Name: Chanda.
Type: Barrel Drum > Membranophones.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 211.221.1
Country: Kerala, Karnataka & Tamil Nadu, India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The Chanda or chande [in Malayalam: ചെണ്ട, [tʃeɳʈa] is a barrel drum used widely in the state of Kerala, Tulu Nadu of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in India. In Tulu Nadu Coastal Karnataka it is known as chande.

Construction: A Chenda has two sides, the left side called [in Malayalam: “Edamthala” ഇടം തല Left Head] and the right head [in Malayalam: വലം തല Valamthala]. The “Edamthala” is made of only one/two layer of cow skin and the “Valamthala” will have a five / seven layer skin, so as to have a bass sound.

The skin are dried under shadow and fastened on wooden rings [In Malayalam: ചെണ്ട വട്ടം Chenda Vattam, ചെണ്ട വട്ടം] made of the trunk of a locally available palm tree [Eeranpana] or bamboo, using a gum prepared from the seed of a tree called “pananchi maram”.

The circular frame is kept in a vessel, boiled for an entire day and then bent in the form of circle and dried up. The body of the Chenda which is 1 ft in diameter and 3.81 cm 1.5 inches thickness is made of the soft wood of the jackfruit tree [in Malayalam: വരിക്ക പ്ലാവ് Varikka Plavu].

Whether the student is under apprenticeship or group of students; the learning of the chanda is done in a traditional manner. The students have to practice on a stone or wood using a strong and thick stick usually made of tamarind tree bark. The learning stick would be 29 cm in length, 3 cm in diameter on one side and 2.5 cm on other side of the stick. Once the learning on stone is finished, students learn on Veekku Chenda [വീക് ചെണ്ട] or the Valam Thala [വലം തല] part of the Chenda which is made of multiple layer of skin. The “Valam Thala Chenda” is played using a long and thin stick. Once the students master to play on “Valam Thala Chenda”, the students start learning on the Uruttu Chenda [ഉര്രുട്ട് ചെണ്ട] or the Edam Thala [ഇടം തല] part of the Chenda which will have only one layer of skin.

While striking on a Chanda with two sticks, the stick on the right hand is hit on the upper part, little above the center part of the “Chenda Vattam” and the stick on the left hand is hit on the lower part. Little below the center of the “Chenda Vattam”.

In Kerala a traditional Chenda learning always start and end with a “Ganapathi Kai” [ഗണപതി കൈ] it is a prayer and dedication done to the Hindu god Ganapathi.

A “Ganapathi Kai” consists of 37 beats.

Gi… Kam…

Na.Ka. Tha.Ra. Kaam…

Dha.Ri. Ki.Da. Dhi.Ka. Tha.Ra. Kaam…

Na.Ka. Tha.Ra. Kaam…

Dhi.Ki. Na.Na. Kaam…


Dha.Ri. Ki.Da. Dhi.Ka. Tha.Ra. Kaam…

The letters starting with “G” (ഗീ) and “K” (ക) are beaten using left hand and others by right hand.

ഗീ…. കാം……

ണ ക ത ര കാം

ധി രി കി ട ണ ക ത ര കാം

ണ ക ത ര കാം

ധി കാം… ധി കാം…


ധി രി കി ട ത ക ത ര കാം

The thickness is again reduced by 0.63 cm or 0.25 inches, at simultaneous points separated by 10.16 cm or 4 inches. This is done in order to produce highly resonating sound. Only the wooden rings with the skin [Chenda Vattam] is replaced once the quality of the sound is not up to the mark. For regular Chenda artists an average of 15 rings are required every year.


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