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  . . Karaikudi Tradition | The Basic Position

Karaikudi Veena Bhaani

The player sits cross-legged, placing the kudukkai on his left thigh while holding the kudam by gently pressing the right thigh against it. The instrument will be a little slanted if the left thigh is positioned slightly higher by placing it on the right ankle.

This posture facilitates sliding. Some players hold the instrument closer to themselves, while certain others keep it farther away, as much as the frets are visible to the audience. The kudukkai is hinged on its rim to allow for the swerving motion during performance. The vertical position of holding the vina which was practiced by eminent artists like Venkataramanadas of Andra Pradesh and the elder
of the Karaikudi brothers, Subbarama Iyer, in Tamil Nadu, is seldom used nowadays. Some players place their right hand on the kudam about an inch away from the wrist into the forearm so that the hand is loose, arching like a crane.

Some others place the wrist, on the butt of the kudam so that the fingers are arched (as part of a circle). Here the wrist rests on the kudam in such a way that the player is able to reach the anumandaram only by a gentle forward movement of the wrist. While most performers most of the time use only index and middle fingers, some use also the ring finger. Some use the index finger
most often during performance.

To play harmonics some use the thumb and the little or ring finger in combination, the former to touch the required node, the latter to pluck the string at the string at the same time. Thus, all the five right fingers are used at some point or other during performance. Some performers use wire plectra, some their fingernails and some others the soft part of the finger for plucking. Accordingly, in the resultant sound one can distinguish three different tonal gradations.

The one with a wire plectrum has a certain sharp-metallic quality; the one with fingernails has certain edgy-soft quality while the one with the tip of the skin part of the fingers has a certain blunted-languorous quality. Some players use plectra for the little finger as well, which when combined with any of the above categories gives each of them an added tonal coloring.

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