Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
India: Percussion Rituals of Kerala, Vol. 2
Genres: World Music, Pop
Incredible Recording of a Full Thayambaka Performance
Michael Odle | Little Rock, AR United States | 05/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having studied the rudimentary elements of thayambaka for the past several semesters at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with Dr. Rolf A. Groesbeck, I can say with little hesitation that the amount of patience and skill required to perform thayambaka in full is immense.
Thayambaka is a genre of Hindu temple ritual drumming specific to the state of Kerala, in southwest coastal India. The genre highlights the talents of a solo chenda (barrel drum) player. Multiple "bass" and "treble" chendas and elathalam (small brass cymbals slightly larger than a wide adult hand) beat the repetitive tala (rhythmic cycle). Each section, sub-section, and sub-sub-section of thayambaka follows a relatively predictable structure, at least in the early stages of pedagogy. As one progresses towards official public/ritual performances, though, more and more improvisation and "deformation of the basic compositional structure" is allowed and encouraged.
Recorded in Kerala in January 1996 by Mr. Rolf Killius, this CD gives us not only a glimpse, but a full account of a thayambaka performance. The recording quality is excellent, and my only gripes concern some of the creepy crowd noises you might hear when playing this CD at ear-splitting volumes.
I don't have enough expertise to judge whether Pugatri Divagara Pooduval (the chenda soloist) is a traditionalist or a radicalist when it comes to the extent to which he either preserves or deforms the basic structure of the composition. All I know is that what I hear on this CD does not always accurately reflect what I have learned in my lessons at university; there must be a lot of improvisation and "advanced versions of things" compared to where I am.
The CD consists of one track only, so if you have a favorite kalam, you have to search for it. Also (and this speaks more to my patience as a listener than to anything involving the actual recording), 72 minutes of thayambaka can be tiring. I've heard the genre described as "a vehicle for an egomaniac," and, from what this CD shows, that assessment is accurate.
The liner notes are quite interesting and informative. They are printed in French and English.
If you're already familiar with the thayambaka genre, I highly recommend this recording. If you're not familiar with thayambaka, but are familiar with other traditional arts of Kerala, then I would still recommend it. If you are not familiar with any of the traditional arts of Kerala, you might want to look elsewhere for a more listener-friendly recording, as this one can be taxing."