A “Chenda Melam” means percussion using Chenda. The Chenda is used as a percussion instrument for almost all Kerala art forms like Kathakali, Kodiyattam, Theyyam etc. Chenda melam is the most popular form in Kerela, for more than 300 years. A Chenda melam is an integral part of all festivals in Kerela. There are 7 types of “melangal” viz Panchari melam, Champa, Chempada, Adantha, Anchadatha, Druvam and Pandy melam. The earlier 6 melams are called “Chempada melangal”. Other than these seven “melams”” two more melams are there in Kerala “Navam” and “Kalpam”.
The “Chenda Vattam” or the skin used on Chenda should be very thin for classic Chenda Melam like Panchari melam, Pandi Melam or for Thayambaka but for Shinkari Melam Chenda the “Chenda Vattam” are hard, which are very cheap to make. “Shinkari Melam” is not considered as a classical form of art.
The Chenda is a cylindrical percussion instrument used widely in the state of Kerala, and Tulu Nadu of Karnataka State in India. In Tulu Nadu it is known as chande.
A Chenda is a cylindrical wooden drum, and has a length of two feet and a diameter of one foot. Both ends are covered (usually with animal’s skin) with the “Chenda Vattam”. The animal skin is usually of a cow (Heifer), in a traditional Chenda other skins are not used (skin of bull, ox etc. are not used), to have a quality sound the skin from the abdominal part of the cow is taken. The Chenda is suspended from the drummers neck so that it hangs vertically. Though both sides can be used for playing, only one is actually beaten. Using two sticks, the drummer strikes the upper parchment.