6. Visharad pratham

The Visharad Pratham exam will be split in two sections: Theory I and Theory II, taken on two separate time slots. The first section will require insightful knowledge about taal and theka and the relationship between laya and layakari. The student should be able to write tukdas and define new terms with a greater level of understanding. The student will have to compare and analyze taals of equal maatras. In addition, this exam tests knowledge of various instruments in Indian Classical Music as well as their classifications. The second section will require ultimate knowledge about tabla's history, gharanas, and baaj. The student will need to write various tihais in different taals. A comparison between different types of compositions will be needed. The student should have knowledge of even more great tabla players. Finally, they will need to know various riyaaz methods and practice techniques.

Sylllabus

Theory I

1. Difference between taal and theka: in-depth definition of taal. Knowledge of sum, taali, khaali, khand/vibhaag

2. Ability to write tukdas in teentaal and jhaptaal in baraabar (single) and dugun.

3. Definitions

  • aamad, peshkaar, kayda, rela, chalan, gat-paran, mukhda, mohra

4. Comparative analysis of taals of equal maatras

  • deepchandi, jhoomra, ada-chautaal, dhamaar

  • rupak, tevra, pashto

  • teentaal, tilwada, aadhaa, punjabi

  • sooltaal, jhaptaal

  • ektaal, chautaal

5. Relationship between laya and layakari and definitions

6. Principles of classification of Indian musical instruments and knowledge of these instruments

Theory II

1. History of tabla from its origins to present times: changes and developments

2. Knowledge of various styles (baaj) in tabla playing: characteristics and comparison

3. Gharanas of tabla and characteristics. Detailed knowledge of any 1 gharana from the following: Delhi, Lukhnow, Punjab

4. Placing and importance of peshkaar, kayda, rela, and gat in tabla solo

5. Ability to write 2 dumdaar and 2 bedum tihais in each of the following taals

  • teentaal, jhaptaal, ada-chautaal

6. Riyaaz methods to maintain balance between daya and baya

7. Biographies of the following tabla players and their contributions 

  • Ustad Salaari Khan, Ustad Munir Khan, Pt. Kanthe Maharaj, Ustad Gamey Khan, Ustad Keramatullah Khan, Ustad Inam Ali Khan, Pt. Purshottam Das Pakhwaji, Pt. Madhavrao Algutkar, Pt. Sakharamji Gurav

Notes

Theory I

1. Difference between taal and theka: in-depth definition of taal. Knowledge of sum, taali, khaali, khand/vibhaag

Taal and theka: Click Here

Sum- The first maatra of the taal is known as the sum. In other words, the sum is the beginning. In many taals, the sum is a maatra which has the most Bhari/content in relation to other vibhaags (roopak is an exception as it starts with khaali). The main function of the sum is to establish a time of resolution and emphasis. During accompaniment, the sum acts as a point of return, meaning the singer or instrumentalist may improvise their compositions and “join” the theka of the tabla player by converging towards the sum after each awartan. The tabla player may perform multiple bols and even short mohras to show the emphasis and land on the sum. During a solo performance, compositions such as tehais and chakradhaars may be played to arrive at the sum. The theoretical idea is that the first maatra symbolizes a “restart” of the cyclical, repetitive nature of taal and theka, and therefore represents a point of anticipated convergence.

Taali/Khaali- A taal can be demonstrated through taali/khaali in order to show the divisions or vibhaag. Each vibhaag of the taal begins either from the Taali or Khaali. Taali is a Sashabda activity which shows the weight or point of emphasis. Taali exhibits the starting-maatra of the Bhari divisions and is represented with a clap during Hasta Kriya. Khaali shows the point of non-emphasis without weight. Khaali can be represented by taking your hand away or striking with the back of your hand instead of the palm during Hasta Kriya. (Many stalwarts argue that the existence of Khaali was assimilated into Taal  in order to make the process of measuring the taal easier). One key point about Taali/Khaali is that while two Taali can come together sequentially, two Khaalis are never sequentially attached. In a musical performance, the singer can initiate or direct the taal by presenting the taali/khaali for the tabla player, if needed.

Khand/Vibhaag- The divisions formed by the taali and khaali of a taal are called vibhaags. A taal is characterized not only by the number of maatras, but also by the divisions of those maatras. For example, teentaal is divided into 4 divisions of 4 maatras each. There is no 1-maatra division in Hindustani Classical Music. The smallest division is 2 maatras and the largest are 5 maatra divisions. The divisions of the Taal establish the identity of the taal. The various weights, or points of emphasis for the taal, are established through the vibhaags. Some equal-maatra taals may have different vibhaags/khands in order to differentiate between the styles and characteristics of the taals.

 

Different types of taals based on their divisions.

