Music from India

Pancavadyam

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  • Type

    sound

  • Duration

    00:09:14

  • Cultures

    Kerala (Malayalee)

  • Shelf mark

    RK DAT 45

  • Recording date

    1996-03-24

  • Recording locations

    Laksmi Narayana Bhagavati temple festival in Kumbalan, North Ernakulam, Kerala.

  • Performers

    Chotanikara Narayana Marar (band leader)

  • Recordist

    Killius, Rolf

  • Description

    The beginning part of the two-hour long pancavadyam performance (plus fireworks). Pancha vadyas (the five instruments) are the drums timila, maddalam and idakka, the cymbals ilatalam and the kombu trumpet. The pancavadyam performance starts after the shell conch (shank) is blown three times. The shank is an end-blown sea shell conch trumpet symbolising the sacred A-U-M sound. For this performance the late pancavadyam bandleader, Chotanikara Narayana Marar had gathered twelve timila, six maddalam, ten kombu, one idakka, and several ilatalam cymbal players. As pancavadyam is regarded as one of the most sophisticated art forms in Kerala, the performers are highly respected and usually a huge crowd gathers to watch and listen to the performance. Similar to centa melam, pancavadyam is also characterised by a pyramid rhythmic structure, the ever increasing tempo, and the proportionally decreasing number of beats in a cycles. In contrast to melam it uses different instruments, is not related so closely to the ksetram ritual, contains improvised parts, and its present form was only composed in the 1930s by the maddalam artists Venkichan Swami Bhagavatar and Madhava Warrier. An intelligent mixture of composed and improvised parts creates an amazing sound atmosphere. The artists speak the south Indian language Malayalam.

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