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Basic Concepts of Indian Classical Music

 

Patti is the scale in which a performer sings his songs/ragas. The table below, shows the different scales that can be used. The marathi notation is in the form of Pandhri (means White) or Kali (means Black) . The next part is equivalent number in Marathi/Hindi. The following table shows the pattis with equivalent western notations.

 

Indian Scale

Western Equivalent

Safed 1 (White 1)

C

Kali 1 (Black 1)

C#

Safed 2 (White 2)

D

Kali 2 (Black 2)

D#

Safed 3 (White 3)

E

Safed 4 (White 4)

F

Kali 3 (Black 3)

F#

Safed 5 (White 5)

G

Kali 4 (Black 4)

Ab

Safed 6 (White 6)

A

Kali 5 (Black 5)

Bb

Safed 7 (White 7)

B

# - Read as Sharp
b - Read as Flat

 

Shudhha, Achal, Komal, and Teevra Swar

Achala Swar : The notes Shadja and Pancham are fixed on the scale. They are referred to as Achal swara (immovable).

Vikrut Swar : The other notes viz. Rishabh, Gandhar, Madhyam, Dhaivat and Nishad are Vikrut (Movable).

Komal Swar : In Vikrut swaras Rishabh, Gandhar, Dhaivat, Nishad can be moved below there shuddha place on the scale. They are called komal (Soft or Flat). These are shown by a small horizontal line below the note.

Teevra Swar : Only Madhyam, can become vikrut by going one note above the shuddha Madhyam. It is called teevra (Sharp). It is shown by a small vertical line above the note.

Shadja - Sa
Rishabh - Re
Gandhar - Ga
Madhyam - Ma
Pancham - Pa
Dhaivat - Dha
Nishad - Ni
 

In Indian Classical music 3 saptaks (Octaves) are usually utilized.

Saptak : When the set of seven notes is played in the order it is called a Saptak (i.e. Sa , Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni)

Maddhya Saptak : The normal tone of human voice, which is neither high nor low. It is called Maddhya Saptak (Middle Octave). This has got no symbol in the notation system.

Taar Saptak : The one higher than Maddhya Saptak is Taar saptak (High). The notes are high and sharp. This shown by a dot above the note. Two dots above the note imply a note of an octave higher than the Taar Saptak i.e. Ati Taar Saptak.

Mandra Saptak : The one below the Maddhya Saptak is called Mandra saptak(Low). Notes of this octave are sung or played in a low deep tone. This comprises of the saptak which is below the lower Sa of the Maddhya Saptak. Notes of this saptak are indicated by a dot below the note.

It's possible in case of stringed instruments such as Sitar to go to the octave lower than the Mandra saptak. It's known as the Ati Mandra Saptak. The notes of this saptak are indicated by two dots below. In the saptak (scale) the Sa gets repeated after the Ni. The Frequency of the second Sa is twice the frequency of the first Sa. The second Sa is termed as Taar Shadja. From this Taar Shadja the same saptak gets repeated (But this time at twice the frequency of the respective swar. It's then called taar Saptak.)
 

Since the Indian Classical music is modal music based on relations between a fixed sound, the tonic and the successive notes. The tonic needs to be heard continuously.The sustained accompaniment of the tonic allows the performer to check his/ her voice to avoid dissonance. This constant tonic is provided by the instrument Taanpura. It has four or sometimes 5/6 strings . The drone is accomplished (explained for a four string taanpura) by playing

   and    (If a particular raag does not include Pancham but has Madhyam eg. Raag Marwa or Malkauns)

Some times it is set to

   or    if the raag has prominence of Dhaivat or Nishad.

According to Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande (1860-1936), one of the most influential musicologists in the field of North Indian classical music in the twentieth century, each one of the several traditional ragas is based on, or is a variation of, ten basic thaats, or musical scales or frameworks. The ten thaats are Bilawal, Kalyan, Khamaj, Bhairav, Poorvi, Marwa, Kafi, Asavari, Bhairavi and Todi; if one were to pick a raga at random, it should be possible to find that it is based on one or the other of these thaats. For instance, the ragas Shri and Puriya Dhanashri are based on the Poorvi thaat, Malkauns on the Bhairavi, and Darbari Kanada on the Asvari thaat. It is important to point out that Bhatkande's thaat-raga theory is not very accurate, but it is nevertheless an important classificatory device with which to order, and make sense of, a bewildering array of ragas; and it is also a useful tool in the dissemination of the music to students.

There are certain rules for these Thaats.

  1. A Thaat must have seven notes out of the twelve notes [Seven Shuddha, Four komal (Re, Ga, Dha , Ni), one teevra (Ma) ], placed in an ascending order. Both the forms of the notes can be used.

  2. Thaat has only an Aaroha.

  3. Thaats are not sung but the raags produced from the Thaats are sung.

  4. Thaats are named after the popular raag of that Thaat. For example Bhairavi is a popular raag and the thaat of the raag Bhairavi is named after the raag.

The 10 basic thaats acording to the Bhatkhande System are as follows

  1. Bilawal :

     

    bilawal
     

    Bilawal is the most basic of all the ten thaats. All the swars in the thaat are shuddha or all swars in the natural scale. Bilawal as a raag is not rendered these days however a small variation of the raag called Alahaiya Bilawal is very common. This is a mornig raag and its pictorial descriptions create a rich, sensuous ambience in consonance with its performance.

    Raags in Bilawal Thaat : Deskar, Haunsdhwani, Variations of Bilawal.


     
  2. Khamaj :

     

    khamaj
     

    The next thaat is Khamaj which can be obtained by replacing the Shuddha Nishad of Bilawal by Komal Nishad. The raags of this thaat are full of Shringar Ras (romantic) hence this raag is mostly rendered in the form of light classical thumris, tappas, horis, kajris etc. Its pictorial descriptions in the existing texts are sensuous and even today, the raag Khamaj is considered to be a 'flirtatious' raag. There is another theory which assumes that in the past, Khamaj scale found its way in Ch'in music of the late medieval China.

    Raags in Khamaj Thaat : Rageshree, Jhinjhoti, Des, Tilak Kamod, Jaijaiwanti, Khambavati etc.


     

     

  3. Kafi :

     

    kafi
     

    Kafi thaat makes use of the Komal Gandhar and Komal Nishad. So basically it adds Komal Gandhar to the Khamaj Thaat. raag Kafi is one of the oldest raags and its intervals are described as basic scale of the Natyashastra. Thus in ancient and medieval times, Kafi was considered as natural scale. Kafi is a late evening raag and said to convey the mood of spring time.

    Raags in Kafi Thaat : Dhanashree, Dhani, Bhimpalasi, Pilu, Megh Malhar, Bageshree etc.


     

     

  4. Asavari :

     

    asavari
     

    Add Komal Dhaivat to Kafi thaat and you get Asavari Thaat. raag Asavari is full of tyag, the mood of renunciation and sacrifice as well as pathos. It is best suited for late morning. However important evening/night raags like Darbari and Adana also use notes of asavari thaat with different styles, stress points and ornamentations.

