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Publisher's Summary

The mrdangam is an integral part of the Karnatik stage, its primary percussion instrument. Yet - startling as this is - the instrument as we know it is only a century old. T.M. Krishna investigates the history of the mrdangam and meets the invisible keepers of a tradition: the mrdangam makers.

The making process is an intellectually, aesthetically and physically taxing one. From acquiring the skins for the circular membranes and straps to the wood for the drum, from curing the material to the final construction, and at the end of it all, making sure that it has the tone that the mrdangam player wants, mrdangam-making is also a highly nuanced operation at every stage.

While several artists have been credited with the evolution of the instrument, including the stalwart Palghat Mani Iyer, none of them had knowledge of a fundamental aspect of the making: hide. The quality of the hide and how it is cured, cut, stretched, bound and braided impacts the tone, timbre and sound of the instrument. This requires a highly tuned ear and an ability to translate abstract ideas expressed by musicians into the corporeal reality of a mrdangam. Yet, their contribution to the art of the mrdangam is dismissed as labour and repair - when it is spoken of at all.

There are legendary mrdangam players, yes; there are also distinguished mrdangam makers, many of them from Dalit Christian communities, who remain on the fringes of the Karnatik community. Sebastian and Sons explores the world of these artists, their history, lore and lived experience to arrive at a more organic and holistic understanding of the music that the mrdangam makes.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2020 T.M. Krishna (P)2020 Audible, Inc.

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Great book, Pathetic narration

Great research work by T M Krishna. A real work of passion.

Unfortunately, the narration is pathetic. I can't recall a single Indian language word, whether it is Sanskrit, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada or Telugu, including common names, place names or technical nomenclature that the narrator pronounced correctly. The narrator should do basic home work at least, as many times, his odd pronounciation gives exactly the opposite meaning or gibberish to such a well researched work by a legendary musician. Or Audible should choose a narrator with some familiarity of South Indian languages

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Well Researched; Very Well Written

Though there were biases and prejudices of the author, it's a well researched and well written work. Narration could have been better, especially those Tamil words could have been saved from being murdered.

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Great Read. Disappointing Narrator.

Narrator was disappointing. Should have been read by someone who could pronounce Tamil words correctly

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A story that needs to be heard!

The fact that we bring our mindsets into anything we pursue is undeniable. This is a story developed ground up from the personal interviews with mridangam maker wizards and artists. It reveals the caste lines and how they turn into prejudices in these artist interactions with makers. Sometimes, makers themselves perpetuate it. Reading is good.. He tried hard with Tamil lines. But mutilated basic Sanskrit words. It's a shame that TMK or his editor didn't catch it before approving it for release.