Mridangam - Learn to play

Mrindangam is an ancient percussion istrument of South India. It forms the primary accompaniment as the rhythem element of a carnatic music ensemble. The word 'mridangam' is derived from the Sanskrit words Mrid and Angam - Mrid meaning 'clay' and Angam meaning 'body'. Sri N.Ramakrishna is this course takes you through the various facets of a Mridangam, highlighting playing styles, fingering techniques and giving musical lessons to help get the beginner started.

Instructor: Ramakrishnan N

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Suggested Time

4 weeks







Unit 1: Introduction

History & Artist Profile 8 min

The Mridangam has its origins in Indian art & mythology wherein it is stated that Lord Nandi (the Bull God),  played the instrument during the performance of the Taandav  dance by Lord Shiva. It is the primary rhythmic instrument in Carnatic music. It is similar in appearance to the Pakhawaj which is a part of Hindustani Music but there are major differences in its construction and technique. Sri N Ramakrishnan is an accomplished Mridangam player having being taught by the likes of Harihara Sharma as well as ghatam vidwan T.H.Vinayakaram.
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Unit 2: Sound & Elements

Components & Varieties 3 min

Mridangam is a double-sided drum which is made of a hollowed piece of jackfruit wood about an inch thick. The two membranes on either side are dissimilar in width which allows for the production of both bass and treble sounds. The types of Mridangam depend upon the pitch produced which in turn determines the height of the instrument. The two apertures of the drum are made with goatskin and clapmed togetherr with leather straps around the circumference of drum. These straps help stretch out the membranes on each side, allowing them to resonate when struck.
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Tips & Sound 0 min

The bass aperture is known as the thoppi or eda bhaaga and the smaller aperture is known as the valanthalai or bala bhaaga. The larger apertureproducing the lower pithed sounds is placed on the left for a right hand dominant player. This combination of two different circular membranes leads to the production of distinct harmonics.
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Unit 3: Lessons & Patterns

Basic Lessons 22 min

The 7 notes are introduced on the Mridangam in this chapter which helps initiate the student to the basic lessons moving forward. The finger placement is essential to get the correct sound of the notes. The notes are combined in different ways to develop the students muscular memory so that the progression to later lessons is achieved with ease.
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Mridangam Patterns 8 min

Now a combination of the various notes in an advanced form are explained here which improves the versitality of the student. These are challenging variations that take time to perfect. Playing at a lower tempo is recommended to get a firm grip on these innovations.
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Unit 4: More in Depth

Pharans 30 min

There are 12 Pharans while playing any percussion instrument in Carnatic Music where artists perform a series of fast continous passages. These passages have complexity that one cannot progress to unless the fundamentals of the earlier lessons are mastered.
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