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.
The instrument, made of stell and fibre and weighs 5 kg, is included in the drum category; Ramakrishnan has named it sadmridangam. Cost-wise too, the sadmridangam provides an advantage over its traditional counterpart. While a traditional mridangam costs around rs 15,000, sadmridangam will be available at nearly one-third of the amount.
Ramakrishnan told The Sunday Standard that it is the traditional mridangam’s back-breaking weight that got him thinking on designing a lighter version.
“I have been playing mridangam for the past 37 years. My father late Gopalakrishna Iyer, who was also my first Guru, had told me mridangam should be made of heavy wood, else the sound will not resonate to the audience. Palghat Mani Iyer used to perform with three or four mridangams kept as standby. He used to be accompanied by five disciples, who used to carry the mridangams. But now there are no such disciples; and since one traditional mridangam weighs at least 15 kg, the heavy load proved a major handicap during concerts abroad. So, I planned to develop a lighter version,’’ he said.
“It took me around eight years to come out with the new version through trial and error. Now, one can hardly tell a traditional mridangam from a sadmridangam as they produce identical sounds,” said Ramakrishnan, an A-grade artist of AIR.