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Ghatams are used by Carnatic musicians of South India, and Udu drummers in world music. Although the ghaṭam looks like an ordinary domestic clay pot, it is made specifically to be played as a pitched percussion clay drum. The tone of the pot depends on numerous factors, most importantly the even thickness all around to produce an even tone regardless where the drum is struck on the neck.
The Manamadurai ghatam is thicker and heavier than the Madras Ghatams with tiny shards of metal ( brass/copper and other "secret" ingredients that the potter mixes) into the clay. Add in the unique clay of that area, and the result is a ghaṭam that requires greater finger force to play, but one that exudes a delightfully rich tone with an even and clear sound, which is overwhelmingly favored by the pros.
These are made exclusively in the town of Manamadurai in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Although, makers outside of the town of Manamadurai claim to make “Manamadurai” ghatams, only the ghaṭams made with the local clay have this unique sound. For hundreds of years now, this Manamadurai soil has enigmatically proven to contain some naturally occurring ingredients which produce this unique tone. This tone is still unavailable in ghatams made elsewhere in India.
Ghatams are hand made and our ghatam maker will typically make a batch of about 100 ghatams at a time. It takes about a month for the maker to prepare the clay, form the shape, and fire the batch. About 50% of the batch is not usable and is destroyed.
Due to the imprecision of the process, the ghaṭam’s actual pitch (shruti) can only be determined after they are finished. For example, the middle A (440 Hz) ghaṭam that the manufacturer may have available in his inventory may be one that has a pitch of 420 or 460Hz. Consequently, one has to hand-pick ghaṭams from the maker’s inventory to find ones that match to the closest pitches, and have most consistent intonations across the neck circumference.
Please also note that ghaṭams almost always have cosmetic imperfections such as minor chips and uneven color, which need to be celebrated as the uniqueness of this ancient artisan process, rather than as an imperfection in a production process. No two ghatams are ever alike.
Ultimate Guru Music currently stocks only Manamadurai ghatams. They are sourced from the family that has been making ghatams for 150 years and this is the same family that makes ghaṭams for grandmaster Vikku Vinayakram. Our experienced personnel make frequent trips to Manamadurai to select the best ghatams available in each key we stock. We thoroughly enjoy playing them every day and hope you do too.
Listen to the stunning sound of the Ultimate Guru Music Ghatam here.
A ghatam cushion and a copy of our well-received "The Language and Technique of South Indian Percussion" 2-DVD set in its original cover is included with your purchase.
DVD one contains performances from the Grammy award winning Ghatam player, Pandit Vikku Vinayakram
DVD two contains a step by step explanation and training on how to play select compositions on the Ghatam.
Ultimate Guru Gig Bag for Ghatam available separately
Ultimate Guru Concert Grade Manamadurai Ghatam Features are :