    Raags in Asavari Thaat : Asavari, Desi, Darbari, Adana, Jaunpuri etc.


     

     

  5. Bhairavi :

     

    bhairavi
     

    Bhairavi makes use of all the komal swars, Rishabh, Gandhar, Dhaivat, Nishad. When singing compositions in Bhairavi raag, the singers however take liberty to use all the 12 swars. Bhairavi raag is names after the shakti or feminine aspect of the cosmic life force, which is personified as a consort to Lord Shiva. Bhairavi is a powerful raag filled with devotion and compassion. Bhairavi is actually performed early in the morning in a peaceful, serious and ocassionally sad mood. Traditionally it is rendered as the last item of a program, for its unique fullness of sentiments as well as its wide scope of the tonal combinations. Pictorially, Bhairavi is represented in female form, as the wife of Bhairav.

    Raags in Bhairavi Thaat : Malkauns, Bilaskhani Todi, Bhupali Todi, Kaunsi Kanada etc.


     

     

  6. Bhairav :

     

    bhairav
     

    Bhairav thaat raags make use of Komal Rishabh and Komal Dhaivat. Bhairav is one of the names of Lord Shiva especially in his powerful form as a naked ascetic with matted locks and body smeared with ashes. The raag too has some of these masculine and scetic attributes in its form and compositions. The raag itself is extremely vast and allows a huge number of note combinations and a great range of emotional qualities from valor to peace. You can see a lot of variations on raag Bhairav including (but not restricted to) Ahir Bhairav, Alam Bhairav, Anand Bhairav, Bairagi Bhairav, Beehad Bhairav, Bhavmat Bhairav, Devata Bhairav, Gauri Bhairav, Nat Bhairav, Shivmat Bhairav. This raag is usually performed in a devotional mood in the early morning hours. The vibrations of the notes in Bhairav is said to clear one's whole mind. The pictorial depictions of raag Bhairav in the ancient texts are austere as well as awe-inspiring.

    Raags in Bhairav Thaat : Ramkali, Gunkari, Meghranjani, Jogiya, Bhairav and its variations etc.


     

     

  7. Kalyan :

     

    kalyan
     

    Kalyan thaat consists of a important group of evening raags. Characterized by the teevra Madhyam, this thaat literally means good luck. It is considered to be a blessing-seeking and soothing raag. As a result, it is performed in the evening at the beginning of a concert. This raag creates a feeling of the unfolding of an evening. This thaat is huge and consists of many variations on the basic kalyan thaat including raags (but not restricted to) like Shuddha Kalyan, Shyam Kalyan, Yaman Kalyan, Anandi Kalyan, Khem Kalyan (Haunsdhwani + Yaman), Savani Kalyan etc.

    Raags in Kalyan Thaat : Yaman, Bhupali, Hindol, Kedar, Kamod, etc.


     

     

  8. Marwa :

     

    marwa
     

    Marwa thaat is obtained by adding a komal Rishabh to Kalyan thaat. The mood of the Marwa family raags is strongly and easily recognizable. The Shadja remains in the form of a shadow till the very end, where it almost comes as a surprise. komal Rishabh and shuddha Dhaivat are ver important. The overall mood of this raag is of sunset where the night approaches much faster than in northern latitudes. The onrushing darkness awakens in many observers, a feeling of anxiety and solemn expectation.

    Raags in Marwa Thaat : Marwa, Puriya, Bhatiyaar, Bibhas, Sohoni etc.


     

     

  9. Poorvi :

     

    poorvi
     

    Poorvi thaat adds a komal Dhaivat to Marwa thaat. These thaat raags usually feature komal Rishabh, shuddha Gandhar and Shuddha Nishad along with teevra Madhyam, the note which distinguishes evening from the morning raags (dawn and sunset). The thaat raag Poorvi is deeply serious quite and mysterious in character and is performed at the time of sunset. Pictorial depictions in early texts, often mention the poise, grace and charm of Poorvi.

    Raags in Poorvi Thaat : Puriya Dhanashree, Gauri, Shree, Paraj, Basant etc.


     

     

  10. Todi :

     

    todi
     

    Todi is the king of all thaats. Todi pictures nearly always show a petite, beautiful woman, holding veena, with a deer around her, standing in a lovely, lush green forest. Todi represents the mood of delighted adoration with a gentle, loving sentiment and its traditionally performed in the late morning.

    Raags in Todi Thaat : Miyan Ki Todi, Gujari Todi, Madhuvanti, Multani etc.

 

Raag is the backbone of Indian Classical Music. The word raag comes from Sanskrit word "Ranj" which means to delight, to make happy and to satisfy. Here it's necessary to clarify that not all raags project a happy mood. The raag can produce various moods such as Shant (serenity), Shrungaar (erotic), Bhakti (devotion to God), Veer (gallantry, bravery, aggressive).

Raag is neither a scale, nor a mode. It is, however, a scientific, precise, subtle, and aesthetic melodic form with its own peculiar ascending and descending movement which consists of either a full octave, or a series of five or six notes. An omission of a jarring or dissonant note, or an emphasis on a particular note, or the transition from one note to another, and the use of microtones along with other subtleties, distinguish one raag from the other.

Raag has its own principal mood such as tranquillity, devotion, eroticism, loneliness, pathos, heroism, etc. Each raag is associated, according to its mood, with a particular time of the day, night or a season. Improvization is an essential feature of Indian music, depending upon the imagination and the creativity of an artist; a great artist can communicate and instill in his listener the mood of the raag.

Each melodic structure of raag has something akin to a distinct personality subject to a prevailing mood. Early Indian writers on music, carried this idea further and endowed the raags with the status of minor divinities, with names derived from various sources, often indicating the origin or associations of the individual raags. In theoretical works on music each raag was described in a short verse formula, which enabled the artist to visualize its essential personality during meditation prior to the performance.

There are 3 Raag bhed (Types of Raag)

  1. Shuddha Raag : The raag in which even if any notes that are not present in it are used, it's nature and form does not change.

     

  2. Chhayalag Raag : The raag in which if any notes that are not present in it are used, it's nature and form changes.

     

  3. Sankeerna Raag : The raag in which there is a combination of two or more raags.

Terms describing the properties of a Raag

Vaadi : The most prominent note of the raag which gets emphasized in the raag and used very often.

Samvaadi : The second most important note of the raag. It used lesser than the vaadi but more than the other notes of the raag. This is the fourth or fifth note from the Vaadi.

Anuvaadi : The other notes of the raag (other than Vaadi and Samvaadi).

Vivadi : The meaning of vivadi is "one which produces dissonance", the note which is not present in the raag. But still a vivadi swar is used in a raag by able singers in such a way that it enhances the beauty of the raag. This is done very rarely.
For example Teevra Madhyam in raag Bihag was considered a Vivadi but recently it has almost become a important aspect of Raag Bihag.

