Ghatam
The ghatam is one of the most ancient percussion instruments of South India. It is a clay pot with narrow mouth. From the mouth, it slants outwards to form a ridge. Made mainly of clay backed with brass or copper filings with a small amount of iron filings, the size of the ghatam varies according to its pitch. The pitch can be slightly altered by the application of plasticize clay or water.

Although the ghatam is the same shape as an ordinary Indian domestic clay pot, it is made specifically to be played as an instrument. The tone of the pot must be good and the walls should be of even thickness to produce an even tone.

Ghatams are mostly manufactured in Manamadurai, a place near Madurai in Tamil Nadu. Though this instrument is manufactured in other places like Chennai and Bangalore, too, Manamadurai ghatams have special tonal quality. It is believed that the mud is of special quality. The Manamadurai ghaṭam is a heavy, thick pot with tiny shards of brass mixed into the clay. This type of ghaṭam is harder to play but produces a sharp metallic ringing sound which is favored by some players.

Playing
The pot is usually placed on the lap of the performer, with the mouth facing the belly. The performer uses the fingers, thumbs, palms, and heels of the hands to strike its outer surface to produce different sounds. Different tones can be produced by hitting areas of the pot with different parts of the hands. Sometimes the ghatam is turned around so that the mouth faces the audience and the performer plays on the neck of the instrument. The ghatam can be moved to other positions while being played. Occasionally, the performer will, to the amusement of the audience, toss the instrument up in the air and catch it. The ghatam is ideal for playing rhythmic patterns in very fast tempo.

The ghaṭam usually accompanies a mridangam.

The word ghaṭa in Sanskrit means "pot". Variations of this term are used in modern Indian languages.


WATCH VIDEO - PALYING GHATAM


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