In the ongoing series about tabla accompaniment for Hindustani music and dance, we had heard examples of bandish ki thumri set to the 16-matra Teentaal in the last episode. Today, we listen to two compositions from the same form but accompanied by Sitarkhani or Addha, another popular 16-matra taal.

The first recording features the famous thumri exponent Siddheshwari Devi. She sings a bandish ki thumri based on the raags Jogiya and Kalingda.


The second clip has a presentation of a well-known thumri in the raag Bhairavi. This thumri has been sung as a bol banaav thumri as well as a bandish ki thumri by different vocalists. Here, Mahadev Prasad Mishra sings this composition as the latter in the 16-matra Sitarkhani taal.


Listeners will notice that both recordings have extended sections of improvisation by the tabla player towards the end of the performances. This section introduced by the tabla player is peculiar to the thumri-dadra and allied forms and is called laggi, laggi-chanti or laggi-nada. These terms are used synonymously, though some sources define them separately.

Laggi refers to the section that allows the tabla player to launch into variations based on the eight-matra Kaherva taal or the six-matra Dadra taal, after the vocalist changes the taal of the theme to accommodate these patterns. The vocalist maintains this change as a refrain and introduces some variations to it, but the focus remains on the tabla. This section comes as a climactic end to a thumri or is used to intersperse verses in a dadra.

The laggi section originally complimented the dance of the women performers, who in addition to vocal music were also trained in Kathak and would add gesture, movement and footwork to heighten the emotional content of the vocal composition. The tabla player would reproduce rhythmic patterns that corresponded to the footwork, and at times, would anticipate and suggest other patterns. However the thumri-dadra renditions today do not include the dance element, unless expressly performed as part of a Kathak recital, the laggi continues to be an integral part of these presentations.

One of India’s leading tabla players, Aneesh Pradhan is a widely recognised performer, teacher, composer and scholar of Hindustani music. Visit his website here.

This article is based on Pradhan’s book Tabla: A Performer’s Perspective