Aaroha : Ascend of the notes. Here each note is higher than the preceding note.
Example : Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni

Avaroha : Descend of the notes. Here each note is lower than the preceding note.
Example : Ni, Dha, Pa, Ma, Ga, Re, Sa

Pakad : A small group of notes which describe the unique features of the raag.

Jaati : Gives the number of notes in Aaroha as well as the Avaroha of the raag. Audav has 5 notes. Shadav has 6 notes and Sampoorna has 7 notes. Thus there are 9 jaati based on Audav, Shadav, Sampoorna in Aaroha and Avaroha.(i.e. making combinations of either Audav or Shadav or Sampoorna in Aaroha and Audav or Shadav or Sampoorna in Avaroha.)

Thaat : The system of classification for the raags in different groups. The set of seven notes or scale which can produce a raag. Presently in Hindustani Classical Music 10 thaat classification of raags have been adopted (as described in the previous article.

Samay : Each Raag has a specific time at which it an be performed. This is because specific those notes are supposed to be more effective at that particular time.

Ras : The emotion each raag invokes. Depending upon the notes used in the raag, it will invoke a ras.

Musical terms regarding a presentation of a raag in vocal style

Sthayee : The first part of the composition. Mainly develops in the the lower and the middle octave.

Antaraa : Second part of the composition. Develops in the middle or higher note.

Mukhadaa : The first line of the composition.

The gradual exposition of Raag emphasizing Vaadi, Samvaadi and other salient features of the raag in a slow tempo is known as Alaap.

The word alaap means a dialog or conversation. Alaap is a dialog between the musician and the raag. Alaap reflects the depth, the temperament, creativity and training of the musician.

In alaap, the musician improvises each note gradually. Beginning with the lower octave and in a slow tempo and techniques like kana swar and meend etc. The alaap is sung in the beginning of the raag at the time of a performance. This is also known as the Vistaar. When the musician starts rendering a Bada Khayal / Chotaa Khayaal (bandish) the tabla or any other percussion instrument joins. Alaap is used again with the composition, this time with the rhythm as well. This alaap is slightly faster and and rhythmic.

Some times the words of the song are also improvised with notes. This is known as Bol Alaap.

Alaap is usually sung in Aakaar i.e. without pronouncing any syllables only using the sound "aa" of the vowel. Sometimes syllables like teri, Nom, Tom are also used for singing the alaap this type of singing is called Dhrupad and Dhamaar. It is said that Tansen used to sing in nom, tom and Amir Khusro for the first time introduced khayal gayaki in Indian Classical Music.

To improvise and to expand weaving together the notes in a fast tempo is a taan. Taans are very technical and shows the training, practice and dexterity in weaving complicated patterns of the notes with variations in the rhythm. Taans also are sung in Akaar. Speed is an important factor of the taan.

Some important types of the taan

Bol Taan : Taan can also be sung by utilizing the words of the Cheez (Composition). This is a difficult type of a taan as in this correct pronunciation, the beauty of the words, meaning of the composition, every thing has to be taken in to consideration.

Shuddha/Sapat (Straight)Taan : The notes are placed in an order in one or more octaves.

Koot Taan : The notes do not remain in order. It's complicated in nature.

Mishra Taan : Combination of the above two taans.

Gamak Taan : Gamak is a technique by which a force is added to notes and each note is repeated atleast twice.

Also there are many other types of taan called Ladant taan, Zatkaa taan, Gitkari taan, Jabde ki taan, Sarok Taan, Halak Taan, Palat taan.

Although the terms can be explained the raag is a tonal complex. The listener has to listen to several pieces of the raag in order to recognize the raag. Each raag is presented differently depending upon the Gharana of the artist, the artist's own nature, and his/her mood at that time, also on the form he/she chooses to perform the raag in i.e. whether it's a khayal, a Dhrupad, Thummri, Bhajan etc. The presentation is also different in case of vocal and instrumental music. This is why a Indian Classical Music can only be learnt properly by listening and repetition.

In Hindustani classical music, each raag is rendered only at a specific time. The time of the raag depends on the vaadi swar and the anuvadi swars . This is so as each raag with it's particular swar is more effective if performed at a particular time. It is supposed to enhance the ras (mood) of the raag that the artist is responsible for evoking.

But, some raags are seasonal in nature. For example raags that belong to the Malhar category can be sung at any time during the monsoon season. The traditional associations with respect to the season are - Monsoon - Raag Megh, Autumn - Raag Bhairav, Winter - Raag Malkauns, Spring - Raag Hindol.

The 24 hours of a day are divided into 2 parts
 

  1. From 12 AM to 12 PM - This is called Poorva Bhaag and raags sung in this period are called poorva raags.

  2. From 12 PM to 12 AM - This is called Uttar Bhaag and the raags in this period are called uttar raags.

The part of the saptak (octave) from Sa to Ma (Sa Re Ga Ma) is called poorvang (earlier part) of a raag and from Ma to taar saptak Sa (Pa Dha Ni Sa) is called uttarang (later part) of the raag.

Poorvang Vaadi raag : The raags in which the vaadi swar lies in the poorvang are called poorvang vaadi raag. These raags are rendered in the poorva bhag of the day i.e. 12 AM to 12 PM

Uttarang Vaadi raag : The raags in which the vaadi swar lies in the uttarand are called uttarangi vaadi raag. These raags are sung in the uttar bhaag of the day i.e. 12 PM to 12 AM

So if we know a vaadi swar of the raag we can estimate the time the raag will be rendered. The raags in Hindustani classical music are divided in to 3 categories taking into account their swar (notes) and samay(time)

1. Raags with Komal Rishabh and Komal Dhaivat

These raags are called sandhi prakash (dawn and dusk time) raags and fall into two categories
a : pratah kaalin sandhi prakash raag : raags sung at dawn
b : saayam kaalin sandhi prakash raag : raags sung at dusk
In sandhi prakash raags Madhyam plays very important role. Most of pratah kaalin sandhi prakash raags (dawn time) contain the shuddha Madhyam. Eg. Raag Bhairav. Most of the sayam kaalin sanhdi prakash raags (dusk time) contain teevra ma. Eg. Raag Marwa.

Also, in most of the sandhi prakash raags, Rishabh is komal and Gandhar, Nishad are shuddha. Dhaivat can be komal or shuddha.

2. Raags with Shuddha Rishabh and Shuddha Dhaivat

The time at which these raags are rendered is after the sandhi prakash raags. They belong mainly to Kalyan, Bilawal, Khamaj thaat.

After the pratah kaalin sandhi prakash raags the influence of shuddha Rishabh and shuddha Dhaivat starts rising. Hence the raags of this category are rendered from morning 7.00 to morning 10.00 and from evening 7.00 to evening 10.00. In this category Gandhar is essentially shuddha.

