Among the taals or rhythmic cycles that have been discussed in this column in the past, we have included a few that are firmly rooted in the folk music tradition of the Indian subcontinent. Today, we begin a short series on one such taal called Dadra. A cycle of six matras or time units, Dadra has its regional variants, but we will restrict our discussion to varieties, which have found their way into the thumri-dadra repertoire in Hindustani music.
As is evident from its swing, the six matras of Dadra are distributed into two equal vibhags or bars of three matras each. Usually played at medium tempo or slightly slower, there are several times when one hears of a variation of this taal played at faster pace. While some musicians refer to the faster-paced cycle as a different taal called Khemta, some continue to regard it as a faster version of Dadra and choose to retain the original name. To begin with, let us listen to Dadra as represented in the folk music of different regions.
The first track features the famous Maand composition Kesariya Balam, sung by Allah Jilai Bai, the renowned exponent of Maand, a song-form from Rajasthan. It is set to a medium-paced Dadra. The tabla plays at double tempo in the musical interludes and includes laggis or short rhythmic patterns that are reminiscent of dance steps.
Popular baul singer Kartik Das Baul sings a composition set to Dadra. The percussionists change to double tempo during the musical interludes and towards the end of the song.
The third track contains two examples of kajri sung by well-known folk singer Ram Kailash Yadav. The first kajri is set to Khemta or the faster version of Dadra, and the second one is set to the eight-matra Kahervaa. Kajri is a seasonal song-form sung primarily during the monsoons in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and adjoining areas.