ß "The Cadenza in North Indian Tabla" (3) by David Courtney


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by David Courtney working tools

Note - This piece was previously published in Percussive Notes, Vol. 32, No 4 August 1994, page 54-64.


COMPOSITIONS (continued)



The tihai, sometimes called tiya, is the most typical of the Indian cadential forms. It is defined entirely by structure. A tihai is essentially the repetition of a phrase three times. This triadic structure creates a rhythmic counterpoint which produces a strong sense of tension in a performance. The resolution on the sam provides the release. It is so important that the majority of Indian cadenzas are based upon the tihai at some level. Figure 5 is an example of a tihai. In this example the phrase TiRaKiTaDha is repeated three times. The last Dha of the last iteration corresponds to the first beat of the next cycle.

  tihai Figure 5. Tihai in Tintal

There are three philosophies for the resolution of a tihai. By all accounts the most common is to resolve upon the sam. This is so common that most works on the subject do not consider anything else. However, it must be mentioned that on a few occasions one may resolve before, or after the sam. When one resolves before the sam it is called an anagat tihai. When one resolves after the sam it is called atit tihai.

The phrases of the tihai (referred to as pala) may be linked in one of two ways. One way is to use a time interval between the three palas (phrases). This is called a dumdar tihai. The second approach has no gap between phrases. This is referred to as bedum. These two approaches are shown schematically in figure 6.


Figure 6.

Structure of Dumdar and Bedumdar Tihai

The bedum tihai has a number of interesting characteristics. An example of a bedum tihai (Vashisht 1969:39) is shown in figure 7.

Bedum Tihai
Figure 7. Bedum Tihai

We see that the phrase TiTaKaTaGaDiGeNaDhaTiDha is repeated three times without any interval between. We may generalize the character of the bedum tihai in the following formula:

nL+1 = 3P
n = number of beats (matra) to resolve
L = layakari (i.e., single time, double time, etc.)
P = number of strokes in pala (phrase).

The application of this formula to figure 7 is interesting. We have to fill one cycle of tintal, therefore n=16; the tempo (layakari) is double-time, so L=2. The constant "1" is due to the fact that a 16 beat cycle actually resolves on the 17th beat (i.e., the first beat of the next cycle). The "3" represents the basic triadic nature of the tihai. This formula shows that it takes 11 strokes to create one pala (phrase) for a bedum tihai in tintal. There are many other values which could be used in this formula, however, contemporary performance practice usually dictates that all values be an even integer, and that common values for L are 1,2,3,4,6,8,12,&16.

The dumdar tihai has surprisingly different characteristics. Dum literally means "breath", but has the secondary meaning of a very small unit of time (Kapoor -no date). Figure 8 shows a dumdar tihai in a ten beat cycle known as jhaptal (Vashisht 1977:143).

Dumdar Tihai
Figure 8. Dumdar Tihai

In this example the expression DhaGeTiRaKiTaTaKaDha is repeated three times with a pause in between. This form may be generalized by the formula:

3P + 2D = nL+1
n = number of beats (matra) to resolve
L = layakari (i.e., single time, double time, etc.)
P = number of strokes in pala (phrase)
D = number of units in pause (same tempo as pala)

If we apply the above formula to the example in figure 8 we see the following relationships.

There are several constants in this formula. The "3" represents the basic triadic structure of the tihai, and the "2" represents the two pauses between the phrases. Again the "1" represents the resolution on the first beat of the next cycle. DhaGaTiRaKiTaTaKaDha yields a P=9. Remember that the dum (pause) must be normalized to the same layakari as the phrase (pala); therefore the last Dha is actually "Dha - - -", and the quarter note" -" becomes "- - - -". Therefore the value of the pause(dum) is 7. An easy way to think of it is that one is normalizing this composition so that the 16th note becomes the fundamental unit. Since this normalization required a four-to-one shift, our L=4. The entire tihai resolves in one cycle of jhaptal, therefore n=10. We get 3(9)+2(7)=(10)(4)+1. We see that this formula describe the situation quite adequately.

It should be noted that the pause or dum need not actually be a rest. It is quite common for bols to be thrown in to fill up the gap. The inclusion of bols in the dum is done for purely artistic reasons and has no theoretical significance.

There are a number of terms which are used with tihai. Occasionally the expression sankirna tihai or sampurna tihai is encountered. These terms deal with the usage of bols in the resolution of a kaida. If the entire theme of the kaida is used it is called sampurna tihai. Conversely, if only part of the theme is present, or if the theme is present in some altered form, the tihai will be called sankirna tihai.

We have seen that the tihai is the most important structure for the north Indian cadenza. Most of the cadenzas have a tihai in them at some level. Essentially, the tihai is the repetition of a phrase three times. The last stroke of the last iteration should correspond to the first beat of the following cycle. The phrases may be contiguous (bedum) or they may be separated by a space (dumdar). On occasion, terms such as atit (end after sam), anagat (end before sam), sampurna (full theme) or sankirna (fragmented theme) are encountered.

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