Ghatams are an earthenware pot played in south Indian classical music, as well as being used by the rural folk in folk music. The mouth of the ghatam is open and is somewhat narrow compared to the mud pots used for domestic purposes. When the mouth is covered with a parchment it becomes the pot-drum. The clay used for making ghatams is mixed with iron-filings and baked.
There are two main types of ghatams – one with very thick walls, and one with light walls. The thick wall ghatam is considered to have a nicer sound than the second type, but is more difficult to play. The pots are tuned to the tonic of the musician, with the pitch being determined at the time it is made, so a ghatam player can have up to 50 different ghatams to perfectly suit the pitch of the vocalist.
Ghatams are played with the flat, the knuckles and the sides of both hands against the sides. Finger strokes are given at the neck, center and bottom of the outer surface. The mouth of the pot is sometimes pressed against the stomach of the performer generating controlled tuning and even notes in the lower octave. The ghatam can also be held vertically (the mouth facing upwards), or horizontally with the mouth facing the audience. Towards the close of a rhythmic solo, the ghatam is thrown up in the air and caught successively in consonance with rhythm. Ghatams are the only concert instrument where the holding posture is changed in the course of play.
Matkas are clay pots used for transporting, storing and filtering water in India and Pakistan. They make a distinct sound when water is poured into them or their surface is tapped, so they also serve as impromptu musical instruments at joyous occasions, especially weddings.