Chande - The Indian Percussion Instrument

Information about Chande the Indian Percussion Instrument

About Chande Chande is South Indian Percussion Instrument. Chande are cylindrical drums are from Kerala, are generally heard as an accompaniment with the Traditional Classical Dance of Kerela, Kathakali. It is made of wood from jackfruit tree, suspended from the shoulders of the Chande player more or less vertically. The upper face is beaten with sticks to create sound and rhythm.

Chande measures around 2 feet in length with a diameter of 1 foot. Both sides of Chenda are covered with skin. The artists hang Chenda in their neck so that it remains vertical facing the upper parchment of the covered skin. The drummer strikes the upper parchment using two sticks. Chenda produces very loud sound. There are three main types of Chenda- Uruttu chenda (for playing variations), Veekku chenda (one which beats the basic rhythm) and the Acchan chenda.

Chande is an Indian Percussion Instrument - a type of drum used in the traditional and classical music mainly in Southern India. This Indian Percussion Instrument is used as a rhythmic accompaniment in several dance forms and dramas of Kerela in South India like Kathakali and Yakshagana. Chande are of two different types - the Badagu Thittu Chande belonging to the Northern School and Thenku Thittu Chande belonging to the Southern School. The Southern School Chande is also spelt `chenda’ and is used exclusively in the art forms of southern costal Karnataka and Kerala.

History of Chenda: History of Chenda or Chande goes back to ancient era. Their presence and mention has been found in Hindu sculpture, painting, and mythology. The chande is often shown and depicted as an instrument which was used to declare war. This Indian Percussion Instrument, Chande is capable of producing some very complicated rhythms that can be heard from more than 3 km.

Making of Chande: Chandes’ body is made from wood of jackfruit tree found in South India. The circular drum head is made of processed cow skin. Usually there are 16 hinges that hold the drum head to the wooden trunk with the help of thick ropes. The wedges inserted inside these ropes are then twisted to tighten or loosen the drum head as required, while tuning Chenda. A tubular wooden wedge is placed at the head end of Chenda is used by the stick of dominant hand. The chande as the rule states, should be tuned to the tonic of the singer.

How to Play Chande or Chenda The chande is played by resting it vertically on the floor with the help of two sticks. These are flexible sticks usually made from a certain type of bamboo. The head of this stick used for the dominant hand is thicker than the rest of the body. The body continues to taper and towards the end where the drummer is supposed to hold the stick is of normal size. The second stick is slightly thicker and less tapered than the first one used by dominant hand.

The dominant stick in most cases generally rests or is positioned  at the edge of the drum head and it is rolled in a certain manner to produce the famous fluttering sound. It is this function, feature or quality in Chande that gives this indian percussion isntruemnt an advantage of producing multiple fillers in between the beets which may not be possible for human hands or fingers to produce on Chande.

Training: There are many institutes and training schools in India and abroad (run by Indians and foreigners trained traditionally in Indian institutes) to impart training to individual seeking it. There are some online training tutorials and books on playing Chande, which have also gained popularity worldwide.

To take the tradition forward by way of training and passing this skill down to the new generation, Kerela government started Kshetra Kala Peedum, a training school in 1982 on the premises of the famous Vaikom Mahadevar Temple. The school conducts three-year courses in sacred singing, nadaswaram besides imparting training in various percussion instruments including chenda, edakka, thimila, maddhalam, tavil etc. Thirty fresh admissions are done each year. This selected group of students is provided for with free accommodations including the pocket money. Admission is restricted to boys between fifteen and twenty who have successfully completed their high school. They are selected based on an aptitude test conducted by the Kshetra Kala Peedum

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