The Ghatam is a large earthenware pot made of a special clay found only in certain villages in India. It is said to be one of India’s most ancient percussion instruments.
It is an accompaniment instrument to South Indian vocal and instrumental Music, and is also very widely used in percussion ensembles. A solo performance on this instrument provides a rare treat to listeners. The Ghatam has an opening on the top which provides the bass sounds when played with the wrists of the hands, this opening when placed against the belly of a performer gives off a deep Bass sound. The tuning of the Ghatam is done at the time of manufacture and is fixed, with the result a Ghatam artiste has to be equipped with many ghatams of different pitches. This instrument is played with the palms, wrists and fingers.
Ghatam players produce the most sophisticated rhythms. When ending a solo performance Ghatam player throws the instrument up into the air and catches it on the last beat of the time cycle.
Past maestros of the Ghatam were Palani Krishna Iyer, Umaiyalpuram Kodanatharam Iyer, Bangalore K S Manjunathan and Alangudi Ramachandran, Palghat V A Sundaram, Umaiyalpuram K Narayanaswami Iyer.