Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

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Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#1  Postby girish_a » 08 Nov 2011 10:52

Yesterday, when the announcer on the radio said that the next composition (by the Maharaja of Mysore) would be in Khanda Jhampe Taala, it set me thinking.

Why did the composer set it to Khanda Jhampe (8 beats per cycle) instead of the ubiquitous Chatusra Triputa (Aadi)?

What is the deciding factor in setting a composition to a taala which has the same number of beats per cycle as another?
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#2  Postby mohan » 08 Nov 2011 11:20

I think it is because Adi tala (Chatusra Triputa) has emphasis on the 1st and 5th beats (and to a lesser extend the 7th) while
Khanda Jhampa has emphasis on the 1st and 6th beats (and to a lesser extent the 7th)
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#3  Postby msakella » 11 Nov 2011 07:09

Dear brother-member, girish_a, Yes, what our brother-member, mohan wrote is right. While composing his compositions, having already tasted the top-most sweetness of Adi-tala, the Maharajah of Mysore must have thought to taste the same sweet along with some hot for a change and composed this song in Khanda-jhampa-tala. We may not be able to relish it like him but there is nothing wrong in it in doing so.

Recently somewhere I have read that when, in a discussion, somebody pointed out about major-ragas and minor-ragas, the great veteran Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna retorted there are major-singers and minor-singers but not major-ragas and minor-ragas. That’s all. amsharma
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#4  Postby Nick H » 11 Nov 2011 14:50

msakella wrote:... the great veteran Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna retorted there are major-singers and minor-singers but not major-ragas and minor-ragas.

That's a wonderful quote! Thank you :)
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#5  Postby vasanthakokilam » 11 Nov 2011 21:33

But, wait a second, in the other thread where a similar discussion took place, viewtopic.php?f=8&t=17780 , the vibe was that tala angas do not have anything to do with emphasis but it is there for signaling the position in the tala cycle. But here we are saying emphasis on certain anga boundaries is what distinguishes a song in one tala vs the other (of equal cycle count)
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#6  Postby Nick H » 11 Nov 2011 22:00

I'm sure the answer to these questions is yes. And no! :lol:

Even in Western music, I used to ask, why is this 3/4 when, to me it sounds like 4/4 written in tuples? The difference between 3/4 and 6/8? ...or even 2/4 and 4/4.

It may even be that some of these subtleties are not even interpreted by the performer as they were by the composer --- even when the performer is a great master.

Maybe infinite possibilities is the answer!
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#7  Postby vasanthakokilam » 11 Nov 2011 22:03

Nick: I understand to some extent. If that is the case, then, why the strong statement in the other thread that angas are only for signaling. I think it was you who led us in that direction. BTW, 3/4, 4/4 and 6/8 are not just syntactical devices, you can feel the difference in the music, it is not just for conducting purposes.

I agree that in reality things will not conform to strict rules but the crux of the issue is if Angas are strictly syntactical or there is significant semantic ( melodical, rhythmical and lyrical ) aspects to them.
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#8  Postby Nick H » 11 Nov 2011 22:56

Angas are just signals ... but that does not mean that they do not reflect a structure that they represent, but the structure can be subtle to the point of appearing not to exist, especially with so much syncopation.

The western system is simpler. There is very much an implied structure in 4/4, with a greater stress on 1 and a lesser stress on 3, similarly 1 and 4 in 6/8, and a march should be 2/4 and not 4/4 (unless the men have an alternate-step limp!) --- but, for all this, composers and performers are still free to do something entirely different. And, as in the Zanders TED talk, art does take a lot of liberty with that structure
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#9  Postby vasanthakokilam » 11 Nov 2011 23:12

Nick, I completely agree that composers and performers are very much free to make subtle and not so subtle interpretations. This is art after all. So I do not have any opposing view point on that. But that is not my point.

If we do not have some semblance of established semantics, then interpretation and artistic deviation from the established semantics do not have any meaning. How can it?

Western signatures may be simple alright, but someone who is familiar with pieces in various time signatures can tell if a music feels like if it is in one time signature or not. This is nothing about syntax or notation or a tool used by a composer. There is an inherent musical meaning to it, as you said, communicated by the emphasis points. In that sense, western signatures are like our Nadai. We can usually tell what Nadai it is. At least, we can tell, "hey, this is different from the normal nadai, it has a different fell to it."

