Kanjira


Kanjira

Infobox Instrument
name=Kanjira
names=Ganjira



classification=hand percussion
range=High sound of jingles, plus some have a skin with a lower sound.
related=Riq, Buben, Dayereh, Daf, Tambourine, Frame drum
The kanjira or ganjira, a South Indian frame drum, is an instrument of the tambourine family. It is used primarily in concerts of Carnatic music (South Indian classical music) as a supporting instrument for the "mridangam". The "kanjira" is a comparatively recent innovation (having been used for fewer than 100 years), and was added to classical concerts during the 1930s.

Similar to the Western tambourine, it consists of a circular frame made of the wood of the jackfruit tree, between 7 and 9 inches in diameter and 2 to 4 inches in depth. It is covered on one side with a drumhead made of monitor lizard skin (specifically the Bengal monitor, "Varanus bengalensis", now an endangered species in India), while the other side is left open. The frame has a single slit which contain three to four small metal discs--often old coins--that jingle when the "kanjira" is played.

The "kanjira" is probably the most difficult Indian drum to play for unexplained reasons. It is normally played with the palm and fingers of the right hand, while the left hand supports the drum. The fingertips of the left hand can be used to bend the pitch by applying pressure near the outer rim. It is not tuned to any particular pitch, unlike the mridangam or the ghatam.

Normally, without tuning, it has a very high pitched sound. To get a good bass sound, the performer reduces the tension of the drumhead by sprinkling water on the inside of the instrument. This process may have to be repeated during a concert to maintain a good sound. However, if the instrument is too moist, it will have a dead tone, requiring 5-10 minutes to dry. Tone is also affected by external temperature and moisture conditions. Performers typically carry a couple of "kanjira"s so that they can keep at least one in perfectly tuned condition at any given time.

G Harishankar is widely considered to have been the greatest "kanjira" artist ever to have played this instrument.

V. Selvaganesh (son of "Vikku" Vinayakram) is a modern exponent of the "kanjira" who has played extensively with the guitarist John McLaughlin in the group Remember Shakti, as well as having recorded numerous albums with bassist Jonas Hellborg.

External links

* [http://www.narthaki.com/accompanists/ganjdivi.htm Ganjira artists in India]
* [http://www.drumdojo.com/world/india/kanjira.htm Ganjira page at Drumdojo]
* [http://www.carnatica.net/sangeet/khanjira.htm Ganjira page at Carnatica.net]
* [http://www.ganeshkanjira.com/kanjira.php Kanjira page of artist Ganesh Kumar]
* [http://www.kanjiraplayer.com Kanjira page of artist Ivan Nyusztay]
* [http://www.nscottrobinson.com/southindiaperc.php Comprehensive list of kanjira performers] , from N. Scott Robinson site


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