Continuing our series of taals that are rarely heard in performance, we move to the 15-matra Pancham Sawari. There are mainly two opinions regarding the manner in which the matras are divided into bars or vibhaags/khands.
The more commonly used structure follows a 4+3+5+3, while the second one has a 4+4+4+3 format. Reflecting these frameworks, the theka or the string of mnemonic syllables universally accepted to represent the rhythmic canvas differs in each case. In fact, even the second format has at least two thekas.
To begin with, we feature some tabla solos in this taal.
On the first track, tabla exponent Anindo Chatterjee explores Pancham Sawari in a solo recital as per the first format mentioned earlier.
The world-renowned trendsetting tabla player Zakir Hussain presents a solo following the second format. He is accompanied by the sarangi exponent Sultan Khan.
The next track features the illustrious tabla maestro Nikhil Ghosh. His solo follows the second format but the theka is different from the one heard on the previous track. He is accompanied on the sarangi by Dhruba Ghosh.
Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan and his son Ayaan Ali Khan play a gat or instrumental composition set to the first format of Pancham Sawari in a raag called Chandradhwani.
We end this episode with a short vocal presentation of a sargam geet (also called swarmalika) which has only solfège in the song-text. The theka of Pancham Sawari used here is quite different. Additionally, the composition is in double time (two notes in one matra) reflecting the double tabla strokes in many of the matras of the taal. The vocalist is Krishnarao Chonkar, who was a repository of traditional compositions. He is accompanied on the tabla by Shridhar Padhye and on the harmonium by Baban Manjrekar.
One of India’s leading tabla players, Aneesh Pradhan is a widely recognised performer, teacher, composer and scholar of Hindustani music. Visit his website here.
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