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Maddalam - Learning to play the melodious drum

The Maddalam is the heaviest percussion instrument of Kerala, which accompanies the art forms Panchavadyam, Keli, Kathakali, Krishnanattom and Thullal.

It is made out of the wood of the jackfruit tree and tied tightly with ropes. The two ends of the Maddalam are covered with leather, tightened and stretched to give different sounds. The Maddalam is found in two varities – Shuddha Maddalam and Thoppi Maddalam. To play the Shuddha Maddalam, the musician has to tie the Maddalam around his waist and to play the Thoppi Maddalam he has to suspend it from the neck. A Maddalam player plays the instrument standing throughout the performance.

Learning to play the Maddalam involves rigorous training. The trainee has to go through a strenuous process to be able to play the heaviest percussion instrument.