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A morsing (also mourching,morching or gogona) is a percussion instrument, mainly used in the Carnatic music
of South India.
It can be categorized under lamellaphones, which is in the category of plucked idiophones. It consists of a metal ring in
the shape of a horseshoe with two parallel forks which form the frame, and a metal tongue in the middle, between the forks,
fixed to the ring at one end and free to vibrate at the other. The metal tongue is bent at the free end in a plane perpendicular
to the circular ring so that it can be struck and is made to vibrate.This bent part is called the trigger.
The morsing is an Indian version of the Jew's harp. Its origin in India
is not very clear though many myths and stories prevail. In India it is
found mainly in South India, Rajasthan and also in some parts of Assam.
In South India, where it is called morsing, mourching or morching, it features in Carnatic
concerts and percussion ensembles. In Rajasthan it is called a morchang and is used as percussion instrument in folk music.
The Morsing is placed between the teeth and held firmly in the hand and is struck using the other hand to produce sound. Movement of the player's
tongue, variations of the throat and blowing and sucking of air through the instrument produces different sounds or overtones.
Morsing is firmly held in the hand, the frame or the ring firmly held between the palm and the fingers usually
in the left hand. Care should be taken to see that the middle part or the metal tongue is not being touched when held idle.
Then the two parallel forks are very gently pressed against the front upper teeth(very gently pressed). Then from the tip
of the little finger the trigger is plucked and made to vibrate. Sound is produced due to vibration of the metal tongue of
Morsing in the mouth and the throat cavity. Tongue (human tongue) movement with constant plucking can produce very fast patterns
of sound. By constricting the space in the mouth and throat many variations of sound can be produced and also metal tongue
is being plucked constantly during these variations.
The basic pitch of the instrument can be varied very little. Significantly, only the pitch of the instrument
can be reduced and not increased. To reduce the pitch a little, bee-wax can be applied on the plucking end of the Morsing.
To increase, it can be filed very precisely but it is not advisable as this may damage the instrument.
Advanced playing and
the art of accompaniment
As the morsing is played most of the time along with mridangam it is very essential to know the syllables or
aural interpretation of what is played on mridangam. It is very important to know the aural representation of the ferns(pattern
of syllables played on percussion instruments) played on mridangam as it is being silently recited while playing morsing.
This vocal art of reciting the syllables played on mridangam is called konnakol.But while playing on morsing you
don't actually make sound of reciting the syllable but just move your tongue that way so that the air passages gets blocked
and cleared in a pattern so as to produce the sound or the ferns. It is very essential to follow Mridangam and play the same
ferns as far as possible as Mridangam plays it, though it is very difficult owing to the limitations of the instrument. But
still morsing has its own advantages and these should be extracted to its maximum.
While accompanying for a song, morsing should still follow Mridangam. Glimpses of uniqueness and versatility
of morsing can be shown when accompanying singly for the song or during neraval or swara prastara (stages of song rendition
in Carnatic music). The morsing is played as a shadow of Mridangam throughout the concert and the instrument's capabilities
should be exhibited when playing or accompanying alone or during Thani(percussion round in a concert) or Talavadyas (percussion