The Melam is a crucial part of the Veena as it is the portion where the frets are fixed and the artists showcase their skills. Knowledge of Shruti Gnana and Swara Gnana is crucial to fix the Melam.
Preparing for the melam
- To set up the Melam on the Veena, certain items are required including honey wax, black color or grinded coal powder, a small amount of Guggul, and brass rods.
- The wax should be melted in a vessel over a stove and mixed with the black color and Guggul to create a soft paste.
- 24 new brass frets of equal length and thickness should be selected to avoid Sruti Bheda.
- The frets should have small legs on both sides to prevent them from moving from their original place, and the rods should not have any cuts on them.
- The top 4 strings should be new ones to avoid sruti difference, as old and used strings can have problems.
Steps to fix the 24 frets on the Veena:
- First, tune the top 4 strings accurately and perfectly.
- While fixing the frets, ensure that the Sruti of the strings is not high, as fixing it low will be perfect.
- Start by fixing the Panchama Sthana fret on the Sarani String, then the tara Shadjam and Ati Tara Shadjam frets.
- Identify the Swara Sthanas with overtone striking.
- Place a lump of wax at the particular place where the fret should be fixed.
- Fix all the frets in their respective positions and fill the gaps between each fret with wax and press them at equal heights.
- Play Andolita Gamakam during this process and ensure that the string is not touching the next fret.
- Move the reed towards the right to increase the sruti and towards the left to decrease it.
- The distance for the 1st fret is more and is narrow at the last fret.
- Finally, cut the wax equally with a penknife.