Tappa is a Hindustani vocal genre that has the song-text intricately woven with the melodic elaboration. Quicksilver phrases or taans, quite different from those used in khayal, are the hallmark of this genre. They make unpredictable and dramatic twists and turns on vowels and consonants. I have discussed this genre at some length previously, but today, as part of our series on Khamaj, we will listen to tappa compositions that have been composed in this raag. The latter lends itself beautifully to this genre as will be noticeable in the following tracks.
We begin with a short, crisp but incredibly imaginative rendition of a Khamaj tappa by Sharad Sathe, one of the senior-most Gwalior gharana vocalists of the present day. The composition is set to Pashto, a rhythmic cycle of seven matras or time-units.
The same tappa is performed by Sharad Sathe’s guru and revered Gwalior gharana vocalist Sharadchandra Arolkar. I have deliberately chosen these two tracks to share with listeners the possibility of being creative while maintaining a degree of continuity in a tradition.
Banaras gharana exponent Siddheshwari Devi, respected widely for her renditions of tappa, thumri-dadra and allied forms, sings a tappa that cannot be easily categorised under a particular raag. But it demonstrates some characteristics of Khamaj. The composition is set to the 16-matra Addha or Sitarkhani taal.
The next track features vocalists Rajan and Sajan Mishra, chief representatives of the Banaras gharana today. They sing a tappa set to Addha.
The concluding track features well-known vocalist Malini Rajurkar. She sings a tappa in Khamaj set to Addha.