Samapadi Taals: All divisions have the same number of maatras (Ex. teentaal, ektaal, chautaal, ada-chautaal)

Vishampadi Taals: Divisions are of various numbers of maatras (Ex. Dhamaar)

Ardhasamapadi Taals: There are 4 divisions. The first and third divisions have an equal number of maatras. The second and fourth divisions have an equal. For example Jhaptaal is 2+3+2+3 (Ex. Jhaptaal, Deepchandi, Jhoomra)

2. Ability to write tukdas in teentaal and jhaptaal in baraabar (single) and dugun.

Write tukdas from learned material. When figuring out a tukda in a particular number of maatras, calculate tukda with a stem of a particular number of maatras and a tihai fitting in the remaining number of maatras.

3. Definitions

  • aamad, peshkaar, kayda, rela, chalan, gat-paran, mukhda, mohra

AamadAamad means "arrival". In general, a composition which gives a sense or intuition of arriving on the sum is aamad. In dance music, the introduction of rhythmic bols spoken at the beginning of a Kathak performance is called Aamad. It is an entry movement that traces itself back to the Mughal era. It is known to evoke a sense of grandeur and represents taking command of the area. In other words, it is a stylized way of taking an entry during a Kathak performance. Aamad corresponds to “alaap” or “peshkaar” in Indian music. The structure of an aamad is a body followed by a tehai. The term “aamad” was utilized after the Mughal era, before which presentations would start with an uthaan. 

PeshkaarA peshkaar is an expansionary and improvised composition played in vilambit laya. It ends in vowel phrases such as "tin na" and "dhin na" and is used to unfold the taal at the beginning of a solo performance. A peshkaar shows a tabla player's expansionary process and understanding of taal.

More Info

Kayda- An expansionary composition with a balance of consonant and vowel phrases which begin and ends with a vowel phrase is called a kayda. Kaydas have khaali and bhari components and divisions. The divisions of a kayda may either be symmetrical to the taal in which the kayda is established or may fall in odd places. 

More Info

Rela- An expansionary composition with begins with a vowel but ends with a consonant phrase. A rela has rapid bols and is played in drut laya, helping to create a harmonious chain or musical flow. Many relas are abundant in consonants.

More Info

Chalan- Click Here

Gat-paran- A gat-paran is a composition/tukda with open, prominent bols. The term “Paran” comes from the Sanskrit word “Pern,” meaning leaf. Similar to a leaf’s main stem and small branches, a paran, coming from pakhawaj language, has a main phrase which branches out into other phrases based on the original. A gat-paran is a paran that uses the language of a gat. 

Mukhda- A mukhda is a short and attractive composition of a few maatras used to land on the sum. A mukhda is longer than Mohra but shorter than Tukda. The length of a Mukhda is generally equal to or less than one Awartan. It uses stronger bols such as those found in a Paran. Some stalwarts say that a mukhda usually is the combination of bols composed in the last few maatras of an awartan in order to arrive at the sum. It may or may not have a tihai.

Mohra- A mohra is a small composition used to arrive at the sum gracefully. It is shorter in length than Mukhda and uses softer bols. It is usually a pick-up phrase or hook played spontaneously in accompaniment to vocal/instrumental music in order to transition onto the next awartan. It may or may not have a tihai. 

4. Comparative analysis of taals of equal maatras

  • deepchandi, jhoomra, ada-chautaal, dhamaar

  • rupak, tevra, pashto

  • teentaal, tilwada, aadhaa, punjabi

  • sooltaal, jhaptaal

  • ektaal, chautaal

Scroll down to find comparative analysis in Taals

5. Relationship between laya and layakari and definitions

Click Here 

6. Principles of classification of Indian musical instruments and knowledge of these instruments

Click Here

Theory II

1. History of tabla from its origins to present times: changes and developments

Click Here

2. Knowledge of various styles (baaj) in tabla playing: characteristics and comparison

Click Here

3. Gharanas of tabla and characteristics. Detailed knowledge of any 1 gharana from the following: Delhi, Lukhnow, Punjab

Click Here

4. Placing and importance of peshkaar, kayda, rela, and gat in tabla solo

Peshkaar

In general, the chronological order of tabla has been adapted from that of vocal singing. The performance laya starts from vilambit all the way to ati-drut. The body needs a warm-up phase or interval in order to adapt to changes (such as weather, time changes, different behavioral patterns, etc). Peshkaar serves as a “warm-up” for the workout. Tabla in itself is a both psychologically and physically intensive instrument. This “warm-up” is a good exercise to prepare for the tiring kaydas and relas that may be played later. Peshkaar is a culmination point of intelligence, deep thinking, deep theoretical study, Riyaz, bol clarity, and aesthetic all at once, and thus is a valid point of introduction for the solo. 

 

Not all the rules that apply to kayda are applicable to peshkaar. For example, almost all bols in tabla can be played within Peshkaar. However, tite is usually not played (unofficial rule). Laya, jati, points of emphasis (wazan), khali/bhari, etc are all kinds of aspects that can be implemented in peshkaar. Although the composition may be similar to kayda, peshkaar has more room for spontaneous improvisation. Unlike a kayda, the distance between maatras has a very big importance in peshkaar. Additionally, a peshkaar theme in the delhi gharana usually starts with dha, while a popular theme in the Farukhabad gharana starts with “dhinSkdadhina” and has gained prestige due to the works of Ut. Ahmed Jaan Thirakwa. Peshkaar should be learned under the guidance of a capable guru. It requires a lot of personal thought, experience, and maturity. Some stalwarts are able to judge a tabla player’s candidacy simply by his peshkaar. A traditional peshkaar should not be memorized, but rather spontaneously “thought of” within the constraints of music and with an organizational, sensible pattern.

