The series on taals with the same number of matras or time units started last week with an episode highlighting the 14-matra dhamaar taal. Quite in the manner that this taal is employed to accompany dhamaar compositions sung in the dhrupad-dhamaar style, instrumental music too engages similarly with it. Of course, not all instrumentalists are adept at playing dhamaar compositions in this style, as this requires special training and an extended exposure to the dhrupad-dhamaar form. Often, therefore, instrumentalists who choose the dhamaar taal for their renditions fall short of the expectations of musicians and serious listeners. Clearly, it is the spirit of dhamaar that needs to be represented in its theka, gait, tempo, accents and volume. It cannot be a mathematically correct rendition in 14 matras.
Here is sitar maestro Ravi Shankar with a short exposition of a composition set to the dhamaar taal in raag Sindhura. Listeners will note that the melodic elaboration develops without losing sight of the pulse. There is no free-flowing melodic progression over the taal canvas. The rendition is frequently interspersed with tihais that are designed with a phrase repeated thrice in equal parts so as to coincide the last syllable with the sum/sam or first matra of the oncoming cycle.
The percussion accompaniment on this recording is provided on the pakhawaj, a twin-faced horizontal barrel-shaped drum.
The maestro plays a composition in dhamaar in this concert recording. The composition is in the late afternoon raag Bhimpalasi. The accompanist has used a tabla/dayan, the treble drum, tuned to the lower tonic in order to simulate the sound of the pakhawaj.
Once again this track demonstrates the emphasis given to the rhythmic interplay through the entire recital with quick and energetic responses on the tabla. The right-hand strokework on the sitar involving repetitive percussive patterns is also evident. The performers also incorporate several cross-rhythmic phrases and anticipate each other’s moves to heighten the intensity of the performance.