The stark beats of the Thavil signaled the beginning of the pooja and all around the kovil gathered near the main shrine. Positioning myself, so that I could observe both the intriguing playing of the Nadaswaram and the pooja, I felt myself slowly being captured by the harmony that swirled, drawing me into the rhythm that encircled the periphery of the kovil.
The Nadaswaram consists of seven finger-holes while the five additional holes at the bottom are utilized as controllers. Equipped with a range of two and a half octaves akin to the flute – the sound that arises is both intense and powerful. Unlike the flute, the technique used when playing the Nadaswaram involves not just the partial closing and opening of the finger-holes, but also breathe control. As I stood there watching the Nadaswaram player labour through the beautiful notes that kept flowing out of the instrument I was indeed able to understand the complexity and the talent required to play this enchanting instrument. The player’s fingers moved over the finger-holes very deftly while he tried to maintain breath control in order to perfect the resounding notes.
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