Monday, February 22, 2010

Uthan, Palta Theka

Ok, so the whole 'Kaida a Week' thing may not be entirely accurate....BUT, I will record 52 of these, eventually. Sign up for email notifications (down, right). The blog will email you when I put a new recording up.

To get back into the swing of things, 2 of my very favourite introduction compositions: an Uthan and Palta Theka.

<a href="">Uthan, Palta Theka by Tala-Wallah</a>

An Uthan is an introductory composition, either improvised, or pre composed, that features heavy-duty tabla bols, and usually multiple nadais (aka subdivisions: 4, 6, 8 in this case). This particular composition has an absolutely massive tihai, with 9 repetitions of Dha tun na ke tete Dha- ne Dha - ne Dha - in each palla, so 27 in total. There are 81 Dha s if anyone is counting. The math is interesting as well...16-16, 16.5-16.5 and sum to sum. Composed by Swapan Chaudhuri.

The next composition was taught to me as a Peshkar, but it's much more like a Palta Theka. Basically, variations on the strokes in the theka, tintal in this case.

Swapan Chaudhuri composed this for a tabla ensemble at the Ali Akbar College of Music a long time ago, and it is really very lovely (the composition...not necessarily my rendition;). The development of the bols is orderly, yet incredibly interesting and creative. Note that the usual kaida rules apply here...bhari-khali and maintaining the original bols, but there is a bit more leeway...dheneghene (on sur) isn't in the theme, for example, but since sur strokes are such a big part of the theka, they fit. Interesting. Oh, and the tihai has kept me up late on many is a serious handful, and a perfect example of the beautiful complexity of Indian classical music.

I used the same Darbari Kanada lehara (from iLehra app) as last's quickly become a go-to lehara.

Update! my friend Chris Hale played the lehara on sitar. Hopefully, we'll be able to do this on a regular basis.


  1. Interesting to hear how compositions get modified across gharanas. What you're calling peshkar or Palta Theka is what we call Benarsi theka in the Benares gharana; it's one of the innovations of Pandit Ram Sahai. We perform it in place of peshkar in our solos.

    Anyways, sounds great and nice to hear you performing traditional tabla!

  2. Thanks dude. Yes, that is interesting, and 'uthan' seems like a very Benares style as well...can you elucidate?

  3. Hey... brilliant site! Please keep it up!

  4. This was awesome. I liked your rendering of palta theka...loved the tihai too...Also checked other posts... you play cool! Please post more... I would love to hear from you more.

  5. Thanks Anonymous & Mac. These last comments have been a good, inspiring kick in the pants. Will get back on the horse asap.

  6. Hey, I remember writing a long post about uthaan and Benarsi theka ... what happened? I got censored?

  7. Hey Shawn, censors here...that comment never come through the door...try again?

    Anyone else having commenting problems? (I publish all comments)

  8. hey how do you practice your tirakita? I am having a lot of trouble with this bol.

  9. @ Anon: in brief? Slowly, consciously and relaxedly. For a long time.

  10. Thank you! So beautiful! Zdenko, Croatia

  11. This one track was enough to make me run and buy the album! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!