In the morning 7.00 to 10.00 category Shuddha Madhyam is prominent Eg. Bilawal, Deskar
In evening 7.00 to 10.00 category Teevra Madhyam is prominent Eg. Yaman, Bhoopali
3. Raags with Komal Gandhar and Komal Nishad

These raags are sung after the Shuddha Rishabh and Shuddha Dhaivat raags. They are sung from morning 10.00 to afternoon 4.00 Eg. Asavari, Jaunpuri and night 10.00 to dawn 4.00 Eg. Bageshree, Jaijaivanti, Malkauns. In these raags Gandhar will surely be komal. The Rishabh and Dhaivat can be Shuddha or Komal.

Importance of Madhyam with regards to the time of the raag.

Normally , in the morning time raags shuddha Madhyam is prominent. In the raags with Komal Rishabh and Komal Dhaivat if shuddha Madhyam is prominent then they are called Pratah Kaalin Sandhi Prakash raag.

In the evening raags teevra Madhyam is prominent. Thus in the evening with the raags such as Poorvi, Shree, Multaani, teevra Madhyam comes into use which goes on till the 2nd prahar of the night. At that time with raags such as Bihaag, shuddha Madhyam starts getting prominent.

In the pratah kaalin sandhi prakash raag, the raags with the Shuddha Madhyam (Raag Bhairav, Kalingada) come first followed by raags with both the Madhyams (Raag Ramkali, Lalit).

After this is the time to sing raags with Shuddha Rishaabh and Shuddha Dhaivat. Shuddha Madhyam is prominent in these raags (Raag Bilawal) Then comes the time for Komal Gandhar raags. In this both the Madhyams are used. In some of them Shuddha Madhyam assumes prominence whereas in others Teevra Madhyam assumes prominence.

 

  1. Thaats or scales are produced from 12 swar - Shuddha, Komal, Teevra. Raags belong to the thaats.

  2. There must be seven notes in a thaat The raag must have minimum five notes.

  3. In the thaat the seven notes have to be in order but in the raag the notes can be in any order.

  4. Thaat has only Aaroha (Ascending notes). The raag must have Aaroha (ascending notes) as well as the Avaroha (descending notes).

  5. It is not necessary for a thaat to be melodious as the thaats are not sung but the raag has to be melodious.

  6. Thaats do not express a sentiment. A raag must express a mood.

  7. Thaats do not have a Vaadi or Samvaadi. A raag has to have a Vaadi and a Samvaadi.

  8. Thaats are named after a popular raag belonging to that Thaat

To make the raag rendering more beautiful and varied, different ornamental patterns are used. Along with the theory each pattern contains an audio. Please click the audio symbol to download the audio file. I thank Smt. Veena Sahasrabuddhe for letting me use her audio files which very nicely outline each alankar. Veeenatai's website is located at http://www.it.iitb.ac.in/~hvs/Veena/ where you can find a series of her lecture demonstrations.

Alankar : Alankar literally means ornaments or adorations. Specific melodic presentation in succession in which a pattern is followed is called Alankar. For example : "SaReGa, ReGaMa, GaMaPa, MaPaDha, PaDhaNi DaNiSa". This phrase is a part of an alankar in which three notes in succession are used at each time.

Gamak : These are many ways of ornamenting the notes. In the ancient books fifteen types of gamaks are found.

  • Kampita - Shake

  • Andolita - Swing

  • Aaghaat - Strike

  • Valit - Vipple

  • Tribhinna - Threefold

  • Gumphita - Threaded

  • Plavita - Flowing

  • Mishrit - Mixed

  • Kurula - Spiral

  • Sphurita - Pulsating

  • Tirip - Flurry

  • Leen - Absorbing

  • Mudrita - Imprint

  • Ullhasit - Happy

  • Naamita - Obeisance

Many of these gamaks are still in use in Karnatak music under different names. However, today in the North Indian music, vibrating the notes with force is now called Gamak. This is an important technique in Dhrupad and often in Bada Khayal singing.

Kan or Sparsh Swar : Kan means a small particle of a neighboring note used with the main note. It can be higher or lower than the main note.

Murki : It's a short taan of three or four notes. It's sung very fast.

Khatkaa : Two or more notes sung with a jerk. Its a combination of Kan and Murki.

Meend : Stretching or lengthening the sound from one note to another. This technique maintains the continuity of the sound. Meend brings a continuos flow, softness and continuity.

 

Each raag invokes a certain mood. For instance the raag Darbaari Kanada is regal and dignified and majestic in it's appearance. The melodies of this raag tend to be sung in the lower register, tempo is slow and the melodic phrases are complex.

All these effects can be explained by the ancient theory of Ras and Bhav.The Ras can be said as the experience and the Bhav the expression.

In the Bharat Natya Shastra eight sentiments are mentioned.
 

  • Shringaar (romantic/erotic)

  • Veer (heroic)

  • Hassya (comic)

  • Karuna (pathos)

  • Roudra (wrathful)

  • Bhayanak (terrifying)

  • Bibhatsa (odious)

  • Adbhut (wondrous)

Later on, another ras Shant (peaceful, calm) was added as the 9th Ras together called "Navras". However after the 15th century Bhakti (Devotion) Ras became widely accepted and popular into the original ras. There is a conception that Bhakti and Shanta ras are one and the same.

It also mentions the different notes to produce different moods such as Madhyam - Humorous, Pancham - Erotic, Shadja - Heroic, Rishabh - Wrathful and so on.

 

  1. The raag must belong to a thaat

  2. It must be melodic in nature.

  3. It comprises of a minimum five notes.

  4. A raag must have Aaroha as well as Avaroha

  5. Each raag has the note Sa present in it.

  6. Each raag has either Madhyam and/or Pancham. Both these notes together can not be absent from a raag.

  7. Two forms of the same note such as Shuddha Gandhar and Komal Gandhar cannot follow each other in succession (But there are exceptions to this rule). For example Raag Lalit takes Shuddha Madhyam and Teevra Madhyam one after the other, Raag Jog takes Shuddha Gandhar and Komal Gandhar one after the other.

 

Some times some raags sound almost similar but still there exists a little difference in them. These differences can be seen to be as follows :

 

  1. Similar Thaat (scale) and melodic configuration :

    Some times a raag is only separated from the other by means of stressing a particular note in one of them. For example the only difference between raag Hameer and raag Hameer Kalyaan is there is emphasis on Shuddha Nishad in Hamir Kalyan.

     

  2. Different Thaat (scale) but similar melodic configuration

    In some raags the melodic structure the mood they present is almost the same but one or two notes vary in their format i.e. are Komal or Shuddha or Teevra. For example in Asavari and Komal Rishabh Asavari only difference is the later uses Komal Rishabh instead of Shuddha Rishabh. Hence the raags are considered totally different.

     

  3. Identical Thaat (scale) but different melodic configuration

    These raags are a challenge to the performer. As the scale remains the same and they are separated on the basis of the melodic configuration only. There are subtle differences made in the form of a meend, use of a certain musical phrase, emphasis on certain notes, etc. For example Raag Goud Saarang and Raag Chhayanat.

     

  4. Partial similarity

    Here the chances of confusion are almost nill. This is the case of those raags that are derived from two different raags where one tetra chord is derived from one raag and the next from some other major raag. For example Raag Ahir Bhairav is derived from Bhairav a major raag and Kafi. The resemblance to Kafi is limited to the lower tetrachord (poorvanga) only.

