The third episode in the series devoted to Rupak, a rhythmic cycle of seven matras or time-units, focuses on compositions from the thumri-dadra and allied genres.
The first track features a jhoola, a seasonal form sung during the monsoons. Performed by Banaras gharana thumri exponent Girija Devi, the composition is based on the raags Sindhura and Barwa. Interestingly, the pace and framework of this jhoola seem to lend themselves to the 14-matra Deepchandi, but instead, Girija Devi has chosen the smaller rhythmic canvas of Rupak. The tabla accompaniment is provided by Punjab gharana maestro Alla Rakha, who responds to the melodic elaboration in a manner that is quite different from the typical accompaniment heard with such forms. He uses bols or strokes that are often used in ladis and relas, forms that are part of tabla solo repertoire, and also colours the theka or the string of bols that represents the rhythmic cycle through the performance. Well-known sarangi player Sultan Khan provides melodic accompaniment on this track.
The next track features Patiala gharana exponent Jagdish Prasad singing a famous composition created by the legendary Kathak dancer Bindadin Maharaj. The ease with the taal is evident in the manner the vocalist floats effortlessly over the rhythmic canvas, only signalling the vibhags or bar-divisions subtly. On the other hand, he introduces rhythm-bound sargam or solfège patterns between verses. Listeners who have heard Jagdish Prasad in live concerts will remember the inimitable manner in which he presented this particular composition.
The earlier composition has often been used by Kathak dancers to demonstrate their abhinaya or facial expressions and gestures, which highlight the song-text. Here is a short clip featuring Bireshwar Gautam, a Kathak dancer and thumri singer.