The very word melam means the inter-mingling or union of the instruments like the two chenda varieties ( Uruttu and Veekkan) , the cymbals and two minor types of pipe and horn (kuzhal and kombu). The tradition of melam is usually handed on to the practitioners from their teachers called Gurus . Its enjoyment and admiration passes from generation to generation unobstructed and it still has such a wide constituency of admirers. While tradition is kept alive, there are also experiments of ambitious performers that continually add to its variety. Most innovations are supported by admirers. All these point directly to its never ending scope for further improvisations. In melam there is actually little scope for time sequences and as such it is the rhythm units that are punctuated with time. The leading , directing modes ,or gathiyaksharas are doubled , creating units in the previous structures , and in consonance with the rhythm structure , the ghanda, upaghnda structures are formed to keep alive at the same time the rhythm of the basic structure. Athivilamba, vilamba, madhyama, drutha , and athidrutha are the vilambakalas or the layouts of time divisions . Based on them, even five different time sequences are presented. This is actually the mela tradition. Unlike the practice in music, the betas and waves of the palm alone keep up the time sequences in melam. In other words, the measurement or punctuation of time by dint of fingers or hands are not possible in it. While the beating can be audible , the measurement by the wave of the palm can be treated as the silent reckoning of the punctuations of time. In the case of the time divisions of the rhythm structures called the ghandas , upaghandas ( the pieces and sub-pieces), etc. , the initial aksharakalam is reckoned as silent , and the following ones are treated as both audible and silent (sasabda and nissabda).
Published on Sep 13, 2012