World’s Loudest Non-brass Acoustic Instrument
Nadaswaram, Nadhaswaram or Nathaswaram, is a popular classical musical instrument of the southern Bharateeya states like Tamil Nadu , Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh , Kerala etc.It is the world’s loudest non-brass a coustic instrument. It is a wind instrument similar to Shehnai but much longer and has a hard wood body.
Nadaswaram is considered very auspicious in the Hindu culture of Southern Bharat. It is played in almost all Hindu weddings and temples of Southern Bharat. It is part of the family of instruments known as mangala vadya ( auspicious instrument ).The instrument is usually played in pairs and it is accompanied by a pair of drums called thavil. The body of the Nadaswaram is traditionally made out of a tree called aacha. But nowadays bamboo , brass, copper, sandalwood, ebony and ivory are also used in the making of Nadaswaram.
The Nadaswaram has seven finger- holes plus five additional holes drilled at the bottom. The holes can be closed with wax to modify the tone if so needed. It has a range of two and a half octaves, similar to the flute (Bharateeya Bansuri ), which also has a similar fingering. While in flute playing , semi and quarter tones are produced by the partial opening and partial closing of the finger – holes, in the case of Nadaswaram, they are produced by adjusting the pressure and strength of the air-flow into the pipe.
It is largely an outdoor instrument due to its intense volume and strength. It is much more suited for open space playing than any indoor playing. It is generally not an instrument to play in a theatre programme.
Nirmal Joshi ( Courtesy: Wah Bharat )