Musical Instruments

Tamil Nadu is the premier state where many traditional musical instruments are made. They can range from veenas to Nadaswram (a double reed woodwind instrument) to Ghatam (earthen pot) and many more.

Saraswati veena are traditionally made in Thanjavur where a lot of artisans reside. For making this instrument, artisans use the wood from a jackfruit tree. The instrument itself is intricately carved with tiny figures and varnished using natural gum, lacquer and beeswax. The work itself is very detail oriented and requires very high level of skill to accomplish.

The Nadaswaram is an important part of Karnatic music tradition and is produced in the village of Narasingampettai, about 40km from Thanjavur. It begins life as a block of wood that is turned on a lathe. After turning the block into a conical hollow tube, the surface is sanded smooth and seven holes are drilled into it. Finally, the tip of the instrument is fitted with natural reed.

Ghatam on the other hand is a Madurai speciality. It is actually an earthen pot that can be struck by hand in various ways to create music as a percussion instrument. In fact, a casual look makes it difficult to distinguish between a ghatam and ordinary pot. The difference is in the soil quality and thickness. Madurai ghatam are one of the nation’s heaviest ghatams, making them difficult to play but highly prized for the rich sound they make.


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