MUSIC AND DANCE FROM INDIA
|Jyotika Dayal||kathak-dance & vocals|
|Allarakha Khan||sarangi & vocals|
|GŁnther Paust||moderation & management|
The name "Kathak" originated from the old word "katha" means narration. The kathaks belonged to a special caste of people, who thousands of years ago sat in the temles and presented to the visitors stories in the form of songs. To make the contents of these stories properly understood and to support the flow of narration the kathaks decorated their tellings with mimicry and movements.
Kathak was a well spread form of art in India, long before the written form of the stories came into existence. In the course of time, many different kinds of dancing styles were created. During the reign of the muslims, the kathak dancers of Lucknow came into close contact with the Moghul rulers and their style of dancing adapted to the taste and temperament of these sensual rulers. With the help of sophisticated dance techniques, a many sided presentation form of this simple religious dance was created, which finally served as pure entertainment.
The kathak dancers of Rajasthan, where almost only hindus ruled, retained the original style of kathak About 400 years ago the Sanskrit scholar Sri Janaki Prasad went from Bikaner to Benares and took with him the knowledge of this original form of the kathak. Graceful movements, body control, complex and intricate patterns of footwork based on a variety of rhythms are some of its characteristics.
Indian dance in the West has always been considered to be a religious ritual, but the culture in India is really much too complex, to be bound to such definition.
The Sarangi is a string instrument about the size of a Viola. It has an almost rectangular form, slightly curved at the waist and the neck as well as the corpus is covered with animal skin.
The three main, thick gut strings are pressed from below with the help of the pointing finger, the middle finger and the ring finger with the area of skin near the nailbed. Only when a cornea is formed in this area is the player able to produce a somewhat clear sound. This technique of playing can therefore be quite painful to a beginner.
The outward appearance of the Sarangi is marked by the many resonance strings and the small tuning peg. Where as the sitar has 13 and the Sarod 17 resonance strings, the Sarangi is fitted with 34 which have to be painstakingly tuned by the player at the beginning of a concert. Only after being finely tuned to a specific Raga can these strings together with the main strings, played by bow, be able to give a clear round tone.
Originally the Sarangi was an accompanying instrument for North Indian classic vocals but was also used to accompany the Kathak dance. It was in the last decades that the Sarangi was made popular as
The Tabla is the name of a pair of drums, the most famous amongst the percussion instruments in North India. The right drum, the actual "tabla", also called the "Daina" is made of wood. The left drum, similar to a kettle-drum called the "Baya" used to be made of clay, nowadays of metal.
A ring made of braided leather ( gazra ) helps to stretch the skin over the drum. The border of the skin ( Chanti ) comprises of two layers, which help the player to produce the highest sound on both instruments. From the border towards the middle of the skin is a single layered ring ( Low ) and then the black point in the middle ( Sehae ). The black point in the middle is obtained by the extensive hand-work of a specialist. Iron powder is mixed with glue and the Sehae is polished til the typical sound is obtained, the higher tone of the Tabla and the deep bass-tones of the Baya.
Below of the tuning cords of the Tabla are also wooden pegs. One can change the pitch of the tone by moving these pegs up or down with a hammer. A further fine-tuning can be achieved by carefully hammering on the outer circumference of the drums, on the leather belt ( Gazra ).
While playing the Tabla-player uses talcum powder on the drums to ensure smooth movement of the hands. According to Hindu-mythology the elephant god Ganesha was angered with the sound of the long drum which could be beaten on both sides. So he cut it into two and gave one half to his son. That is how the Tabla and the Baya came to be.
An old Indian proverb says: " The Tabla is not to be beaten but played".