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Thursday, 25 August 2011

Daniel C Tucker - Mridanga Tuning

I've been exchanging a few messages with Daniel of Kirtan Central via the mridanga.net facebook page. It's really good to be in touch with musicians and teachers across the world.

Daniel runs his own blog here where you can find out about all of the great work he is doing teaching harmonium / kirtan around California, Massachusetts, New York and beyond. On the Kirtan Central site, you can also buy kirtan instruments.

It was nice to see in his press photos that Daniel is using a BINA harmonium. I visited their Southall store yesterday. He asked about tuning the baya. I forwarded him the following (full size version here) mridanga illustration to help with my description.

Jas Musicals in Southall recommend applying a small amount of water to the madian. Try not to get any on the syahi as this will dissolve and erode it (some damp cotton will help you apply it with accuracy). The water encourages the skin to stretch / loosen. You may need to do this a few times (let it dry in between applications) to get the slack you are looking for. Don't get the kinar wet as it will start to warp and raise from the skin beneath (possibly causing a buzzing sound every time you hit the drum).

BINA Musicals, also in Southall simply suggest to store your drum baya side down on a cold surface. I think this works in the same way by attracting moisture from the environment. Do keep checking your drum though as it could become too lose. They also said just to keep playing as this will loosen the skin over time.

When I visited BINA to buy my first mridanga in 1993, Manu.S.Sura said to care for my drum as if it were a baby. No sudden changes or extremes in environment. If you find that your drum skin has become loose (this is more common on the baya side), then you may have to find somewhere warmer and drier to store your drum. Changing how you store your drum will usually do the trick, but be careful as repeated stretching and shrinking of the skin will inevitably cause more permanent damage.

All of this is not so important with the fibreglass Balaram and Tilak mridangas as the mylar used for their skins is not hygroscopic.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Mridanga shopping - BINA Musicals - Southall

So yesterday was shopping day! I took a trip out to GoldCoast Drums to buy West African Djembes for a project I'm running with four primary schools in Reading (read more at BeatSwap...).

I finally arrived in Southall; home to BINA musicals where I was greeted by Kuldeep.S.Sura and his son Manu.S.Sura.

Kuldeep talked with me about how proud he is of his son's musical ability, especially in playing Sitar. He also told me how his father in law; Gian Sing had established the business 75 years ago in Delhi. Gian made his first harmonium aged 21 and took it to show his guru ; Baba Nand Singhji, who blessed the instrument and declared that it would spread across the whole world. Their company profile now states:

"BINA has become a household name in select music circles and enjoys a global reputation for excellence"

They have been trading in the UK now for 36 years.

Kuldeep was keen to show me an article in the local paper that celebrates Baba Nand Singhji's birthday (8th November) each year.

Manu was very helpful throughout my visit. After showing me around some harmoniums, he took me to see the mridangas I was there to buy.

Mridanga Pranams (2)

So here's the next Pranam installment. Sri Khol Pranam. (Full size here).

View the first one here.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Devotional music links

Loose yourself in the absorbing world of devotional music with The New Zealand Hare Krishna Spiritual Network. They provide an impressive list of audio resources here where you can listen to bhajans, kirtan and Srila Prabhupada - even George Harrison makes an appearance!

Vaiyasaki tours the world sharing, performing and recording Kirtan. Visit kirtan.org to find out about his tours and other devotional music projects.

"Vaiyasaki Das's kirtan music is imported from the spiritual world. His voice is a gift from the gods"
Steven J. Rosen - Yoga of Kirtan

Krishna Das also tours and produces devotional music CD's and Books.

Visit www.krishnadas.com and click 'listen to KD'. You can select photos to view while you sit back and listen to his moving, devotional kirtan.

Mridanga Pranams (1)

'Mridanga Pranam' basically means 'Mridanga Prayer'. Because the Mridanga / Khol is a spiritual instrument (it is said to be a manifestation of Lord Balaram), it is good practice to recite one of these prayers out of respect for the instrument before playing - this focuses the players mind and helps them to cultivate an attitude of service and devotion.

Namo Jagannatha Sutayo
Namo Mridanga Namaha
Labanga Rasa Madhuri
Sahasra Guna Samyuktang
Namo Mridangaya Namo Namaha
Namo Baladevaya Namo Namaha

I offer my respectful obeisances unto the son of Jagannatha Misra (Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu). I offer my obeisances to the mridanga from which sweet and necterean sound emanates. I offer my obeisances again and again to the mridanga which has thousands of good qualities. And I offer my obeisances unto Lord Baladeva who assumes the form of a mridanga to serve Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

You can hear Bablu Das recite this pranam here.

See the alternative 'Sri Khol Pranam' here.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Mridanga groups and pages on Facebook

Here's some of the most popular Mridanga related Facebook groups and pages:

Top Mridanga resources all in one place! Stay in touch, discuss the site and share your own mridanga links and news with Mridanga.net.

Probably the largest Mridanga group on Facebook.

This page is managed by Abhijit Bhattacharjee - Teaching in LA. Click on the about section to find out course details. Also, visit his excellent YouTube channel here and don't forget to check out all the other Top Mridanga Tuition Channels available in the list on the right hand side of this page.

Currently quite a small community page, but could build up some useful content as more people join and discuss Mridanga within Facebook.

Krishna and Balaram

Most of the songs accompanied by the Mridanga are offered in a mode of devotion or service to Lord Krishna. Within the Vaisnava tradition, Krishna is understood to be the eighth avatar or incarnation of the god Vishnu. The Mridanga is understood to be a manifestation of Lord Balaram; Krishna's brother. In Bengal, it is respected so highly that it is called 'Sri Khol'. Here we see Balaram (left) and Krishna (right).

An Etching Of The Mridanga Drum

I found this old mridanga etching a while ago and recently came across it again. Read some text about it here.