Music from India

Paandi Melam

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  • Type


  • Duration


  • Cultures

    Kerala (Malayalee)

  • Shelf mark

    RK DAT 47

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Bhagavati temple, Cherpu West Puram, Kerala

  • Performance occasion


  • Performers

    Cherpu Mani (band leader), Kumath Raman Nair (band leader), Peetambaran (band leader)

  • Recordist

    Killius, Rolf

  • Description

    A large orchestra, conducted by the well-known centa melam bandleader Peruvanam Kuttan Marar, plays the well-known melam called paandi during the annual puram temple festival in Cherpu West (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 paandi 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. For this track we have selected the introductory part called olampal. The sounds of the centa drums 'ghrr' and 'dhim' dominate this vigorous intro and should symbolise the waxing and waning of a lion's roar. Most probably this huge orchestra performance was once performed in support of a lion's hunt. Even nowadays, especially during the big temple festivals, a symbolic hunt for the deity is organised. Possibly because of the ancient performance context this melam is only performed outside the temple complex. The orchestra consists of seven treble centa-s, seven kulal oboes (led by Kuttan Paniker, 15 ilatalam cymbals (led by Cherpu Mani), six kombu horns (lead by Kumath Raman Nair, and 15 centa bass players (led by Peetambaran). The artists speak the south Indian language Malayalam.

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