Learn to Play > Lesson 5: The Basic Off-beat

Two Variations of the Basic Off-beat

There are two main variations of the Basic Off-beat, one of which uses a new mrdanga note called a knock (pronounced NOK).

A knock is produced on the small end of the drum (the dayan) by literally knocking the head with the knuckles of your hand as shown in the photograph to the right. This produces a distinctive sound different from a ti or ta, and is therefore appropriately called a knock. The knock is a non-resonant stroke, which means the knuckles remain on the head after striking it and the head is not allowed to continue to vibrate.

The knock is hard to do on a Balarama Mrdanga because inside the small head there is a hidden rim below the surface. If you hit that rim with your knuckles it hurts. It's easier to play a knock on a drum with a leather head, such as a clay drum pictured on the right.

Here, therefore, is the Basic Off-beat variation #1 using the knock: This is a pretty cool sounding beat. But... and that's a big BUT... sometimes you can hurt your fingers, especially playing this beat on a BALARAM Mrdanga (the fiberglass ones), because hiding under the dayan is a metal rim that you might hit with your finger joints. Ouch. Anyway, listen to it, and see if you can duplicate the sound. Good to have this in your repertoire of mrdanga beats.

ki knock ge Ge ti ta tiriti

There are no pauses.

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The second variation of the Basic Off-beat uses pauses to dramatize the effect of the beat. The dayan is struck only twice during the beat. 

ki ta ge Ge - ta - -

As you can see, there are three pauses.

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