Demala-berē [mihiňgu-berē, nāḍagam-berē]
- Natalie M. Webber
Small double-headed barrel drum of Sri Lanka. It is found mostly in the coastal region of the south-west. The drum was brought to Sri Lanka from Tamil Nadu with the genre in which it is most often used, the folk drama nāṭṭukūttu. It is almost identical with its Indian counterpart, the maddalam. Its body is made from jak wood and its shape and construction are similar to the gāṭa-berē, except that it seldom exceeds 46 cm in length and has a large badama (tuning paste) spot (which affects the tuning and timbre) on the left head. It is occasionally suspended from a sling and played standing, but more often the player squats on the ground, with the drum on his lap or on the floor.
The Sinhalese version of the nāṭṭukūttu, the nāḍagam, continues to thrive on the south-western coast. Two demala-berē players provide the rhythmic accompaniment to the songs and dances in this narrative form, one playing a simple rhythmic ostinato, the other elaborating on it. There are 14 ostinato patterns used in ...