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Introduction of Chenda

The chanda is a cylindrical percussion instrument used widely in the state of Kerala, Tulu Nadu of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in India. In Tulu Nadu (Coastal Karnataka) it is known as chande.

A Chenda is a cylindrical wooden drum, and has a length of two feet and a diameter of one foot. Both ends are covered (usually with animal's skin) with the "Chenda Vattam". The animal skin is usually of a cow (Heifer), in a traditional Chenda other skins are not used (skin of bull, ox etc. are not used), to have a quality sound the skin from the abdominal part of the cow is taken. The Chenda is suspended from the drummer’s neck so that it hangs vertically. Though both sides can be used for playing, only one is actually beaten. Using two sticks, the drummer strikes the upper parchment.


Origin of Chenda

Chenda is a kind of instrument for music, in prevalence since ancient era. It was initially seen in the mythologies, sculptures and paintings related to Hinduism. It was primarily used by king’s men for announcing some important agenda to the public as well as for declaration of war. Traditionally, it was thought to be a Asura Vadyam, which couldn’t be used as an instrument of harmony. In the state of Kerala, the Chenda was seen to be used during festivals, in important ceremonies, temple instrument playing and then went on to become important for various activities related to culture and rituals. This is a kind of percussion instrument, from where complex music was produced. The music emanating is rigid and quite loud and one can hear it being played from as long as 3 kilometers. It is a heavy instrument and since ancient times has also been used in various rituals related to tantric customs of Mahakali.


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Chenda is having a body which is shaped like a cylinder and Jackwood is used to make it. It is usually of length 50 cms and diameter of 25 cms. Heifer is the material which is a kind of leather for the faces which is present. The side which is present in the left is one parchment and is plain. The side on the right has a number of hides, which are 6 in number and 7 in some, which are having diameters in decreasing order and stuck to each other. There is the leather, which is fixated by bamboo or a metal ring and then the rings on both sides are braced by using ropes. The entire drum is suspended from the player’s neck, and two sticks are used to play it. Although, playing is possible by beating both sides, in usual practice only one is beaten. The parchment on the top or outer side is usually struck with the sticks.


Playing Positions

A chenda can be played in varying ways. It is made of a cylinder shaped drum, with length of about 2 feet and 1 foot diameter. Animal skin is used to cover both ends. It is hung from the player’s neck in a vertical position. The upper hide is struck by use of two sticks. The instrument is well known for the loud sound that it gives out.


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How to Play Chenda


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