History And Use Of Chenda Musical Instrument In English

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History And Use Of Chenda Musical Instrument

History –

  • The chenda is a cylindrical percussion instrument originating in the state of Kerala and widely used in Karnataka and Tulu Nadu in Tamil Nadu in India.
  • In Tulu Nadu, it is known as Chende. It is highly recognized as a cultural element in Kerala and Tulu Nadu.
  • This instrument is famous for its loud and harsh sound. A chenda has two sides, the left side is called “Adamathala” (left head) and the right side is called “Valamathala” (right head).
  • “Edamathala” is made of only one/two layers of cow skin and “Valamathala” will have five/seven layers of skin, so that the bass sound.
  • The skin is dried in the shade and tied on wooden rings made from locally available palm trees (Iranpana) or bamboo trunks, using a glue prepared from the seeds of a tree called “panchi maram” .
  • The circular frame is placed in a pot, boiled for a whole day and then folded into a circle and dried.
  • The body of chenda which is 1 feet in diameter and 1.5 inches thick is made of soft wood of jackfruit tree.
  • The thickness is again reduced to 0.25 inches, separated by 4 inches at the points together.
  • This is done to produce highly resonant sound. Only wooden rings are replaced with skin (chenda vattam) when the sound quality is not up to the mark. An average of 15 rings are required every year for regular chenda artists.

Use –

  • The chenda is mainly played in Hindu temple festivals and as an accompaniment to religious art forms of Kerala.
  • •Chenda is used as accompaniment for Kathakali, Koodiyattam, Kanyar Kali, Theyyam and many forms of dance and rituals in Kerala.
  • It is also played in a dance-drama called Yakshagana (Tenku Thittu), which is popular in Tulu Nadu, Karnataka.
  • A variant of this instrument used in the northern school of Yakshagana is called Chande.
  • It is traditionally considered an asura vadyam ((demonic instrument)), which means it cannot move in harmony. Chenda is an essential musical instrument in all forms of cultural activities in Kerala.

Types of chenda

  • Chenda are of different types, depending on the diameter of the “Chenda Vattam” they are called “Ettara Veechan Chenda” (8.5), “Ompathu Veechan Chenda” , “Ompathe Kaal Veechan Chenda” (1/4) , “Ompathra Veechan Chenda” (9.5), “Ompathe Mukkal Veechan Chenda” (9 3/4 ), “Ompathe Mukkal Kali Chenda(> 9 3/4 but < 10). These chendas are used for various purposes exclusively Used for various art forms.
  • The “Chenda Vattam” of “Uruttu Chenda” is always the “Adam Thala” or “Left Head” which is made of soft, single cow skin.
  • “Uruttu” means “rolling” in Malayalam language. The performer produces the sound on “Uruttu chenda” by rotating the wrist of his right hand.
  • During the first beat the palm holding the stick will be facing the performer (in), then during the second beat (using the same right hand) the palm will be facing the opposite direction (out). This is done by rotating the wrist.
  • “Veekku chenda” or “Achan chenda” is used to keep the “thalam” or basic rhythm. The “Chenda Vattam” of “Veekku Chenda” is always the “Valam Thala” or “right head” which is made of several layers of skin to produce the bass sound.
  • “Veekku” means “severe beating” in Malayalam language. The performer produces sound on the drum using a stick without moving or rotating his wrist on “Veekku Chenda”.

Chenda Melam

  • A “Chenda Melam” means percussion using chenda. Chenda is used as a percussion instrument for almost all Kerala art forms like Kathakali, Kodiyattam, Theyyam etc.
  • Chenda Melam is the most popular form in Kerala for more than 300 years. Chenda Melam is an integral part of all festivals in Kerala.
  • There are 7 types of “Melangal” namely Panchari Melam, Champa, Chempada, Adantha, Anchdhatha, Druvam and Pandi Melam. The earlier 6 melas are called “Chempada Melangal”. Apart from these seven “melams” there are two more melams in Kerala “Navam” and “Kalpam”.

Chenda’s Question Answer-

Chenda is made of which metal?

Chenda is a cylindrical percussion instrument made of wood, parchment, leather.

When to use chenda?

The chenda is mainly played as accompaniment in Hindu temple festivals and in religious art forms of Kerala and is used as accompaniment for Kathakali, Koodiyattam, Kanyar Kali, Theyyam and many forms of dance and rituals in Kerala.

In which state chenda is played?

Chenda is played in the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

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