PALAKKAD: Mridangam maestro Kuzhalmannam Ramakrishnan has been given the patent for the design of a lighter version of the mridangam by the Patent Office of the Government of India. Issued by the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks.
The design has been included in the 'drum' category.
Ramakrishnan has named the instrument made of steel and fibre 'Sadmridangam' and it hardly weighs 5 kg. Cost-wise also, the Sadmridangam provides an advantage over its traditional counterpart since it will be available at nearly one-third of the cost of the traditional mridangam which is priced around Rs 15,000.
Ramakrishnan told Express it is the traditional mridangam's back-breaking weight which got him thinking on designing a lighter version.
"For the past 37 years , I have been in the field of mridangam. My father, the late, Gopalakrishna Iyer, also my first Guru, had told me mridangam should be made of heavy wood and only then will the sound resonate to the audience. I have seen Palghat Mani Iyer perform with three and four mridangams kept as standby. During those days, he used to have five disciples accompanying him and they used to carry the mridangams. But now that there are no disciples coupled with the fact one traditional mridangam will weigh at least 15 kg, such a heavy load proved a major handicap during the concerts abroad. Therefore, I planned to develop a lighter version. It took me around eight years to come out with the new version through a trial and error method. Now, one can hardly tell a traditional mridangam from a 'Sadmridangam' as they produce identical sounds," he said.
The 'Sadmridangam' can be dismantled into three pieces making it easy for performers to carry it around, said Ramakrishnan, who is an A-grade artist of AIR.
Ramakrishnan said while modifications had indeed been made to veena, violin and the keyboard, the mridangam remained unaltered.