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 ghatam

Ghatam

Clay pot from Southern India played with the hands, the top one is made in the USA by Wright Hand Drum Co.

The second photo down is a traditional ghatam in B made in Chennai (Tamil Nadu) often referred to as Madras ghatam). The black spot on the edge is a burn mark from the firing process and is common on many ghatams. It does not effect the sound or structure of the instrument at all and is purely cosmetic.

The third photo down is a ghatam from Mysore (Karnataka) in D#. Typical of ghatams from Mysore is more of a teardrop shape. These instruments are much heavier than the Madras ghatam but lighter than the Manamadurai ghatam.

The fourth photo down is a ghatam from Manamadurai (Tamil Nadu) in F. Instruments made here feature the flatter neck just like ghatams from Madras but there are significant differences between the two. Manamadurai ghatams are much heavier and the clay mixture involves adding several types of metals and egg white and these instruments are carefully constructed to help the tuning outcome after the firing process. These instruments are harder to play but the tone of the shell of the instrument is quite sharp.

The fifth photo down is a ghatam from Bangalore (Karnataka) in F, which features a rounder shape. This instrument is very light, easy to play, and has a great sound in the bass tone as well as the shell tones.

The sixth photo down is an instrument from North India found in Rajasthan and Gujarat. This particular one came from Jaipur in Rajasthan where it is known by two names and serves for a domestic non-musical purpose as well as sometimes being used as a musical instrument. This clay pot is known as matka, features an almost perfectly round shape (tuned to C#), and is made in many villages in and around Jaipur (Rajasthan) and Gujarat. The matka is used to store water and sometimes yogurt (curd), and can also be used as a cooking vessel. When used as a musical instrument in folk music, it is known as ghara and is played in a similar manner as the South Indian ghatam but the technique and rhythmic style is not as refined as that of Carnatic ghatam. Another difference is that the ghara is often traditionally played with metal rings on the thumbs, index, middle, and ring fingers of both hands (but players vary on how many rings and fingers are used). There are a few versions of this instrument. Some are made from a black clay that typically comes from a single area in Rajasthan while many others in Rajasthan and Gujarat are made from a reddish clay. A third version of the ghara is made from reddish clay but features a much flatter, squat shape. Both of the red clay types can also be found highly decorated with colorfully painted designs (pictured below) while the black ones are usually plain and unfinished. The black gharas (or matkas) are extremely light but very dense and have a huge sound. The shell tones ring in a bell-like fashion with much more of a sustain than the various South Indian ghatams (although the Mysore ghatam comes close). The bass tones of this instrument are also very prominent. Since these instruments are fired at a much higher temperature for a longer time than South Indian ghatams, there is more consistency between instruments in terms of Western pitch. In other words, there is much less variation in the tuning when compared with ghatams from South India, which can range from a low B up to a high A chromatically. Gharas/Matkas are usually found with a range from approximately C or C# to D (or slightly higher) although there does not seem to be any indication that these instruments are constructed with tuning considerations. Other spellings for matka include mutkay and madga.

The bottom photo is of traditional musicians in Gujarat in North India in which is pictured a player with rings performing on one of the more squat, saucer-shaped red gharas. Such gharas are also played in Pakistan.

 

 

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