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date: 14 December 2019


  • Alastair Dick


Elongated barrel drum of ancient and medieval India. The name occurs in Sanskrit from epic and classical times, and is probably of non-Aryan origin. Ancient references are to a loud drum, in contexts of war, public announcements, and so on, often compared to thunder by the classical poets, and also used in palaces and in temple worship. The dramaturgic treatise Nātyaśāstra (early centuries ce) classes the paṭaha among the secondary (pratyaṅga) drums of the theatre, not precisely tuned, and used for their sound effects and associations.

By medieval times, however, though still of this loud nature, the paṭaha had clearly become of greater musical importance; the encyclopedic Sangītaratnakara (early 13th century) gives it first place among drums, and by far the greatest space to its techniques and repertory. This work discusses two types of this drum, the larger mārga paṭaha and the smaller deśī, or regional, one. The former name connotes the ‘high tradition’ (it is used both in recital music, ...

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