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date: 18 November 2019


  • Alastair Dick
  • , revised by Eben Graves


Double-headed barrel drum of eastern India and Bangladesh (Bengal, Orissa, and Assam). Its asymmetric clay body, about 54 cm long, is turned in two parts on a potter’s wheel (the almost identical pung of neighbouring Manipur is of wood). After the parts are joined, the body is fired in a kiln. After it cools, the maker winds cotton string around the body before covering it in a mixture of paint and rice paste. Unlike the related Indian drums pakhāvaj and mṛdaṅgam, the khol has a treble head (dahine) one-half the diameter of the bass head (bahine). This 1:2 ratio contributes to the exaggerated asymmetry of the body.

As on all Indian classical drums (of which this is the eastern representative), the heads are composite. Each head begins as two layers of cowhide laced onto a hoop (chākā) made of plaited strands of cowhide. About three-quarters of the upper skin on each face is cut away in the centre, leaving a lip around the circumference. Several layers of semi-permanent tuning compounds (...

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