliest mention of the Mridangam.
      • There is a detailed reference of the instrument in the Natyasastra. It was the most used and primary percussion instrument in the Sangam period.
    • Silappatikaram (epic): After the Sangam period, it is mentioned in the epic ‘Silappatikaram’.
    • Hindu religious scriptures: It is said that it was one of the favorite instruments of Lord Ganesha and Lord Shiva’s bahana, Nandi.
  • Mridangam is very close to another classical percussion instrument Pakhavaj that is mostly used in the Hindustani traditional music in Northern India.
  • Mridangam schools: The most famous and prominent Mridangam schools then and now are the Thanjavur School and the Puddukottai School. 
  • Most notable Mridangam players: Guruvayur Dorai, Anoor Anantha Krishna Sharma, Karaikudi Mani, Bombay C N Balaji, Kovai Venugopal, Mannargudi Easwaran, Prapancham Ravindran, Srimushnam Raja Rao, N. Lakshmi Ganesh, Rohan Krishnamurthy, Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, Vasudevan Govindarajan, K. Murthy, Palghat R. Raghu, Tiruvarur Bhaktavatsalam, and more.
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