My primary curiosity is, are there such semantics for angas ( put in all the caveats that in practice songs will not perfectly adhere to that etc.)?

What Mohan wrote above is the commonly understood, and possibly, reverse-engineered interpretation of the meaning of some of the angas in the context of a tala. But it is not complete. The reverse engineered interpretation addresses the fulcrum point ( arudi ) of a line of the song. But what about longer count talas that have more angas?

--What do the treatises say, if any?
--How did the composers ( say the Trinity ) view angas?
--MD is supposed to have composed in all talas. Are there structural differences in lyrics. enunciation, poetic meter or melody that are anga dependent?

But we can not then say 'Angas are JUST signals' with 'JUST' giving the interpretation it is JUST for signaling where you are in the tala. That robs any primary semantic meaning from it. But if that is what it is, that is fine, but I am seeing massively contradictory views on that. Read the title of this thread which is succinct and clear and well stated by Girish. This is a
natural question to ask and it is asked often but I have not heard a satisfactory explanation for that yet.

There are three acid tests.

1) Can someone tell just by listening if a particular composition is in Adi or Khanda Jampa? As Mohan pointed out, yes one can to some extent based on the stresses on the beginning of certain angas. Is that the answer? If so, Angas are not JUST signals/syntactic.
2) Say someone is in a long niraval or kalpanaswara sequence. Can you tell what thala it is just by listening? ( not nadai )
3) Can someone with reasonable success spot the anga boundaries in a pre-composed song just by listening?

Compare this with the ease with which a lot of people can tell if a song is in Trisra Nadai or Kanda Nadai etc.

I am even fine if the answer is we just do not know if there are indeed prescribed/practiced semantic meanings of Angas but I do not see scholars stating it that way. Most books make a big deal of all this anga structure.

It is indeed a big deal, given the combinatorial problem they have solved, as Akellaji has uncovered with his tireless work spanning many decades. Is that a mathematical achievement or musical achievement? Or both? As Akellaji states often, talaprasthara is an integral part of the music knowledge domain going back centuries. All of that is for what? Just for waving the hands to indicate where we are in the tala cycle?
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#10  Postby Nick H » 12 Nov 2011 01:13

Can a lot of the practical points you raise be answered by asking an experienced musician (perhaps, especially a mridangist), "If you hear a completely new-to-you piece of music, can you determine the exact tala, especially when the number of counts per cycle is not, in itself sufficient to to provide the answer?"

At the most extreme end of complexity, we know the stories of old: of the mridangist telling the palavi singer, "if you will not show me the talam, instead of keeping your hand hidden, I am going home," but how about the ordinarily-complex levels?

I have always thought that they seem to be able to do so --- but I might be wrong. I wonder what msakella's response to this is, not only from his own experience, but from a lifetime of knowing many, many musicians?

I guess all I have done is re-phrase your point (3) :$
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#11  Postby msakella » 12 Nov 2011 08:37

Dear brother-members, vasanthakokilam & Nick H, To tell the fact, it is almost impossible to tell just by listening if a particular composition is In Adi or Khanda-jhampa. Angas are not just signals. For example if a composition is set in a Tala consisting 11 Drutas both the singer and the listener will be confused in every respect. That is why to make the process of either composing or performing or following or listening easy different Angas in a metre, even number without exceeding a single digit, some kind of emphasis like ‘Padagarbham’, different kinds of suitable gaps etc., etc., are followed. Just like having a particular number and sequence of digits of figures and letters in the number-plate of car or motor-cycle to make them easy to recognise, follow and remember, even in respect of our musical compositions, certain methods are followed either in composing or performing not only to make it easier to the following accompanists but the listeners also. Basing upon the individuals’ receptive abilities they could all be enjoyed or hated ultimately. amsharma
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#12  Postby girish_a » 12 Nov 2011 09:12

From what I've understood of this so far, setting the taala for a composition is not an exact science. So, in deciding the taala, I guess the composer chooses a taala based on where the emphasis is, but even here there is no strict rule that the emphasis should always decide the taala. It seems that to follow the emphasis is more or less a rule of thumb, so if a composition has emphasis on beats 1 and 6, it could be said that the composition tends towards Khanda Jhampa, or lends itself better to Khanda Jhampa, but that doesn't mean that it cannot be set to Aadi taala.