     

Alpatva (Insignificance) and Bahutva (Predominance)

Bahutva : This is shown in two ways

 

  • By singing the note repeatedly which is termed as abhyaas, and

  • By singing the note for a longer time. This is called Aalanghan (grasping)

     

Bahutva is related to Vaadi and Samvaadi of a raag as well as other notes of the raag which are prominent in the presentation of that raag.

Alpatva : This is again done in two ways.

 

  • By lack of repetition or Anabhyas

  • By only briefly touching the note or langhan. The swar that is completely omitted in aroha or avroha, gets an Alpatva by Langhan.

     


 

For example : In Raag Bihag the notes Rishabh and Dhaivat are getting alpatva by langhan as they are completely omitted in the Aaroha. However these swars are present in the avroha but the importance to these swars is again less, i.e. in this raag there is no "nyas" on these swars, that is why these swars get alpatva by anabhyas.

Avirbhaav and Tirobhaav

As the musician employs different note combinations in the development of a raag, there is always a danger that the audience may feel he is snatching notes of another raag which uses similar combinations.

When the raag being presented is clearly defined it's called as Aavirbhaav.

On the other hand when the raag is deliberately and cleverly concealed it's called as Tirobhav. This prevarication is used as an artistic device.

This process of Avirbhaav and Tirobhaav, an almost sensual game of creating confusion and resolving it by clear statement of the raag, makes the raag stand out more luminously.

The Jod Raag (Compound raag)

The basic principles in combining two raag is the constituent raags should complement each other. The emotional effect of combining them should be pleasing and not disturbing, and not only for intellectual curiosity. There are at least two forms of Jod raag .

 

  1. One raag is given predominance than the other. For example in Raag Basant Bahaar, Basant is considered the main raag to which Raag Bahaar is combined.

  2. Another way of combining is to use the notes of one raag and Chalan (melodic movement) of the other. For instance in Raag Megh Malhar, the notes belonging to Raag Saarang are used and the raag is sung in the manner employed by the Malhaar group.

There are three ways these raags are created

  1. Combining the Aaroha of one raag and the Avaroha of another.

  2. To have each tetrachord composed of notes of different raag (either shuddha or vikrit).

  3. Use phrases from two or more raags and alternate between them.

 

In respect of certain raags we see the names of Hindu deities such as Kedaar, Bhairav, Gouri, Durga.

Some raags such as Ahiri, Asavari, Gujari indicate the link to certain tribes having similar names and might have risen out of tribal melodies.

Some names refer to certain places. For example Marwa, Jaunpuri, Pahadi. These raags may have had their origins in the folk tunes of those regions.

The fourth group bear the names of their creators. Raags such as Miya ki Malhar , Miya ki Todi are attributed to Miya Taansen. Whereas the Raag Bilaskhani Todi is said to have been created by his son Bilaskhan. The raag Darbaari Kanada is supposed to been derived from the Karnatic version of Kanada but sung in darbars in front of the kings for evening concerts. Raag Gorakh Kalyan is supposed to be made by Gorakh Naath to bring his guru back. Many artists have created their own raags. For Eg. Pt Bhimsen Joshi made the Raag Kalashree which is a combination of Kalawati and Bageshree.
 

The following is the sequence in which various components of a raag are presented in a mehefil (concert)

 

Alternative 1

Alternative 2

Alaap

 

  1. Vilambit alaap presented in sections from low notes to high
     

  2. Maddhya alaap divided in to similar sections
     

  3. Drut alaap divided in to similar sections
     

Avachar

A brief outline of the raag usually in aakaar.

Composition set to taal

 

  1. Sthaayi
     

  2. Antaraa
     

Bandish

 

  1. Sthaayi

     

  2. Antaraa

Bol Baant

Alaap in the form of badhat using the words of the bandish and broken in to sections

 

  1. Using the bols of the sthaayi
     

  2. Using the bols of the antaraa
    (After each section the mukhada is repeated)
     

Repetition of the full composition once

Bol Baant and Layakaari

 

Taans

 

End with tihai(repeating part of the cheez thrice and coming to the sum)


 

 

There exist two notation systems. One developed by Pt. Paluskar which is a little more elaborate and for the same reason intricate and difficult to use. And the other developed by Pt. Bhatkhande which is a little easy to use. Throughout the site, we will be following this system of notation.

Shuddha Swar(Normal Notes) : No symbol for shuddha swar.
Example : Sa, Re, Ga, Ma


Komal Swar (Flat Notes) : Shown by a small horizontal line underneath.
Example : Re, Ga, Dha, Ni


Teevra Swar (Sharp Notes) : That is, Ma shown by a small vertical line on the top.


Mandra Saptak Swar (Lower Octave Note) : Shown by a dot below.
Example : Mandra Saptak


Maddhya Saptak : Has no sign.
Example : Pa, Ma


Taar Saptak Swar (Higher Octave Note) : Shown by a dot above.
Example : Taar Saptak


A dash (hiphen "-") : Used for lengthening the note. One dash corresponds to one beat when the playing or singing with the taal.
Example : Sa - Ni - consists of four beats in all.


Avagraha : Shown by "S". It's used for having pauses in the words.
Example : GoSSSvindaSSS


Chandra : Shown by half moon. Any number of notes can be inside the half moon to indicate that they are to be rendered in 1 beat.
Example : Mandra Saptak

Kan Swar (Grace Note) : Writen above the note to the left top in small letter size.
Example : Sa ReGa


Meend : Continuing sound from one note to the other.
Example : Mandra Saptak

Notes in bracket : Equal to a short phrase of three or four. It's sung very fast so that the notes blend and sound as one note. The order for these notes is, one note after the note in bracket, the note after, the note in bracket so on.
Example : (Sa)- ReSaNiSa

The principles of Indian classical music are well explained by these 40 principles put together by Pt Bhatkhande.

 

  1. The Shuddha Saptak (The basic scale) is taken as Bilawal Thaat.

  2. All the raags are divided based on the number of notes in the Aaroha and Avaroha as Audav (Raag of 5 Notes), Shadav (Raag of 6 notes), Sampoorna (Raag of 7 notes)

  3. A raag cannot have less than 5 notes (out of 12 notes including komal and teevra)

  4. The combination of Audav, Shadav, Sampoorna in the aaroha or avaroha make 9 types of raag based on the number of notes in it.

  5. Each raag is based on a thaat, and has Aaroha, Avaroha, Vaadi, Samvaadi, Samay, Ras, Thaat.

  6. A samvaadi is always fourth or fifth from the vaadi. If vaadi is in the poorvanga samvaadi will be in the uttarang and vice versa.