 

Kayda

The kayda is an extremely important expansionary composition as it comprises the heart  of a solo performance. It is the root of all expansionary compositions, however there are different opinions as to whether it preceded peshkaar or not. Although peshkaar gives a firm understanding of the respective tabla player’s thought process and readiness, kaydas are taught first during the learning process for a reason. The riyaz and grasping of certain key phrases are impossible without the repetition of different kaydas. This, combined with the subconsciousness of understanding laya through the practice of kaydas with a lehra, provide the ground root of a tabla player’s initial preparation. 

 

Doing practice of kaydas fortifies the dexterity of the hand and makes it easier to understand different aspects of the taal. Usually, when a human being is given a strict set of rules, he/she is given a specific direction to turn to, which first limits the scope and freedom. However, eventually, after devoting to those rules and practicing them over and over again, a certain understanding of life develops and the individual matures. The word kayda derives from the word “Kayd,” which also means “rule, arrest, capture.” And so the same logic of preparation through direction can be seen within a kayda.
 

Rela

While rela is also an expansionary composition such as Kayda and Peshkaar, it is not as expansionary as kayda because of the lesser variety of bols compared to that of a kayda. Bols are often time repeated. Additionally, a “rav” creates a harmonious chain given the fact that a rela has several harmonic syllables and consonant repetition. Common bols used in a rela are “TRKT, DRDR, dhinegene, etc.” The baya also has a prominent place in rela. Oftentimes, work on the baya is spotlighted in order to show the harmony and flow of the rela. Additionally, because of the disruption caused by playing ke and ge in various frequencies on the baya in a rela, a tabla player may replace all bols on the baya with “ge” in the bhari section and “ke” in the khaali section. In relas with majority consonant usage and just a few vowels such as “dha” and “dhin” in between, the vowels are given more weight and volume in order to balance the composition. 

A rela is usually played after kaydas in a tabla composition and is played in drut laya as the flow created by the heavy and closed consonants requires a fast speed in order to appear appealing. Additionally, the placement of relas is important because they are usually played in the 2nd half of a performance, right after kaydas, and serve as exciting, harmonic, compositions that engage the audience in the form of patterns and speed. 

 

Gat

A gat is a language of information, meaning it communicates the information of several different elements found in nature. The natural elements (such as waterfall, rain, speed of a ball, flow of a river, movement of a peacock) as well as the perspective of the artist create a composition which gives a unique experience to those avid listeners who can connect with such compositions. One significant point of the gat is that it ends before the sum, and it can end with a weak bol (this means no tihai and no strong “dha” needed to land on sum). All gharanas of the khula baaj have composed several gats, and Delhi has composed fewer gats than other gharanas. A gat is played twice to give an effect and to communicate the meaning, and that is practical given that there is no tihai associated with a gat to give any dramatic conclusion at the end.

Few types of gats

  1. Tipalli gat- 3 different layas are included

  2. Choudhari gat- every bol or phrase is played 4 times each

  3. Farad gat- “Farad” is a Persian word, which means “Ekkad” or “once.” Usually a gat is played twice, however a Farad gat played once is effective. Another characteristic is that its arrival on the sum can be unpredictable, but it still retains its aesthetic. Some argue that it is called “Ekkad” because we could not give a response or reply to the initial Gat.

  4. Sab-Akaal- There is a pause at different maatras. For example, if teentaal was to be divided in 4 vibhaags, then there would be a “S” at the beginning of the maatra, and the rest of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th maatra would be filled with bols, and then again the first section of the 5th maatra would have an “S”. Example: Sab-Akaal gat would start off with “SdhagetitaakdadhaSnadhet….”

5. Ability to write 2 dumdaar and 2 bedum tihais in each of the following taals

  • teentaal, jhaptaal, ada-chautaal

Compose tihais in respective taal with language that you have been taught. Bedum tihais have a 1/2 maatra pause or less while dumdaar tihais typically have a bigger pause.

Example for thought process:

Compose a jhaptaal bedum tihai

  1. Experiment with 1/2 maatra pause

  2. There are 2 equal pauses: so 1/2 maatra times 2 = 1 maatra, with 9 maatras left over

  3. Divide 9 maatras by 3 to get a 3 maatra phrase

  4. Compose a tihai with a 3 maatra phase and 1/2 maatra pause

6. Riyaaz methods to maintain balance between daya and baya

Click Here

7. Biographies of the following tabla players and their contributions 

  • Ustad Salaari Khan, Ustad Munir Khan, Pt. Kanthe Maharaj, Ustad Gamey Khan, Ustad Keramatullah Khan, Ustad Inam Ali Khan, Pt. Purshottam Das Pakhwaji, Pt. Madhavrao Algutkar, Pt. Sakharamji Gurav

Click Here