Some consider the mridangam to have mythic origins. It is said to have been played during Lord Shiva’s tandav – a dance form that signifies the destruction and creation of the world through nature’s ferocious forces. Indian folklores from the yore mention the mridangam as an accompanying instrument to Shiva’s tandav sending primordial rhythms through the heavens and earth in a tumultuous saga of destruction and creation by nature.
Shot in the stunning temple complex of the sandstone-carved Tiger Caves in Mahabalipuram in south India, this solo by one of India’s finest mridangam players, Neyveli B. Venkatesh is a great way to fill the mind with the deep, resonating sound of this fascinating double-headed drum from India. Seated in one of the caverns of the sprawling complex, Venkatesh plays a short take in Adi talam. Beginning with a few gentle taps, he whips up patterns and transposes clusters of three, four, five, seven and more (yatis) over the 8-beat cycle. He flips these patterns, turning them upside down and concluding them with a flourish of korvais.
In the tranquil afternoon transitioning to twilight in the midst of chirping birds, this crisp presentation by Venkatesh is refreshing. The sonorous sounds of his mridangam carry the reclusive quality of a hermit in deep knowledge of his calm inner-self and surroundings.
Neyveli B Venkatesh is a Chennai-based mridangam player. His rhythm training began under his father AS Balaramanan and continued under PP Venkatesan and MN Kandaswamy Pillai. His promising career has already featured top accompaniment slots and numerous collaborations, and he is renowned for superb solo performances.
Recorded at Darbar in 2017, at Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
Neyveli B. Venkatesh (mridangam)
Solo in Adi Talam