Different Strokes for Different Folks
There are different kinds of mrdanga beats divided
according to style and speed.
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