In last week’s instalment of this column, we heard how tabla players accompany the kajri songform sung by Hindustani vocalists. Continuing with our series on tabla accompaniment to Hindustani music and dance, today’s episode, the eighteenth in this series, focuses on tracks featuring the jhoola.

This is another songform associated with the monsoon, and like the kajri, this too is an import to the Hindustani repertoire from the folk music of the Gangetic basin. Typically, the songtext in jhoola compositions has imagery associated with the rains, but primarily describe Radha and Krishna on a bejeweled swing that hangs with silken thread. As is evident, the songform borrows its name from the jhoolas that are put up during this season in parts of northern India.

The first track today has a jhoola sung by the eminent thumri exponent Siddheshwari Devi in a concert setting. It is set to the eight-matra Kaherva. The verses are interspersed with laggi sections by the tabla player.


Celebrated vocalist Girija Devi sings a jhoola in an up-tempo seven-matra Rupak taal, a pace that is not normally heard in Hindustani vocal music. While there is no conventional laggi section in this presentation, there are frequent rhythmic interludes on the tabla. Tabla maestro Alla Rakha plays the tabla on this track and melodic accompaniment is provided by well-known sarangi player Sultan Khan.


We end with a jhoola sung by the Rampur-Sahaswan gharana exponent Ghulam Mustafa Khan. The composition is set to Kaherva. This composition does not mention Radha and Krishna, but describes two lovers swinging on the jhoola.


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.