The Tavil is the drum that is traditionally used in the Nagaswaram ensemble but in recent years, it has been experimented with other instruments. The Tavil is a very loud instrument with a tone very different from that of the Mridangam.


Construction: The Tavil is a double-headed drum made out of a solid block of seasoned jack wood which is hollowed out to form a cylindrical shape. The solid block is about 16 inches long and has a diameter of about 13 inches. The two heads are made of animal skin and are stretched over hoops made of hemp and bamboo sticks, which are bundled together on either side of the cylinder. The hoops are fastened by interlaced leather straps or braces. A band of leather runs over the braces around the middle of the drum and is used to vary the timbre marginally. The tightening of the band stretches the skin and raises the timbre.

Tuning: The Tavil is not tuned to any particular pitch.

Playing technique: The left head is played with a thick stick while the right is played with the fingers of the right hand. Caps made of hardened rice-paste are worn on the right fingers.

Musical Expressions