Name: Pakhawaj.
Type: Membranophones > Drums > Barrel.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 211.22
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The pakhawaj [in Hindi: पखावज pakhavaj] or mridang is a barrel-shaped, two-headed drum, having its origins in the Indian subcontinent. It is a variant and descendant of the older mridang.

Usage: The pakhawaj is considered the main drum used by percussionists and ensembles under the dhrupad school. The use of the drum is found outside of druphad. The pakhavaj has a low, mellow tone, very rich in harmonics.

Set horizontally on a cushion in front of the drummer’s crossed leg, the larger bass-skin is played with the left hand, the treble skin by the right hand. The bass face is smeared with wet wheat dough which acts as the kiran and is the cause of the vivid bass sound the pakhavaj produces.

Tuning: The Pakhawaj is tuned like the tabla, with wooden wedges that are placed under the tautening straps. The fine tuning is done on the woven outer ring which is part of the skin. The bass skin is traditionally prepared for playing by applying a freshly made batter of flour and water in order to receive its low-pitched sound.


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