Is that correct?

I also saw something interesting. The Maharaja of Mysore has composed 94 kritis, of which 7 are in Jhampa (reference: http://forumhub.com/indcmusic/28912.27904.20.28.17.html - see the post by PPN on Tue Jan 23). Doesn't that seem like a rather high number of occurrences of Jhampa for 94 compositions in a single composer's works?
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#13  Postby Nick H » 12 Nov 2011 14:03

Thank you msakella.

Ongoing and interesting.

A salient point would be the shifting of eddupu. In some cases, this seems to emphasise the first beat in the tala, even by moving the start of the song away from it: in others, it can place the music, at least for part of the cycle, off-beat, such that someone like me may find it difficult to even find the tala!
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#14  Postby msakella » 12 Nov 2011 16:50

girish_a: In general, the emphasis may be on the beat and thus, for Khanda-jhampe on the 1st, 6th & 7th beats and for Adi on the 1st, 5th & 7th beats. The composition composed in Adi with the emphasis on its respective beats COULD ALSO BE SUNG in Khanda-jhampe or vice-versa. Setting or compositing a composition in a particular Tala needs more knowledge, ability and acquaintance with many things than mere listening and enjoying.

Nick H: That is why I wrote ‘Basing upon the individuals’ receptive abilities they could all be enjoyed or hated ultimately’ in my last post. amsharma
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#15  Postby Nick H » 12 Nov 2011 16:58

Excepting only that I don't find understanding to be a necessary prerequisite to the musical experience, of which enjoying is the first step, and touching the soul is the ultimate. Of course, it is a worthy aim, in its own right, and adds another dimension to that musical experience... which is why I am here on the forum :)
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#16  Postby vasanthakokilam » 12 Nov 2011 22:26

Let me get a bit nit-picky here for good reasons..

msakella wrote:In general, the emphasis may be on the beat and thus, for Khanda-jhampe on the 1st, 6th & 7th beats and for Adi on the 1st, 5th & 7th beats.


Akellaji: How general is this? This is what I was trying to get at earlier, the musical meaning behind the angas, beyond just tala-keeping external actions.

The composition composed in Adi with the emphasis on its respective beats COULD ALSO BE SUNG in Khanda-jhampe or vice-versa.


When you say "COULD ALSO BE SUNG", do you mean in the sense of 'singing exactly the same way but keeping to the Khande-jhampe kriyas' or 'singing differently respecting Khanda-jhampe anga boundaries'. If it is only the former, then musically it is not at all significant, right?
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#17  Postby mohan » 13 Nov 2011 07:14

girish_a wrote:From what I've understood of this so far, setting the taala for a composition is not an exact science. So, in deciding the taala, I guess the composer chooses a taala based on where the emphasis is, but even here there is no strict rule that the emphasis should always decide the taala.


Composing itself is not an exact science and there are different methods in composing (with respect to tala selection) such as:

a) composer has decided the lyrics and then sets these lyrics to a rhythmic structure (tala)
b) composer has set the tala and then chooses the lyrics to suit the structure
c) combination of (a) and (b) e.g. the pallavi lyrics are set to a tala so the subsequent lyrics (anupallavi charanam) are composed to match this tala

As an amateur composer, I have used all three methods.

VK - my initial response (about tala emphasis falling on the first beat of a dhrutam) was just my guess and may be more of a guideline/custon than a set rule.
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#18  Postby msakella » 13 Nov 2011 07:21

Dear brother-member, vasanthakokilam, In general, in our Karnataka music to give some acquaintance with the lyric to our aspirants we are used to teach compositions mostly @ one syllable of lyric per each and every Kriya. As we already have Geetas composed in the same manner we are teaching them. In the same manner to give some acquaintance to the aspirants even with the compositions set in Adi and Khanda-jhampe it becomes easier at the primary level to follow and get proper acquaintance with this Tala if the lyric is with the emphasis on the respective beats of the Talas. After getting reasonable acquaintance with this Tala the aspirant becomes able to handle this Tala even the lyric is on the off beat. That is what I wrote in my post.

