1. How durable are the synthetic drum heads used in these Mrudangas?
The drum head is made from one of the most rugged drum materials in the world and should last for many years under normal playing conditions. To give an idea, this material has 1/3rd the tensile strength of steel! Further, areliability was conducted in which the right drum head was beaten 35lakhs (3.5 million) times using an electrical beater and after the test, the drum head remained intact with no loss of resonance or sustain.During the course of the development of these Mrudangas over the past 5 years, not a single head was found to be damaged during extended trials. That said, the life of the head does depend on how the drum head is handled. Hard hitting the drum head beyond reason will certainly damage the drum head.
2. What is the effect of fluctuations in temperature and humidity on the pitch of the synthetic Mrudanga?
The drum head material used here is nearly impervious to variations in humidity and temperature. In general, the pitch stability depends on both the head and shell. Our fiberglass shells are constructed from materials that do not change much with temperature and humidity. Technically speaking, these materials have verylow coefficient of thermal expansion and thus negligible amount of pitch variation is noticed when the temperature goes up or down or when the humidity changes.
3. Is the tone of the synthetic Mrudanga identical to that of the conventional Mrudanga constructed with wood and animal skin?
First, it should be noted that there are considerable differences in the tone even amongst the traditionally constructed Mrudangas. So, it is natural to expect some tonal differences between the traditional Mrudanga with wood-animal skin and the synthetic Mrudanga with fiberglass shell and synthetic drum heads. However, since the Karane modifies the overtones to a harmonic series, these differences are hardly noticeable, and moreover, everything that can be played on a conventional Mrudanga can easily be played on the S.R.I Mrudanga.
The synthetic Mrudanga actually has a slightly higher volume, resonance, and sustain when compared to the conventional Mrudanga. In general, the tone from a conventional Mrudanga is described as “warm” whereas the tone of the S.R.I Mrudanga may be described as “bright”.
4. Are there any additional benefits in using synthetic Mrudangas?
This is a very important question. There are several additional features in the S.R.I Mrudanga that are not found in the traditional Mrudanga. The first thing one notices in this Mrudanga is its aesthetically pleasing appearance. In a conventional nut-bolt Mrudanga, the hooks and bolts project out of the shell giving it an unpleasant look.Moreover, the metal hooks in these Mrudangas may also cause injury to the fingers while playing the instrument. In the S.R.I Mrudanga, the nuts and bolts are seated conveniently and, in addition, most of the tuning hardware is concealed, thus completely avoiding the possibility of any injury to the hand while playing the instrument.
Another remarkable feature of the S.R.I Mrudanga is its light weight. This makes the transportation of the instrument very easy. Yet it is not too light. If the instrument becomes too light, it starts to move and roll while playing, which is completely unacceptable. Thus the S.R.I Mrudangas have just the right amount of weight.The S.R.I Mrudangas are also impervious to weather and are easy to maintain. In fact, the entire instrument (including the drum heads) can be cleaned using a damp cloth, something that is unthinkable in a conventional Mrudanga.
Another major advantage is that there is no need to replace or repair the Karane frequently. The Karane will last as long as the drum head. It may be recalled that in the traditional Mrudanga, the Karane is made of boiled rice and other materials like iron powder. The adhesion of the Karane to the skin is through the starch which acts like glue. In the case of the S.R.I Mrudanga, the Karane is chemically bonded to the drum head membrane so that it does not fall off or wither away with time.This eliminates the need to run to the Mrudanga repairer for Karane replacement. The head is also impervious to hand sweat.
The loading of the left head is done from inside and it is permanent. Thus, no semolina paste is required to be applied to the left head. Since the loading of the left head is done from within, it provides for a larger playing area and without the mess of the semolina paste sticking to the fingers. Once the left head is tuned to the desired bass tone, fine adjustments may be required only once in a while.
5. Western drums in general use a hoop system and a set of tension rods to attach and tune the drum heads whereas the S.R.I Mrudangas use a set of clamps on the drum head and a number of bolts and nuts to fix and tune the drum heads. Why is this difference?
The rim stroke (Nam or Meetusyllable) is a very important stroke of the Mrudanga. In a conventional Mrudanga, there are 16 points on the rim through which the leather thongs run back and forth between the left and right heads to hold them together and provide tension to the head. In the case of the nut-bolt Mrudanga too there are 16 hooks on each head that are tightened using the nuts.In the case of the western drums, a very precise adjustment of the pitches at various points on the rim is not necessary, whereas it is required to be extremely precise in the case of the Mrudanga.
The problem with the hoop system is that when a tension rod is adjusted for pitch at a given location, it alters the pitches at all other points on the rim as well. This makes perfect tuning a near impossible task. In the case of the S.R.I Mrudanga, each drum head has 16metallic clamps. On the right head, the pitch at each lug point on the rim depends mostly on the tension of the corresponding bolt and does not significantly vary when the tension is altered by a certain amount at some other lug, provided that the variation is not too large.This enables easy tuning and it is not difficult to achieve a tuning accuracy of ±1 Hz at each point on the rim. The 16 points of tuning provide equal tensioning.
When all the lug points are aligned in pitch, the instrument resonates beautifully.Western drums usually have fewer number of lugs because the tension of the drum head is distributed to the lugs by the hoop. The Mrudanga is typically tuned to higher pitches and the 16 lugs help withstand this tension by distributing it amongst them. So, these 16 lugs help in load distribution, equal and precise tensioning, and excellent resonance.
6. What if the drum heads are to be replaced?
The drum heads are available as spare parts. These can be purchased and fixed by the usersthemselves.
7. What about other spare parts?
All spare parts including nuts, bolts, screws, and clamps are available withus.
8. What is the warranty on the products?
The warranty for the shell is one year from the date of purchase and for the drum heads, the warranty is six months from the date of purchase. The warranty covers only manufacturing defects and will be void if the instrument is used with negligence.