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date: 06 December 2019

Tantipānai [tantikuṇḍa]locked

  • Alastair Dick



Composite pot-drum of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, southeastern India. A medium-sized spherical pot with a short, narrow neck has its mouth covered with skin. A string passes through the pot from a metal button, coin or wooden slip resting in the centre of the skin and is threaded through several small metal ring-jingles and out of a hole in the base. It then passes up through three small wooden blocks resting on the outside wall of the pot and is attached to a small movable peg inserted into a fourth, larger wooden block resting on the pot’s shoulder; this block is kept in position by strings bound round the neck. The first element ‘tanti’ in the name of the instrument denotes the modern use of metal wire; formerly, gut was used and the instrument was known as narampupānai (Tamil) and narakuṇḍa (Telugu).

The string can be tuned with the peg to whatever pitch and tension is required for a tonic drone. The player taps the skin and the button with the left hand and right fingertips, and (according to Sambamoorthy) skin, string, and jingles, tuned to the player’s keynote, all sound together. The drum is said to be used by hill tribes and the Mala caste to communicate messages. Though its structure clearly has much in common with the widespread variable tension chordophone or ‘plucked drum’ of India, the tantipānai cannot be plucked nor, though the peg mechanism would permit it, has variable tension during play been documented....

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