The Thavil is an ancient South Indian percussion instrument associated with Tamil music and musicians from ancient times this instrument is popular on the classical music platform and is the only accompanying instrument to the nadaswaram (a popular blowing instrument). This pair is popularly seen at weddings in South India. It is generally an outdoor instrument and is popularly seen in temples of South India. It is huge barrel-like instrument carved out of a single block of rose, jack or any other suitable wood. Strong pieces of hide are placed on either sides and these are Joined with a thick leather strap across the drum.
A belt made from strong material is attached to the drum. This belt is tied behind the neck and back of the performer when he stands or walks. The thavil is played with a stick in the left hand for bass sounds and in the right hand small asbestos caps are worn on the tips of the fingers and this provides the loud cracking and treble sounds. The thavil only accompanies the nadaswaram or does solo performances in which a very high standard of rhythmic intricacies are attained.
Great masters of the thavil in the past were Mallaikottai Panjami, Nidamanagalam Minakshisundaram Pillai, and Palani Muthiah Pillai Etc.
Present day maestros are Haridwamangalam Palanivelu Valalyapatti Subramaniam etc.