Sonic Saturdays

Listen: Prabha Atre sings a quicksilver tarana

In this All India Radio National Programme of Music recording, she sings two compositions in raag Yaman.

Last week, this column discussed the significance of the All India Radio National Programme of Music in a performer’s career. The National Programme has always begun with an extended announcement of the main performer’s biographical details. The announcement is made in Hindi and English, probably to address the needs of a multi-lingual country.

Trained in the Kirana gharana, senior vocalist Dr Prabha Atre has imbibed influences from other sources, primary among these being the gayaki or vocal style of Amir Khan.

In this All India Radio National Programme of Music recording, she sings two compositions in raag Yaman. The first is a vilambit or slow khayal set to Ektaal. This column has highlighted the main features of Yaman in a series of articles that appeared earlier. In fact, another rendition of Yaman by Prabha Atre was included in one of the episodes:


However, this vilambit composition is unconventional in that it uses the teevra Madhyam or sharp fourth on the sam/sum or first matra of the taal cycle. The song-text is used for the melodic elaboration and Atre uses her light and smooth vocal delivery to present phrases that go beyond the accepted image of the raag. She gradually introduces sargam patterns at a slow speed, which are then transformed into taans or quick melodic sequences.

She moves to the second composition, a tarana set to a medium-paced Ektaal. Here, she employs aakaar taans with the vowel “aa” at a swifter pace than the sargam taans.

Yaman is followed by two compositions in the raag Bageshri, the first set to Ektaal and the second to Teentaal. The listener is drawn to the attractiveness of the raag, despite the rendition of the vilambit khayal having a similar architectural expansion as that of the earlier raag with the exception of the aakaar taans being included as part of the development. The drut or fast composition is laced with aakaar taans sung at great speed.

Prabha Atre brings her recital to a close with a thumri. Initiated listeners will recognise the melodic similarities between this piece and a couple of more popular compositions sung by many other vocalists.

Atre is accompanied by DR Nerurkar on tabla. There is no melodic accompaniment on this recording.

The Youtube track also includes a rendition of a Meerabai bhajan by an unidentified singer.

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