Music from India

Athanta Melam

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  • Type

    sound

  • Duration

    00:07:58

  • Cultures

    Kerala (Malayalee)

  • Shelf mark

    RK DAT 68

  • Recording date

    1997-02-04

  • Recording locations

    Krishna temple, Thrikkur, Trichur district, Kerala.

  • Performers

    Peruvanam Kuttan Marar (band leader, Itantala centa), Murali (Itantala centa), Satheesan (Itantala centa), Prakasan (Itantala centa), Cherussery Kuttan (Itantala centa), Peethambaran (band leader, valantala centa), Kochaniyan (valantala centa), Nandanan (valantala centa), Unni (valantala centa), Saji (valantala centa), Dasan (valantala centa), Rajan (valantala centa), Mani (valantala centa) , Palakrishnan Nair (valantala centa), Kuttan Paniker (band leader, kulal oboe), Krishnan Kutty (kulal oboe), Sivaram (kulal oboe), Nandan (kulal oboe), Anil (kulal oboe), Chandran (kulal oboe), Kumath Raman Nair (band leader, kombu horn)

  • Recordist

    Killius, Rolf

  • Description

    A large orchestra, conducted by the well-known centa melam bandleader Peruvanam Kuttan Marar, plays the rarely performed athanta melam to the backdrop of the ancient rock temple in Thrikkur. For this recording Kuttan selected 37 of the most experienced musicians in Central Kerala. A melam can be performed with a variety of rhythmic structures and cycles, but each performance is regarded as the ritualistic and cultural climax of any temple festival in Kerala. The athanta melam could be depicted in a pyramid form; it starts in a very slow tempo with long musical cycles, and finishes with a short, fast and powerful climax. Usually Kerala musicians explain the symbolic meaning of the melam structure as follows: the broad basis of the first stage symbolises the ordinary life of men, while the peak of the last stage shows the ideal human or divine aspect of reality. The rhythmic cycles of this melam contain 56, 28, 14 and 7 beats. This recording has been taken from the beginning of the performance, which uses the 56-beat rhythmic cycle. The microphones used in this recording were placed in the centre of the melam orchestra, that is, the centa (drum) and ilatalam players players stand in a half circle to the right, and the wind instrument players were positioned opposite to the left. Itantala centa (treble drum): Peruvanam Kuttan Marar (bandleader), Murali, Satheesan, Prakasan and Cherussery Kuttan. Valantala centa (bass drum): Peethambaran (leader), Kochaniyan, Nandanan, Unni, Saji, Dasan, Rajan, Nandanan, Mani and Palakrishnan Nair. Kulal oboe: Kuttan Paniker (leader), Krishnan Kutty, Sivaram, Nandan, Anil and Chandran. Kombu horn: Raman Nair (leader), Sasi, Radhakrishnan, Udayan, Anilan, Saji, Girije and Ramachandran. Ilatalam cymbals: Cherpu Mani (leader), Rajan, Krishnan, Sankaran, Gopi, Raghu, Manikandan, Nandan and Venu. The artists speak the south Indian language Malayalam.

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Athanta Melam

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