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The Ghatam is a bulbous earthenware
jug from southern India that is open at the top and has
a narrow neck. It can be positioned on the lap or on a
tabla ring and is played with the fingers of both hands.
The belly, neck and upper rim produce different tone colours.
A characteristic bass tone that can be modulated results
from beating the opening with the palm of one's hand.
The Ghatam was already mentioned in the great Indian epic,
the Ramayana. In the Punjab it is called Bada and in Kashmir
Ghara; - in southern India it is known as Ghatam. The
Karnatic music often uses the Ghatam together with the
Mridangam in the form of Sawal-Jawab (question-answer
play). It usually consists of a mixture of clay, iron
dust or other metallic components. For playing it, the
finger technique of the tabla is usually used, but the
Ghatam can also be used for improvising.
Suresh, a Ghatam Maestro from Sounth India describes the
correct use of the Ghatam in classical music as follows:
Ghatam is not played, in the upright position kept on
a ring or stand.
It is kept on the lap and kept in an angular position
( the mouth of the ghatam facing the chest and neck of
The base is produced occasionally with the palm covering
the open mouth of the ghatam. But this sound is too loud
and high bass.
The frequently used more sophisticated base or GAMAKA
/GUMUKI is by the combination of two actions. One is playing
on the neck of the ghatam with the wrist (strongly) keeping
the fingers folded for better power and accent. The second
action simultaneously done is by moving the ghatam outwards
( through the above said stroke)from the stomach or tummy
which partially keeps the mouth of the ghatam covered
normally. The air column inside ghatam is forced to go
out in the movement and with the stroke is produces a
beautiful base sound."
may see a video sample of Vaidyanathan Suresh underneath
which he kindly provided to us for our website. If you
want to know more about Vaidyanathan Suresh you may also
visit his website: www.ghatamsuresh.com
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of parts of the instruments that are often of a poor qualtity.
Irrespective of the qualification of the skill in craftsmanship,
this leads, in some cases, to results that do not deserve
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