  7. By changing the vaadi swar a morning raag can be changed into an evening raag.

  8. To enhance the beauty of the raag a vivaadi note can be used very rarely.

  9. Each raag has a vaadi. The raag is identified as a poorva raag or uttar raag based on the vaadi note.

  10. Raags can be classified into 3 categories :

    • Raag with Komal Re, Komal Dha

    • Raags with Shuddha Re, Shuddha Dha

    • Raags with Komal Ga, Komal Ni

    Normally in the Pratah kaalin sandhi prakash raag, Re and Dha are never absent. And in Sayam kaalin sandhi prakash raag Ga and Ni are normally not absent.

  11. Ma indicates whether the Raag will be sung at day time or at night.

  12. The raags with Komal Ga, Ni are performed at afternoon or at mid night.

  13. After the Sandhiprakaash raag mainly raags with Re, Ma, Dha, Ni shuddha are performed.

  14. Sa, Ma, Pa are the important notes in raags of 3rd prahar of day and the night.

  15. Teevra Ma is found mainly in Raags of the night. It's found rarely in the day time raags.

  16. If the vaadi is one of Sa, Ma, Pa, that raag can be sung at all the times.

  17. Ma and Pa can not be simultaneously absent from a raag.

  18. Each raag must consist of the note Sa.

  19. No two forms of the same note are taken one after the other in a raag. There are exceptions such as Raag Lalit though, to this rule.

  20. The raag's beauty is enhanced more if sung at the designated time.

  21. Teevra Ma and Komal Ni come together very few times.

  22. The raags in which both the Ma appear are similar in nature. The aaroha is different but the avaroha is quite similar.

  23. In the raags sung at 1st prahar of the night, and which have both the Ma, Shuddha Ma is taken in both aaroha as well as the avaroha but Teevra Ma is taken mainly in aaroha.

  24. In raags of 1st prahar of the night aarohi Ni and avarohi Ga are Vakra. Ni in the avaroha is not emphasized.

  25. In Indian classical music as opposed to the Karnatak classical music, the swar is more important than the Taal.

  26. The poorva raag show their special characteristics in the aaroha, where as the uttar raag show their special characteristics in the avaroha.

  27. Each thaat can produce poorva and uttar raags.

  28. In the raags of the serious, calm nature Sa, Ma, Pa seem to have a prominent place. They are more effective in the Mandra Saptak. Whereas in the raags of light mood, this is not found to be so.

  29. While entering from one thaat into another thaat, Para Mel Praveshak raags (raags on the border of the two thaats) are rendered.

  30. The sequence normally followed is sandhi Prakash Raag then raags with Re Dha shuddha then the raags with Ga, Ni komal.

  31. Sandhi Prakash Raag invoke Karun , Shant ras. The raags with Re, Ga , Dha shuddha invoke Shrungaar and Hassya ras. The raags with Komal Ga, Ni invoke Veer, Roudra Ras.

  32. The raags which have Komal Ni normally have Shuddha Ni in the aaroha. For example Kaphi and Khamaj.

  33. When two to four notes are together they cannot be called a raag . They can at best be called a taan.

  34. In raag notes can be prominent, or insignificant (insignificant does not mean absent though).

  35. After twelve at night and twelve in the morning Sa, Ma, Pa start assuming importance gradually.

  36. In the raags sung in the afternoon, Aaroha either does not consist of Re and Dha or they are insignificant. In these Raags Ga and Ni really shine with full glory.

  37. The raags with Sa, Ma, Pa as Vaadi are of serious nature.

  38. In the dawn time raags Komal Re and Komal Dha are predominant and dusk time raags have the prominence of Shuddha Dha and Shuddha Ni.

  39. The combination NiSa ReGa immediately establishes Dawn - Dusk time raag.

  40. Poorva raags are more elaborate in the aaroha and uttar raags are more elaborate in the avaroha.

 

Taal (or Beat) is very important in classical music. Some gharanas in indian classical music present a swar pradhan gayaki (importance to sur) and some present taal pradhan gayaki (importance to taal or beat). Indian Classical Music must have three instruments along with the vocalist, tambora or taanpura, tabla and harmonium (or peti). In this section we will be looking at how different compositions are set to different taals.

The taals consists of different number of beats starting from 6 beats going up to 16 (normally). I have seen other taals with different number of beats but these are most commonly used ones. Before going into the details of the taal I would like to define certain concepts in taal so that it will be easier for the reader to understand the taal.

Khand : The each interval between the bars is called khand.

Sum (The first beat) : Shown by a cross below the beat.

Khali : Usually the beat in the middle of the taal. Marked by 0 below the beat.

Taali : Starting of each Khand other than Sum and Khaali is shown by Taali. Sum is taken as the first taali. The next taalis are numbered and shown hence from 2 onwards.

Following are the most commonly used, different types of taals. If the words are grouped toghether, its considered as single beat. Apart from the taals listed here there are various others like, dhumali, sulfakt, ada chautaal, sool, addha etc.

 

taal

 

Articles - Shrutis in Indian Classical Music - by Adwait Joshi - by Adwait Joshi


 

Shruti is nothing but a minor variation of a note. Its esentially a frequency. Indian Classical Music has 12 notes and 22 Shrutis in all. In the ancient system of Shrutis, Sa had four variants, Re had three, Ga had two, Ma had four, Pa had four, Dha had three and Ni had 2. Thus Shadja, Madhyam and Pancham have four Shrutis each, Rishabh and Dhaivat has three each and Gandhar and Nishad have two each. In the ancient system of Shrutis a pure note was considered to be on its last Shruti. Hence the division was as follows

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

25

21

22

 

 

 

Sa

 

 

Re

 

Ga

 

 

 

Ma

 

 

 

Pa

 

 

Dha

 

Ni



But as u can see because of this kind of placement of the notes, Ga and Re (also Dha and Ni) come very close to each other and hence take Ga and Ni become komal. However this kind of a system is not in use today.

The modern style places the notes on its first Shruti instead of the las. Hence the division was as follows

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

25

21

22

Sa

 

 

 

Re

 

 

Ga

 

Ma

 

 

 

Pa

 

 

 

Dha

 

 

Ni

 



Thus the notes are pretty evenly distributed and can be easily sung.

 

Articles - Why is it tough to classify Hindi/Marathi songs into Raags - by Adwait Joshi - by Adwait Joshi


 

Raags in Indian Classical Music are identified by five distinctive characteristics. Aaroha (Ascent), Avaroha (Descent), Pakad (Flow), Vaadi (Most important note) and Samvaadi (Second most important note). Almost each raag will have all of these five components associated with it except for extremely rare raags where there is no specific Aaroha and Avaroha defined. Each of these five characteristics are extremely important in their own respect. Many raags have the same notes and can also possibly have the same Aaroha and Avaroha, but what seperates them is the Pakad, Vaadi and Samvaadi. This makes is very difficult to predict the raag of a light music song just looking at the notes. There are numerous examples in which you can see that the song consists of the notes of one particular raag however it belongs to another raag, because of the flow of the notes (Pakad).

Another level complexity gets added to the equation beause light music typically doesnt follow the rules of Indian Classical Music. It has the liberty of using notes that are not present in the raag or even the liberty of changing the Aaroha, Avaroha and Pakad. In order to add a little spice to the song, the composer may add extra notes to it. This not only embellishes the composition but also makes it unique.

