The ubiquitous Kaharvaa, a time-cycle consisting of eight matras or time-units, is not just heard in vocal recitals but is also used to accompany instrumental renditions of dhun (literally melody or tune). Broadly speaking, a dhun is an instrumental interpretation of the thumri or dadra forms that exist in the Hindustani vocal music repertoire. In some cases, instrumentalists borrow the actual melody of established thumris or dadras, but there are others who prefer to compose their own melodies in raags that are conventionally used for these forms. In either case, performers follow the melodic flexibility that is very much a part of thumri and dadra renditions, in that they may choose to move from the original raag to another.
But renditions of dhuns and thumris differ in the choice of taals. More often than not, instrumentalists prefer to set their dhuns to Kaharvaa or the six-matra Dadra or even to a faster-paced 14-matra Deepchandi. This is unlike thumris, which are normally heard at slow pace in Deepchandi or the 16-matra Jat. Thus, dhuns are closer to dadras, which are normally in Kaharvaa and Dadra and are often faster-paced than thumris. Perhaps, the absence of words in instrumental renditions poses a challenge for the kind of melodic elaboration heard in thumri recitals, and the dhuns therefore follow the dadra framework.
In the sixth and final episode of our series on Kaharvaa, we listen to a few dhuns that are set to this taal.
We begin with a dhun in Mishra Pilu played by sitar virtuoso Rais Khan.
The second track features sitar maestro Ravi Shankar playing a dhun in Mishra Pahadi. He changes from the dhun set to Kaharvaa to another composition in the 16-matra Teentaal. The performance ends with the climactic and percussive jhala.
We end the episode with a dhun played by the inimitable shehnai exponent Bismillah Khan.