The percussion art has a glorious thick legacy in our culture. Over the years there
has been a tremendous growth in percussive arts and along with it came an influx of some
great mridangam players who gave a totally new dimension to the way mridangam is played
and perceived. Accompanists of those days got eclipsed by the overpowering personalities
of giants like Mahavaidyanatha Sivan. Though there were mridangists like Narayanaswamy
Appa and Kumbakonam Azhaganambi Pillai who were quite renowned, it was only Pudukkotai
Dakshinamurthy Pillai who, with his disarming showmanship, raised the status of
percussionists to the new heights. Then dawned the golden era of percussionists
when the one and only Palghat Mani Iyer appeared on the scene. Pazhani Subramnya
Pillai was another star of this era.
Kumbakonam Azhaganambi Pillai is credited with a throbbing style with his thekas
and pharans in double and quardruple tempos set in cross rhythm to the kriti and his crisp
muktayis lending vivacity to the music. This style of playing was later changed into one
in more or less the same tempo as the song. Another inheritor of the Pudukkotai tradition
and a successful contemporary of Pazhani Subramanya Pillai on the concert platform was Ramanathapuram
C.S.Murugabhupathi whose father Ramanathapuram Chitsabi Servai, was one of the
disciples of Pudukkotai Manpoondia Pillai.
Move the cursor over the names of the great mridangam players and click on the images
or the names below to view information and details about these great
The most famous exponent of theTanjavurtradition
was Tanjavur Vaidyanatha Iyer. His attractive style produced an irrepressible
desire in young aspirants from the Malayalam land like Palghat Mani Iyer and
Thiruvananthapuram (later Tanjavur) T. K. Murthy to become his disciples. Vaidyanatha
Iyer is believed to have systematised the mridangam lessons for students.
The other great mridangam vidwans of that era without whom this Hall of Fame would
be incomplete are Tanjore Ramdasa Rao and Palghat Ramchandra Iyer, Venu Naicker,
Neendamangalam Meenakshisundaram Pillai, Umayalpuram Kodandarama Iyer, Saakkotai Rangu
Iyengar, Shaathapuram Subba Iyer, Devakkotai Sundararaja Iyengar, Vellore Gopalachari,
Alangudi Ramachandran, Thinnium Venkatarama Iyer, Thiruvilwamalai S.Vilwadri Iyer,
H.Puttachar Coimbatore Ramaswamy, T. Ranganathan, Mavalikere Krishnan Kutti Nair,
K.S.Manjunath, M.L.Veerabhadraiah, Tanjore Upendran, Palghat Sundaram and K.M.Vaidyanathan
to name a few.
Palghat Mani Iyer's style had a profound influence on many young aspirants like Palghat
Raghu, Vellore Ramabhadran, Trichy Sankaran, Umayalpuram Sivaraman, Karaikudi Mani and
Guruvayur Dorai who are our senior laya exponents in the contemporary concert
platform.Vellore Ramabhadran enhances the concerts by his gentle playing,He never
uses Saadam while playing for Keerthanais and Sarvalagu Swaraas.
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