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Carnatic mridangam
Mahalingam Santhanakrishnan playing mridangam, Carnatic mridangam, 2018; Lexington, Massachusetts; Photography by Maggie Holtzberg
Mahalingam Santhanakrishnan playing mridangam, Carnatic mridangam, 2018

Lexington, Massachusetts
Photography by Maggie Holtzberg
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Mahalingam Santhanakrishnan
Norwood, MA
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Shivendran Vytheswan
Lexington, MA
The mridangam is a two-headed cylindrical drum from India of ancient origin. Played with both hands, it accompanies vocals and melodic instruments in South Indian Carnatic music.

Mahalingam (Mali) Santhanakrishan is an accomplished mridangam artist and teacher with over two decades in the Greater Boston community. Mali's initial training began at age 10 in Chennai, India under the guru Vidwan Late Sri P. Srinivasa Iyer of the Tanjore School of Percussion. His second guru is another legend of mridangam playing, Palghat R. Raghu.

Mali has developed a distinctive style of mridangam playing and has performed for over 30 years. He provides rigorous pedagogy in his teaching. Apprentice Shivi Vytheswaran began his study with Mali at age seven. He has learned the fundamentals of the instrument and the basic art of accompanying.

Given the rhythmic complexity and unique demands of Carnatic music, this apprenticeship allow Mali to focus on providing the immersive experience needed for Shivi to advance his learning and performance skills in a relatively short time. They will focus on the sound modulation using complex hand movements including the slide motion (Gumki) on the bass side of the drum, and developing the ability to play for entry level Ragam Tanam Pallavi, to play for impromptu improvisations that are the heart of South Indian classical music.
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