Throughout the history of kirtana, the two fundamental instruments that represented rhythm were the mrdanga and the kartal. The mrdanga (also known as a khol) is a sacred clay drum, while the kartal is a pair of finger cymbals. Most of the kartals are made of two brass (or some rare cases, silver) cymbals which are connected with some kind of cloth or rope. Figure 1.1A is a picture of the kartals. Note the brass material and the red connector between the two cymbals. The side facing down is the playing side.
                                                                         Figure 1.1A

Each kartal has two special sides. The outer edge is towards the rim of the kartal cymbal. The center is the region where there is a dip. Figure 1.1B looks on the playing side.
                                                                      Figure 1.1B

After recognizing the parts, there are two more fundamental steps in order to be able to play kartal. The first is developing clear sounds. This lesson will devote time to be able to produce clear open and clear closed sounds.

Open sounds are produced by striking the kartals on the center. Then, the right kartal moves downward while the left kartal moves upward. A nice resonant and ringing sound should emanate. Figure 1.2 shows the demonstration of this.
                                                                   Figure 1.2

Closed sounds are nonresonant sounds which do not result in a clear ringing sound. Both kartals strike each other’s center. It will almost sound like a clap.

                                                                       Figure 1.3

Practice being able to make open and closed sounds effortlessly. This is a skill that must be mastered in order to move on to second fundamental; time keeping.

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