Reinventing notes for the divine instrument

‘Panchakshari melam’, a sub-category of Pandimelam, developed by edakka percussionist Kavil Sundara Marar, is fetching him accolades

Published: 06th October 2013 03:26 PM  |   Last Updated: 06th October 2013 03:26 PM   |  A+A-

It was a unique occasion when Kavil Sundara Marar chose to play rhythm to the melodious devotional hit, ‘Chetthi Mandaram Thulasi’ for his edakka concert. “There is a wrong notion  that edakka can be played only as an accompaniment to the ‘sopana sangeetham’ near the sanctum sanctorium of the temples. This percusison instrument pours out an incredible ‘naadham’ and stands out from others solely for this credit,” says the maestro who was performing with his three-piece ‘pakkom’ for the first time at Kozhikode.

 A well-known eastern percussionist, who is the brother of renowned edakka maestro Kavil Ajayan Marar, Sundara Marar has proved his skill in chenda and thimila also. But today he has more reasons to cheer.

‘Panchakshari melam’, a sub-category of Pandimelam, developed by him, is fetching him more accolades. “Many sub categories have been developed for the Panchari melam genre. But I presume this is the first time a further sub-division is being sought for Pandimelam. The melam, which is composed of five swaras is tuned on the basis of Khanda Naada Champa thalam. I have locked in the five akshara swaras appropriately to produce the new segment,” he says.

“I am just done with the arangettam (premier performance) of the piece and soon I will be including it in my temple programme charts. Added to that I am waiting for the responses from stalwarts in this field like Mattanur Sankaran Kutty Marar,” he says.

Acquainted with the percussion genre from a tender age, Sundara Marar says that there is nothing new coming in the genre. “We are always practicing. Even our programs lasts for more than two hours. Added to that, when we tutor our students we get tutored ourselves. When you play a rhythm ten times, something new will come up in the eleventh time. That is the significance of this percussion. The only thing that has to be seen is whether those novel tunes stand the test of time and scruitiny,” he says.

But a worthy honour has never knocked his doors. Ask him why and he just smiles. “Take the edakka or chenda and play continuously for an hour. Nothing gives you more satisfaction.  Being a percussionist was my destiny and I am content with it. But I have great expectations on my Panchakshari melam,” says Sundara Marar who further adds that he is also working hard to add colour to the fading ‘Parishavadhyam’ which was a must in temples some decades ago.

“Usually, for the late night temple processions, it was

‘parishavadhyam’ that used to be played. Instruments such as Thimila, chenda and Kombu accompany it. A special rhythm pattern itself was followed for Parishavadhyam.

But of late, people have resorted to Panchavadhyam as a substitute. I had taken some training for the purpose under late Thrikambukam Krishnan Kutty Marar, who was a maestro in this field. Soon I plan to implement it in full swing at least for my programs,” he says.

Added to that, he is working on a better guru dakshina for his guru.

“Thrikambukam sir had influenced me very much. His absence is a big loss for musicians like us. Currently, I am working on one of his books. The research work is being carried on,” he winds up.


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