About an illustrious family of accomplished
musicians of Gwalior & Kirana Gharana
Raga & Taala
Raga (ragam in Carnatic music) refers to melodic modes used in Indian classical music. It is a series of five or more musical notes upon which a melody is made. In the Indian musical tradition, ragas are associated with different times of the day, or with seasons.
The present system of Indian music stands on two important pillars: raga and tala. Raga is the melodic form while tala is the rhythm underlying music. Together, raga and tala distinguish Indian music from many other musical systems of the world. The rhythm of music is explored through beats in time. Melody evolved as the raga through several processes; the tala resulted from a similar evolution in rhythm.
Thus raga, which means colour or passion, became a framework to create music based on a given set of notes (usually five to seven) and characteristic rhythmic patterns. The basic constituents of a raga can be written down in the form of a scale (in some cases differing in ascent and descent). By using only these notes, by emphasizing certain degrees of the scale, and by going from note to note in ways characteristic to the raga, the performer sets out to create a mood or atmosphere (rasa) that is unique to the raga.
The idea of the tala is embedded in the concept of time. In Hindustani music it is the artist who bestows quality on Time. A musician marks the beginning of his tala whenever he wants. He also creates his divisions in time. He thus creates the first beat. The flow of time is now released, channelled and directed. The artist then creates a beat to mark the first division or segment. With this first division in time the flow becomes comprehensible. The artist subsequently puts in successive and equidistant strokes. He thus makes available to us the matra, a measure to compute musical time. The duration between two matras is known as the tempo. The release of the time flow and the determination of the measure to compute it are the primary requirements to make a tala.
Repetitive time-patterns composed of groups of long and short duration time divisions are talas. In every tala in Hindustani art music clapping (tali), tapping of fingers and waving of the palm (khali or kal) are analogous. These weave a pattern of sound and silence. Ancient treatises enumerate 108 talas. However, contemporary performances are normally restricted to about 15 talas.
Repetitive time-patterns composed of groups of long and short duration time divisions are talas. In every tala in Hindustani art music clapping (tali), tapping of fingers and waving of the palm (khali or kal) are analogous. These weave a pattern of sound and silence. Ancient treatises enumerate 108 talas. However, contemporary performances are normally restricted to about 15 talas.
Talas gain life and body when instruments play their role. Instrumental sounds, when expressed onomatopoeically, formulate sound syllables. These sound syllables, when fitted suitably to the tala-divisions, create thekas, the tala-expression that is actually played and heard in Hindustani music.
Thus the talas function as accompanying entities in Hindustani music and dance. They also serve as the basis for solo renditions in rhythm music.
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