The Theory and Practice of Mridanga

This is a very useful and elaborate book(310 pages - A4 size) on Mridangam, authored by Sri Dharmala Ramamurthy, that covers basic and advanced concepts and exercises in playing Mridangam in great detail. Also, this book explains the construction of Mridangam in an un-ambiguous and detailed manner along with pictures.

This book is written based off the work done on the Telugu version written by the same author. The first English edition was printed in 1973 and the second edition was printed in 2001.

The manuscript for the original version of this book(Mridanga Thatwam in Telugu) was first presented to Sri Palghat Mani Iyer, the world renowned Mridanga Vidwan for his authentic opinion . He went through the book and felt over-joyed. He described the book as a stupendous work indeed. He also was very glad to release the first edition of the book.See the photos of this releasing function and other functions. Sri Bala Murali Krishna and several other stalwarts also showered great praise on this effort. Click here to see the commendations/opinions expressed by several stalwarts on the Telugu version of this book.

The Central Sangeeta Nataka akademy referred the book to experts like Sarvasri Mudikondan Venkataram Iyer and Tinnem Venkataram Iyer. They carefully scrutinised the book and found it to be of great worth for publication and recommended grant-in-aid to Sri Dharmala Rama Murthy.
The details of the book are explained below:

In this book, the author explained the relation between Kaala and Maarga and about Jaathi and Gathibheda differences and the Dasapraanas of Thaala. The right and left hand/finger positions to be used in playing the Mridangam are explained with photos along with the exact sounds that can be produced in that position. The book contains several practical exercises/lessons that are explained along with the notation for the hand/finger positions to be used . The Paatantharas(lessons) for the thirty five Thaalas and the duration of laghu, druta, anudruta are also given. The construction of Mridangam is explained in great detail in a scientific way.

Very many details about the technique of the playing have been given for the use of interested students. It is no exaggeration to say that beginners can easily practise by themselves with the aid of this book. Students can acquire in short time a good style of playing on the instrument at higher degrees of speed and also provide good rythmic effects to compositions when sung.

There are also many details to help advanced students. In the tabular forms, calculations of Kriya-Aksharas for several varieties of Muktaayis(Korvais in Tamil) including Gathi Bheda are furnished. One can understand the form of the muktaayi, its Jaathi, Gathi, and Kaala and also learn to use Thaala Kriya Jathis from a close study of the tables. All necessary explanation with examples has been given for easy understanding.

Price: $35 (excluding $5 for shipping within USA)

The book is available in India and in USA. Further information can be obtained through e-mail at

In the books The Theory and Practice of Mridanga in English and Mridanga Thatwam in Telugu, the positions of the fingerings of right and left hand are the same in two books for the self practise of the learners. That are given below with photos and with symbols and their serial numbers.

Sri Dharmala Venkateswara Rao Chaatu, c
Mridangam positions illustrated by Sri Dharmala Venkateswara Rao No: 1, Symbol: c, Position Name: Chaatu
Back chaatu, bc Naadam, n
No: 3, Symbol: bc, Position Name: Back chaatu No: 4, Symbol: n, Position Name: Naadam
Meetu, m Front meetu, fm
No: 5, Symbol: m, Position Name: Meetu No: 6, Symbol: fm, Position Name: Front meetu
Meetu 2, m2 Meetu 3, m3
No: 7, Symbol: m2, Position Name: Meetu 2 No: 8, Symbol: m3, Position Name: Meetu 3
Naatu 2, 2 Naatu 3, 3
No: 9, Symbol: 2, Position Name: Naatu 2 No: 10, Symbol: 3, Position Name: Naatu 3
Ara chaatu, c Ara chaatu 2, c2
No: 11, Symbol: c, Position Name: Ara chaatu No: 11, Symbol: c2, Position Name: Ara chaatu 2
Left (up) 1, l Left (center), lc
No: 14, Symbol: l, Position Name: Left (up) 1 No: 15, Symbol: lc, Position Name: Left (center)
Left (down) 2, ld2 Left (down) 3, ld3
No: 17, Symbol: ld2, Position Name: Left (down) 2 No: 18, Symbol: ld3, Position Name: Left (down) 3
Left short (potu), ls Left long (patu), lg
No: 19, Symbol: ls, Position Name: Left short (potu) No: 20, Symbol: lg, Position Name: Left long (patu)
Left down with fingers separated, lds Left thumb, lt
No: 21, Symbol: lds, Position Name: Left down with fingers separated No: 22, Symbol: lt, Position Name: Left thumb