Essentially a temple instrument from down south of India, tavil is an integral part of Hindu weddings too. It is the main percussion accompaniment for nadaswaram played in temples and at wedding ceremonies.

Tavil is made of a wooden shell almost spherical but open at either end. The ends are tightly covered with skin that are fastened by thick hemp hoops and inter-woven metal (leather in the earlier days) straps.

One side (depending on whether the player is left or right handed) is played with a stick and that forms the base notes of the instruments. The other side is played with the fingers capped of hard caps earlier made with rice paste, but now made with synthetic materials. This produces a distinct sharp and cracking sound.

This unique instrument that requires years of training and hard work, is not tuned to any particular pitch. tavil drummers usually set their own pitch by tightening the straps which in turn tightens the skin just as in any other drum.