Another most important aspect of light music is to give due importance to the lyrics. A composer would never want to compose a sad song in a very joyous romantic raag. In order to adhere to the beauty of the lyrics it becomes imperative to maintain the mood of the poem. In order to achieve this, a composer may have to change the raags multiple times in a song, sometimes, even in the same line.

Having said that, its not uncommon to find some songs that follow all the rules and regulations of a particular raag. In that case its an open and shut case to identify the raag of such song.

Now it can be clear why its difficult to classify a song in a specific raag. So the next time you hear the song and cannot identify the raag, dont worry you are not the only one. Just enjoy the music and the composition.

 

Articles - Thumari, Dadra and other semi-classical forms in Indian Classical Music - by Chaitanya Kunte - by Chaitanya Kunte


 

Chaitanya Kunte is a disciple of Dr. Arawind Thatte. Chaitanya has created a niche for himself as a talented and well appreciated young composer. His compositions cover a wide range of genre such as Khayal, Tappa, Tarana, Chataranga, Sadra, Sargam Geet, Thumari, Dadra, Bhajan etc. In the following article Chaitanya shares his knowledge about Thumari and other Semi Classical music forms in Indian Music.

 

Thumari stands as an important and dominant genre in Indian music along with Dhrupad, Khayal and Tappa; as a well-accepted genre by all performers, musicologists and audience. With keeping its unique character intact as a musical form, Thumari has its own idiom, scholastic tradition, aesthetics and mannerisms, which are in many ways different than Khayal and Tappa, but still there are many commonalities.

 

The Hindi word 'Thumari' is said to be derived from - 'Thumakna' meaning an attractive gait. So, literary meaning is 'the song having attractive - rather sensuous, gait of melody and rhythm'. The content of sensuousness is the main emotive basis in Thumari, though there are many compositions of Thumari depicting the devotional aspect. An example of thumri is Bari Umar Larkaiya Na Chhedo Saiyyan by Shobha Gurtu

 

Origin:
Some musicologists speculate about the traces of Thumari in ancient form - 'Charchari Prabandh' or 'Hallisak Geeti'. But the available documentation on Thumari mentions its origin in around 16-17th century A.D. Thumari is said to be originated from the songs of Northern Indian folks, specifically from the region between Ganga - Yamuna Rivers.

 

Language:
These songs are basically in the regional dialects of Hindi such as Awadhi, Bhojpuri, Mirzapuri, etc. But there are some compositions of Thumari in other languages such as Rajasthani, Marathi and Bengali, also. The dialect of Thumari is soft and tender than any other forms and it allows making colloquial usage of words to sound them elastic, for example - 'Paani' becomes 'Paniyaa' and 'Piyaa' turns into 'Piu' or 'Piyaruwa', etc.

 

Subject matter:
Thumari portrays mainly various moods in love - unison, separation and such ups and downs in the journey of relationship. The main character in the lyric of Thumari is mostly a woman in love, and the illustration differs in the stages of the disposition such as age, social status, etc.

 

Musical characteristics:
In Thumari, the lyrics i.e. 'Bol-ang', is very important. So, the musical elaboration of the words with different shades is focused in the rendering, which is called as 'Bol Banaao'. Thins involves Alap, some times with mixtures of Raags for highlighting the sentiments. After singing the Sthayi and Antara in slow tempo, usually there is rendition of words in fast progression on Tabla called 'Laggi' when the singer twists the words with melodic variations called as 'Bol-Baant'.

 

Raags:
Thumari is sung mostly in the so called 'lighter' Raags such as Khamaj, Kafi, Tilang, Desh, Tilak Kamod, Sorath, Piloo, Mand,Manjh-Khamaj, Jogia, Kalingda, Shiv-ranjani, Bhairavi, etc. in which there is wider scope for emotive improvisation with the subtleties in Alankaars, mixtures of Raags. So, many times, Thumari is found in combination of some Dhuns, so called as 'Jhilla' and 'Jangulaa'. But the tradition has gifted us some Thumaris in raags typical of Khayal, such as Bihag, Shahana, Sarang, Poorvi, Kalyan, Sohni, etc.

 

Taals:
The Taals for Thumari are Deepachandi, Addha, Ikwaai, Sitarkhani, and some 'Bandhi Thumari' is to be sung in Jhaptaal, Ektaal also. There taals of smaller cycle, derived from folk music, that are Kehrawa, Dadra, Khemta, Chachar which are used for the compositions of Dadra, in fast tempo. Some able Thumari singers also sing Thumari in slow tempo Kehrawa or Dadra.

 

Difference between Thumari and Dadra:
'Dadra' can be explained as a speedier version of Thumari, approximately. Though the name suggests about the Taal Dadra, the compositions are set in other taals than dadra such as Kehrwa and Chachar. An example of a dadra is Savare Aijaiyo by Dr Vasantrao Deshpande

 

Though Thumari and Dadra are mentioned always as a twin-term, there is some distinction -
 

  1. Thumari is usually sung in slow tempo and Dadra is bit faster.

  2. Thumari has more elaborate, lengthy structure of improvisation than crisp, compact Dadra.

  3. The lyric of Thumari generally possesses only two parts - Sthayi and Antara. On the contrary, Dadra is decorated by and large with more than one Ataras.

  4. Thumari mostly says purely about the human love relationship. But the songs in the category of Dadra such as Kajri, Jhoola, Hori, Chaiti, etc. mostly depict the nature, seasonal variation and the human sentiments in that reference.


 

Forms under the umbrella of Dadra:
 

  • Kajri: 'Kajri' word means 'Black - rainy clouds'. Kajri mainly explains the pathos of a separated lover during rainy season. But the typical of Mirzapuri Kajri also narrates the joy in rains. Eg. Shobha Gurtu - Tarsat Jiyara Hamar Naihar Me

  • Sawan: Sawan also is a rainy season song, but rather than explaining the human sentiments, it gives emphasis on the seasonal beauty. Eg. Shobha Gurtu - Sakhi Sawan Aayo

  • Jhoola: This is the song while playing the swings, sung by women in north India during the rainy season, with the depiction of romantic mood of Lord Krishna and Radha. Eg. Shobha Gurtu - Jhoola Dheerese Jhulao

  • Chaiti: Song to be sung in the summer month, Chaitra, which has depiction of girl asking for new bridal dress to her husband, mostly. In Chaiti, there is usage of words 'Ho Raam'. Eg. Shobha Gurtu - Chaitar Chunariya Rang De

  • Hori: Hori in Thumari style is called as 'Kacchi Hori' in which the festival of colors is described. Eg. Shobha Gurtu- Hori Khelan Kaise Jaoon

  • Barahmasa: That has description of all the three seasons in the twelve months in Indian scenario.


