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The focus of this book (905 pages) is on the development of the two primary rhythm structures (thekas and farans) from the raw sounds to musical syllables and thenceforth onto basic strings, compound strings, sequences, avartanas and finally verses.
The first introductory chapter describes some aspects special to mridanga art and the percussion fraternity.
The second chapter deals with elementary unmetered stand-alone raw sounds which are structured into mridanga strokes and syllables for deploying them to generate sequences to fit talas.
The third chapter covers the subject of talas (musical meter) which provide an operational framework for showcasing the thekas and farans. The popular talas and the facets of tala such as syllables (aksharas), beats (mathras), cycle (avartana), string size (akshara jati), beat size (nadai), operational tempo (kala), points of resolution (sama and visama) are brought out.
The basic building block rhythm structures are the sub-strings and the strings which are a series of strokes of raw sound clubbed or coupled into units. The compound strings generated from the base strings are presented in two chapters-the fourth chapter is assigned to theka strings and fifth chapter brings out the faran strings. The cycles of sequences of strings, fitted to avartanas (metering cycles) are then integrated into verses applicable to musical accompaniment during a song, during a tani avartana or applied to a dance.
The theka verses and faran verses are separately exhibited for the popular present day talas. The chapters on theka verses (76 in all with variations) are covered over four chapters into:
• Adi tala and Rupaka tala in chaturashra nadai
• Chapu talas- Kanda, Mishra and Sankeerna chapu talas in chaturashra nadai
• Adi tala in trishra, kanda, mishra and sankeerna nadais.
• Rupaka tala and the chapu talas Kanda, Mishra and Sankeerna chapu talas in the non-chaturashra nadais.
Faran verses (39 in all with variations) which form the other pillar on which the mridanga structures rest are presented over four chapters as under:
• Farans for mridanga practice, konnakol (oral rendition) and tani avartana for Adi tala and Rupaka talas in chaturashra nadai.
• Farans for tani avartana for chapu talas-Kanda, Mishra and Sankeerna chapu talas in chaturashra nadai.
• Farans for tani avartana for Adi tala and Rupaka tala in trishra, kanda, mishra and sankeerna nadais
• Farans for tani avartana for chapu talas- Kanda, Mishra and Sankeerna chapu talas in trishra, kanda, mishra and sankeerna nadais.
The above talas in various nadais cover virtually the majority of the subject matter of mridanga. A chapter is allocated for aspects of accompaniment of mridanga for primary music, dance and solo (tani avartana).
A chapter (15) is devoted to a glossary of vernacular (desheeya bhaashe) terms and pronunciations in Devanagari. The book contains around 230 Tables, 50 Figures, 20 Equations and 20 references.