Our series on 14-matra taals continues this week with another episode dedicated to Deepchandi. Last week, we heard Deepchandi used as a rhythmic canvas for bol banaav thumri renditions. Another prominent form that employs Deepchandi is the seasonal song form chaiti, which has its origins in the folk music of the Gangetic basin but has been included by thumri exponents in their concert repertoire. This column has discussed features of the chaiti form in the past (here and here).
The first track in this episode is a chaiti sung by Shobha Gurtu (1925-2004), one of the most popular thumri vocalists in the past few decades. The composition is set to a medium-paced Deepchandi, which makes the total musical approach quite different from the bol banaav thumri. But like the bol banaav thumri, the chaiti also incorporates a change of taal from Deepchandi to Kaherva after the antara or the verse that follows the theme. Conventionally, chaitis have more than one antara, so the change to Kaherva occurs each time an antara is completed and the singer returns to the theme. Once the framework of Kaherva is established, the tabla player launches into the laggi section, which involves rhythmic variations of Kaherva and other short phrases that conjure up patterns that one would associate with the footwork of a dancer. The original Deepchandi is re-established after the completion of this section.
The harmonium accompaniment on this track has been provided by Purushottam Walawalkar and the tabla has been played by Aneesh Pradhan.
Deepchandi, also called Chaachar, has been used by some instrumentalists. The melodic elaboration follows the musical paradigm of the thumri form and is often referred to as dhun to mean a tune or melody. The second track in this episode features sarod maestro Ali Akbar Khan playing a dhun in Khamaj, a raag that has been explored greatly for thumri compositions. Khan departs from the established convention of changing from Deepchandi to Kaherva for the laggi section. Instead, at 9.25” on the track, he maintains the same taal but in double tempo. At 12.25”, listeners can hear another composition in the same raag, but set to the 16-matra Teentaal.
The accompaniment has been provided by well-known tabla player Shankar Ghosh.