Pakhawaj is essentially a north Indian version of the
mridangam and is the most common north Indian representative of the class of
barrel shaped drums known as mridang. It was once common throughout north
India, but in the last few generations tabla has usurped its position of
It has a right head which is identical to tabla except it is
somewhat larger. The left head is similar to the tabla bayan except that there
is a temporary application of flour and water instead of the black permanent spot.
There are several styles of pakhawaj playing. The most well
known and important is for the accompaniment of dhrupad and dhammar singers;
this however, is falling out of fashion. Pakhawaj is also very much used for
Orissi dancers and occasionally for kathak. It is also found in a classical
form from Rajasthan known as Haveli Sangeet.
The playing position is easy. For the right-handed person, the smaller end is placed on the right hand and the larger side is placed on the left side.
Lastly, a trainer can help impart the right technique and knowledge for playing this delicate art of the Pakhawaj.