CHENNAI, INDIA, January 2, 2019 (The Hindu): Not many know that Narasingampettai, a small town in the Thanjavur district, has an important role to play in the world of Carnatic music, especially in enriching the music of the nagaswaram. It was N.G.N. Ranagantha Asari, an ace carpenter from this village, who completely transformed the instrument, which is now known as pari nagaswaram. December 2018 marks the birth centenary of the Ranganatha Asari, who produced the instrument in collaboration with nagaswaram wizard Thiruvavaduthurai T.N. Rajarathinam Pillai. "Rajarathinam Pillai wanted to replace the old, short timiri nagaswaraam with a new instrument because it could not produce the mathyama sruthi perfectly. He worked together with Ranganatha Asari and produced an instrument. The result is terrific. We have a pleasing sound and the instrument is also easy to handle," said Kalaimamani Kilvelur M.G. Ganesan, a senior nagaswaram player.
Before the arrival of pari nagasaram, the timiri was used by nagaswaram players. The timiri produced a high-pitched sound and demanded enormous physical effort from the musician handling it. The improved pari nagaswaramis 36 inches long. The pipe (ulavu) of the nagaswaram is made of from the wood of the acha maram, which is known for its hardness. The lower section (anusu) is made from the wood of the vagai tree. But nagaswaram makers now are also known to purchase old wooden pillars for creating the instrument. Nagaswaram makers have also modernised their units, with machines replacing hand-drilling tools and chisels. Ranganatha Asari's sons continue to make nagaswarams today.