After getting proper acquaintance with the Tala the aspirant becomes able to manage with any kind of lyric whether on the beat or off the beat. Thus, our kids are able to sing both the Purvanga and Uttaranga of Adi-tala Varna @ 4, 6 & 8 units or even the Ata-tala Varna in Mishra-gati-adi-tala. When they are able to do such difficult acrobatics of rhythm I don’t think it is difficult to sing a composition in a different Tala than which it is set. amsharma
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#19  Postby cmlover » 13 Nov 2011 19:57

Sarmaji
Raga violations in CM are not tolerated. For example when Ilayaraja tuned 'mari mari ninne' of Thyagaraja into Saramathi (though superbly rendered by KJY) there was furore. I assume the same should apply to tala violations though it will be less noticeable. If the total counts are kept right then even experts will not be able to know that the tala has been changed; especially if the stress points are not noticed. If the stress points are ignored,the mridangist will feel uncomfortable and he will get the blame as a misfit accompanist. Food intended to be eaten in a plaintainleaf may taste just as good in a silver platter but the aesthtic violation will be glaring!
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#20  Postby msakella » 14 Nov 2011 19:52

Dear brother-member, cmlover, Even Raga violations are tolerated in some cases. That is why Annamacharya Keerthanas are sung in different Ragas other than they have originally composed by the composer. But in respect of some composers like Trinity etc., such raga-violations are not tolerated. Even in respect of Tala some of the compositions set in Rupaka-tala are sung in Trisra-gati-adi-tala and thus, the violation in Tala is also tolerated in some cases. Even if the stress points are ignored many of the Mridanga-vidwans can very easily manage with them, But, mediocre-mridangists may feel uncomfortable in such cases. amsharma
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#21  Postby cmlover » 14 Nov 2011 20:07

Thx sarmaji for the clarification!
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#22  Postby vasanthakokilam » 15 Nov 2011 07:55

msakella wrote:After getting proper acquaintance with the Tala the aspirant becomes able to manage with any kind of lyric whether on the beat or off the beat. Thus, our kids are able to sing both the Purvanga and Uttaranga of Adi-tala Varna @ 4, 6 & 8 units or even the Ata-tala Varna in Mishra-gati-adi-tala. amsharma


Thanks Akellaji. That perspective sheds some light. Which leads me to ask the following...

When they are able to do such difficult acrobatics of rhythm I don’t think it is difficult to sing a composition in a different Tala than which it is set.


What does a composer need to do to set a composition in a specific tala ( apart from matching the number of kriyas per tala cycle )? More or less align the major emphasis points of the song with the start of the angas?

When someone sings viriboNi in mishra-gati adi tala, do they change the emphasis points or sing it the same way but keep to mishra gati adi tala?
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#23  Postby msakella » 15 Nov 2011 13:58

Dear brother-member, vasanthakokilam, To tell the fact, it is very easy to kids to do such acrobatics, if they are initiated and trained on the required lines. But, even if they don’t want to agree with me, it is not that easy to the elders to do such acrobatics. While the age proceeds their abilities recede. Many of the elders cannot manage even with singing a Varna in a single speed, leave alone other acrobatics.

If all the major emphasis points of the song start on the beats it will not give any contract and becomes dull just like eating only sweet. If you add a little hot also to this sweet you can eat more sweet. But, few people only can enjoy this contrast not one and all.

While singing Viriboni-Ata-Varna in Mishra-gati-adi-tala, nothing of the Varna will be changed but the ability of the render. If the render is properly groomed, initiated and trained by an efficient, honest and reliable teacher he can do many such acrobatics if not he can’t. That’s all. amsharma
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#24  Postby Nick H » 15 Nov 2011 14:43

Makes very much sense. I have mentioned before the example of certain metres in English poetry, where the child will read the rhythm, but the expressive adult will read the words, and thus, the meaning and feeling.

We have artists who are famous for being able to do "tricks" like putting different talams with different hands. I do not say "tricks" in a disrespectful way: "acrobatics" is probably a better word, as a lot of discipline and control is required. Even children amuse each other with "rub the head, pat the tummy; now change hands" as many simply can't manage it even with the flexibility of youth.

So: if an artist sings a composition, putting khanda Jhampa with one hand and aadi with the other: what then? For the purpose of the question, we assume that they are deeply gifted in musical expression, not just physical dexterity!
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Re: Why Khanda Jhampe and not Aadi Taala?

#25  Postby msakella » 15 Nov 2011 16:33

Dear brother-member, Nick H, Your ‘meaning and feeling’ are very enjoyable, dear. amsharma
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