Three years after he developed a lightweight version of the south Indian percussion instrument mridangam, it’s celebration time for the percussion maestro Kuzhalmannam Ramakrishnan. The patent office of Union government awarded the patent for the design to the innovative product. The Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks has given the patent under ‘drum’ category. Made of steel and fibre, Mr. Ramakrishnan has named the instrument as ‘sadmridangam.’
“Going by the literal meaning, mridangam is a musical instrument played softly. However, performers of this percussion instrument who accompany Carnatic musicians and dancers feel the huge weight of the instrument dampens the softness. There are occasions when the performer has to carry it on his shoulders. Transportation is also a matter of concern,” said Mr. Ramakrishnan when asked about developing the 5 kg improvised instrument.
“I feel elated as the patent is a great recognition for my sincere effort to reduce the burden of fellow practitioners of the instrument,” he said.
According to him, the sadmridangam weighs lesser than the traditional wooden mridangam but there will be no compromise on the output.
Developed with the help of a team of experts including Ratheesh Anikkode and P. Krishnadasan, the improvised instrument with all the features of mridangam ensures more mobility for artistes.
“I have already proved the clarity and finesse of the new device and there are many takers now. Traditional mridangam is made out of the wood of jackfruit tree and the weight varies between 15 kg to 30 kg. But sadmridangam hardly weighs 5 kg,” said Ramakrishnan. It can be dismantled into three parts.
In the field of percussion for over 40 years, Mr. Ramakrishnan recently brought out a book in English titled ‘Mrhythm’ that offers a method to study this classical instrument on your own. “The book was an attempt to simplify the toughest lessons on the mridangam for the ordinary man. Now this instrument also aims at bringing Carnatic music tradition closer to the general public,” he said.
The winner of Layaratna title, Ramakrishnan holds the world record for the longest performance on a hand drum for his 301-hour non-stop mridangam playing.
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