The Chicago Journal

Your Gateway to the Heartbeat of Chicago

Unlocking the Complexities of Mridangam: T S Nandakumar’s Masterful Guide

Unlocking the Complexities of Mridangam T S Nandakumar's Masterful Guide
Photo Courtesy: T. S. Nandakumar

In the world of Indian classical music, the Mridangam holds a place of reverence and awe. Its rhythms and beats are the heartbeat of Carnatic music, providing a foundation upon which melodies dance and flourish. Amidst the custodians of this ancient art form stands T S Nandakumar, a name synonymous with mastery and dedication in the realm of Carnatic percussion. With the release of his latest book, “Intricacies of Mridangam,” Nandakumar embarks on a mission to demystify the advanced techniques of Mridangam playing, offering a bridge for students and enthusiasts to cross from foundational knowledge to mastery.

A Deep Dive into the Art of Mridangam

“Intricacies of Mridangam” is not just a book; it’s a comprehensive journey through the complex world of Carnatic rhythms, designed to elevate a student’s understanding from basic to advanced levels of Mridangam playing. Following the success of his previous work, “Roots of Mridangam,” which laid down the fundamental concepts of beats and sequences, Nandakumar’s latest offering delves deeper into the construction of sophisticated rhythmic arrangements such as mohras, koruvais, and Muktayippus.

The book begins with an exploration of foundational topics like finger placements, Jathis, and thalas, which are crucial for creating complex percussive sequences. Through detailed explanations, practical examples, and a variety of compositions in different mathematical patterns, Nandakumar guides readers through the nuances of playing for concerts or solo performances. Each example is complemented by corresponding thalas or rhythmic patterns, emphasizing the importance of understanding the underlying structure of each composition.

Beyond a Reference Guide

While “Intricacies of Mridangam ” serves as an indispensable resource for students of TSN’s Percussive Arts Centre, Inc. (TSNPAC), its purpose extends far beyond. The book aims to enrich the skills of percussion students worldwide, preserving and elevating the unique paadam of the Mridangam tradition. Nandakumar’s emphasis on the distinctive finger alignment and the nuanced pronunciation of konnakol (verbal percussion) highlights his commitment to upholding the essence of this ancient art form.

The impact of this book is profound, with many of Nandakumar’s students becoming accomplished musicians, graded artists in All India Radio, and esteemed teachers. By fostering a deep appreciation for the Mridangam’s rich heritage and cultural significance, “Intricacies of Mridangam” contributes to the continuity and flourishing of this revered tradition.

A Legacy in the Making

Released on March 17, 2024, by Dr. Venkataraman Swaminathan, a renowned musicologist and scientist, at the Bridgewater Temple Auditorium in New Jersey, “Intricacies of Mridangam” stands as a testament to Nandakumar’s lifelong dedication to the art of Carnatic percussion. As the director of TSN’s Percussive Arts Centre Inc. and a celebrated educator and performer, Nandakumar’s contributions to Indian classical music are immeasurable. His book not only serves as a beacon of knowledge for aspiring Mridangam artists but also ensures that the legacy of this timeless art form continues to inspire future generations.

“Intricacies of Mridangam” is more than just a guide; it’s a gateway to mastering the art of Mridangam, crafted by one of the most respected artists in the field, T S Nandakumar. Through its pages, students and enthusiasts alike are invited to explore the depths of Carnatic percussion, embarking on a journey that promises to enrich their understanding and skill in playing this magnificent instrument.


Published by: Khy Talara

Share this article


This article features branded content from a third party. Opinions in this article do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of The Chicago Journal.