Learn to Play > Lesson 3: The Basic Kirtan Beat

Different Strokes for Different Folks

There are different kinds of mrdanga beats divided according to style and speed.

In terms of speed, there are three general category of mrdanga beats known as slow, medium or fast. Generally, kirtans start slowly, and gradually increase in speed, and as the speed of the kirtan increases, the mrdanga beat changes accordingly. It's not that you just play the same beat faster and faster, but rather you change beats. Some beats are designed to play in the beginning of the kirtan because they are meant to be played slowly. Other beats are more appropriate for playing near the end of the kirtan because we play them hard, fast and loud, and we try to get the devotees jumping in the air.

These three kinds of beats (slow, medium and fast) can further be subdivided into different styles known as standard and off-beats. A standard beat "ends" with the third stroke of the kartalas. An off-beat ends at an unexpected time (an off-time), and further tends to make people dance. (We will discuss off-beats in more detail later on.)

Standard beats are usually easier to learn. Off beats are a little more difficult. We will teach you both kinds of beats in all three categories: slow, medium and fast... and I guess now you know why Bhakta Oswald over there is scratching his head! He's confused!!!.

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