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Tambura Players
Lina Dass, Meera Shah
Tabla Player
Nayan Ghosh

About this album

The melodic basis of Indian music is the raga or melodic mode; and its rhythmic basis is the tala, a cycle of a particular number of pulses whose internal structure of strong and weak beats gives shape to the cycle and defines its overall balance. But there is another sense in which rhythm runs through the music of India, and that is in terms of the rhythms of the day and of the year, in which certain ragas may be associated with particular times of day or night, or with seasonal features such as spring time or the monsoon. Thus individual ragas may be described as belonging to 'the early morning', or 'late night', while others will have connotations of festivals marking the cycle of seasons in Indian cylindrical year.

According to the musical treatises which over the successive centuries have analyzed Indian musical theory in minute detail, the allocation of a specific time to a raga is based on intrinsic qualities within the raga itself, as reflecting the prevailing mood or sentiment of a particular occasion; and a raga played or sung at the 'wrong time' cannot hope to have its proper effect. The first written reference to the so-called 'time theory' of Indian music seems to be found in the 14th - 15th century Sanskrit text Sangita-makaranda, which warns of the direct consequences which follow an unseasonable performance.

'Melodies are liable to be killed if sung during inappropriate hours, and whoever listens to them at wrong hours courts poverty and shortness his life-span'.

A certain amount of license is allowed in the timing of performance, however, even by such apparently strict authorities as the Sangita-makaranda; occasions such as weddings, presentations of gifts, hymns to deities etc. are regarded as falling outside the terms of reference of the 'time theory': some authorities take a pragmatic line, asserting that on the stage, and under royal command, singing a melody at inappropriate hours does not amount to an offence.


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