 

Thumari and Bhajan:
'Bhajan' means devotional song, specifically written by the saint-poets such as Meerabai, Kabir, Surdas, etc. Many Thumari singers sing the Bhajans in the format of Thumari-Dadra. So, it adds the repertoire of the Thumari's subject matter, not restricting it only to the sensual realm. The compositions such as 'Saiyya Nikas Gaye' or 'Barse Badariya Sawan Ki' are fine examples of Thumari-Ang Bhajans.

 

Thumari and Ghazal:
It is a form of Urdu-Farsi poetry with its unique stylistic construction and subject matter is mainly related to love relationship. Till the first half of 20th century, Ghazal was also often sung in Thumari-Dadra format. But later, as there was development of distinct style of Ghazal rendering, this form was separated from Thumari's influence. On the other hand, there are some Dadras in which Sher's (couplet) in Urdu poetry are rendered between two Antaras. For example - 'Chha Rahi kali Ghata' (Dadra in Desh).

 

Gharanas in Thumari: Thumari is said to be originated in the Purab, i.e. eastern region of Ganga-Yamuna rivers in north India, so it is called as 'Purabi' or 'Banarasi' Thumari, which is sung mostly in slow tempo. Later new style emerge called 'Lucknowi Thumari' which gives more importance to fast tempo compositions, also called as 'Pachhahi Thumari'. Another school in Thumari came out, that was 'Punjabi Thumari' which has lighter rendering, but fanciful and startlingly attractive phrases.

Benaras Gharana - Girija Dev - Pilu - Preeti Kiye
Punjab Gharana - Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan - Pilu - Kate Na Birha Ki Raat

 

Articles - Tappa an Overview - by Chaitanya Kunte - by Chaitanya Kunte


 

Chaitanya Kunte is a talented composer, Harmonium player and scholar in the field of Hindustani music. He has received fellowship from Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India for research work on Tappa. This article is derived from this research document and exclusively written for SwarGanga.

 

What is 'Tappa'?
Tappa is one of the major genres of musical tradition in India. 'Tappa' is believed to be originated from musical talent of Ghulam Nabi Shori, i.e. Shori Miyan after getting influenced by folk music of Punjab and Sindh. It is supposed that Tappa is originally, the folk song of camel-drivers of Punjab-Sindh region, so it contains the lyrics in Punjabi language. Basically the lyrical content depicts the love and sorrow of separation of Hir and Ranjha or any lovers. Raags expressing romance, light mood or pathos such as Khamaj, Kafi, Bhairavi, Jhinjhoti, Tilang, Sindhura, Des, and Taals such as Punjabi, Pashto, Sitarkhani are popularly practiced for Tappa. The special feature of Tappa is the energetic Taan and uneven rhythmic accent.

 

About Shouri Miyan:
Ghulam Nabi Shori alias Shori Miyan, son of Ghulam Rasool Khan was court-singer of Nabab Asaf Uddoullah of Lucknow (1776-1797 A.D.) The common myth tells that he was initially trained in Khayal singing and had a great command on 'Taan'. He was not satisfied with Khayal for expressing his skill of singing Taan. So, he restlessly traveled in Punjab, where he listened to the folk songs of camel-drivers, which he thought to be suitable for his own style of singing. He composed 'Tappa' using various ornamentations with Taan, Jamjama, Khatka, etc. In the Tappas of Shori Miyan, in Antara we find his name as 'Shori'.

 

Tappa Gayaki:
The style of singing Tappa involves intricate patterns of typical 'Taan of Tappa'. In Taal Punjabi, which is also called as 'Tappe ka theka', each cycle of Taal should have the 'tension and release' principle followed during singing Taan. The rule about improvising Tappa is, firstly show the Thumri-ang in Alap and then proceed towards the Tanayyat, using the words woven in speedy and uneven rhythmic accent. Tappa does not include only acrobatics of 'Tanayyat', but it has an important aspect of emotional content produced through the appropriate pronunciation of the lyric. The 'Chhoot Taan' in Tappa has a typically Arabic character - starting with a jerk, it slows down and then again gets accelerated. The words are uttered by uneven pace and accent, which is another feature of Tappa. Tappa gayaki also inculcates other ornamentations such as jamjama, gitakari, khatka, murki, harakat. Tappa is a specialty of Gwalior Gharana. There are two main styles of Tappa singing - Tappa in Gwalior Gharana and of Benaras Gharana. There are a few structural differences such as use of Taal and style of improvisation, but the fundamental principles are the same.

One can notice the influence of Tappa gayaki on the Khayal rendering of vocalists from Gwalior and Benaras gharana. Even the singers from Patiyala gharana have some glimpse of Tappa in their Taan. The influence of Tappa on the other genres culminated into the development of dual natured compositions such as Tap-Khayal, Tap-Tarana, Tap-Thumari, etc.

The Laawani, Keertan and Natya-sangeet in Maharashtra are also influenced with Tappa Gayaki. There few Marathi Tappas also. Nidhubabu's Bengali Tappa and the impact of Tappa on the Rabindra Sangeet also reflects the popularity of Tappa as genre in the last century.

Tappa in the last century:
In school of Gwalior, Krishnarao Pandit and Rajabhaiyya Punchhawale flourished as important Tappa singers in the early decades of 20th century. In the post independence period, Balasaheb Puchhawale, Sharachchandra Arolkar, Jal Balaporia, etc. were the torchbearers in this tradition. Arolkar's disciples such as Sharad Sathe and Neela Bhagwat had kept the tradition intact. In the scenario of performing stream, the most illustrious Tappa performer from Gwalior Gharana is, no doubt, Malini Rajurkar! In 60's and 70's, when Tappa did not remain frequent in concerts, she popularized Tappa in common audience; and by so, she became a reason for rousing general curiosity for Tappa in later generations. Her excellence in Tappa is marked with her clear, bright Taan and some new techniques she used in exploring Tappa such as Murcchana.

Pt. Kumar Gandharva, the famous maestro of Gwalior Gharana, had his own ideas about Tappa and he presented a special concert - 'Thumarai-Tappa-Tarana Mehfil' in which he deliberately displayed this thought on the co-relation of these three forms. He also composed few Tappas, in Punjabi as well as Malawi dialect. His disciples, Mukul Shivaputra and Vijay Sardeshmukh attest proficiency in Tappa rendering. Jitendra Abisheki studied Tappa from both, Gwalior and Banaras school, and his disciple Vijay Koparkar is an accomplished Tappa singer in contemporary scene. Popular artistes like Arati Ankalikar, Asha Khadilkar and Manjiri Asnare exhibit their inclination for Tappa while performing in concerts, which shows rising popularity for Tappa. In Benaras Gharana, after many masters of Tappa in early decades of 20th cent, such as Bade Ramdasji and Sidhheshwari Devi, noteworthy vocalists giving full justice to Tappa are Girija Devi , Rajabhau Kogje, Ganesh Prasad Misra, Rajan and Sajan Misra.

Very few instrumentalists, such as Pt. Budhaditya Mukherji (Sitar) and Dr. Arawind Thatte (Harmonium) have performed Tappa on their instruments with much precision and command.

 

Text from http://www.swarganga.org

 

 

 

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