Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dha Dha gegenage

Oh's been almost 2 months! Who'dve imagined that the spring and summer would be so busy? ;)

So, a treat! Here's a composition very close to my heart: Dha Dha gegenage...

<a href="">Dha Dha gegenage by Tala-Wallah</a>

UPDATED. I've edited the text below, given that I have some new information...

This might raise some eyebrows, since, as far as I can tell, it's an unusual version of this composition

This was taught to me by Ritesh Das, my first teacher, and Ritesh's first teacher, Shankar Ghosh, taught it to him.

I have heard a number of different versions of this composition, though I've never formally learned any other version. When I play this version for most tabla players, I am immediately corrected...tabla controversy! BUT: this is the Jnan Prakash Ghosh version. That is my understanding, anyway. There are other versions.

This is a Chalan, more specifically, and Chalan-Kaida. Chalan means movement or flow.

Chalan is a pretty wide-ranging compositional form...some Chalans are short, fixed compositions, like the famous:
DhatiDha - DhatighenaThunakena DhatiDha -
KreDhet - Dhagena Ti - Dhatighena thunnakena
Ti - kttk Ti - kttk Ta trkttk Ta trkttk
trkttgDha trkt DhatiDhagena DhatiDhagena

This type has only a few versions, and is presented more like a gat, thukra or chakradar. Others are structured more like Kaidas, i.e. theme and variations, and, as I learned yesterday, even Peshkar-Chalans exist. Excellent! The Reese's peanutbutter cup of tabla compositions! ;)

So, here's the little history I've gleaned: The original version was modified (re-composed?) by Jnan Prakash Ghosh, and is more Na-heavy than the original. There is a story that someone played this new version for tabla giant Karamatullah Khan, and his response not terribly positive. Still...Jnan Pakash Ghosh was unquestionably a master tabla player and composer, and I adore this composition. I'd love to learn the other one(s).

This is another one of those very deep tabla compositions...the more I play it, the more the possibilities open up. I thought it was all about NaNa when I first learned it years ago....then Dhene seemed to be defining things...of course Tete is it's own universe as well...and the baya is like long, slow ocean swells....if I could get them all singing and flowing together, equally balanced, I think the picture would be complete. Actually...I think that the beauty of this composition is that different elements come into focus as the kaida progresses. The art is in being able to smoothly and seamlessly draw the ear from one to another as they develop.

Check out Dhene for sets up its own pattern within the complexity around it, and the first bunch of variations highlight Dhene, creating lovely little patterns. Then, TageTeteGhege comes into focus, then Nanaghene...heh...this is rather too subjective. If you zoom in on other elements, you'll hear different things. Very cool. I LOVE tabla.

What else...I did the lehara myself this time...I might record someone else playing later. I'm trying to coordinate with a dilruba player. OH! and I love that Ta is on sur in the 2nd part of the theme and variations (TegeTete gege), and the way the 2nd part morphs in size to accommodate the first part tickles me to no end.

Things start with a short tihai (from khali), then directly into the theme, single speed, then double. No theka, I know I know, bad Talawallah!, but I like the intensity of this composition, and didn't want to have a drawn-out introduction.

Hope everyone is having a grand summer!

Thanks to my teacher and good friend Subhajyothi Guha for the history of this composition, and to Kirby Shelstad and Don Robertson who initially identified it as a Chalan on Facebook. Thanks!

Percolates. I wanted to use percolates in here somewhere, but it didn't fit. Percolates.


  1. Hi Ed, Very Nice sound and great tempo, I've had this one for awhile too and have known it as a Chelan from Farukabhad Garana...

    Never heard with the Sur Ta on second 1/2, sounds cool!


  2. Thanks Kirby! A chelan, eh? The plot thickens! ;)

  3. I really want to see a video of your description accompanying this. Make it happen please!! ;-)

  4. Memsaab, sometimes I wish I had synesthesia so I could see what tabla looks like...I'd totally film it too!...but this is as close as I can get ;)

  5. Well it's pretty darn close :) Very inspiring, even without any use for percolates...

  6. So, I've learned a LOT more about this history of this composition in the past 2 days, and have edited the post to reflect the new info. Thanks to all contributors!

  7. Here are Don's comments from Facebook...good info here, and I hope Don doesn't mind me reposting...:

    Don Robertson: There seems to be one type of Farrukhabad chelan that has four lines, the 2nd and 4th the same. If just the first two lines are played, then it is a kaida only. The gena-ta genatete chalan that was performed by Kermatulah Kahn on Gottlieb's recordings was, according to Nayan Ghosh (if I remember correctly) build out from the first two lines... a dehli kaida.

    Don Robertson: Shankar Ghosh taught me the famous DhatiDha- Dhatigena thunakena DhatiDha- piece, calling it a chalan, but Gert Wegner learned it from Nikhil Ghosh and called it a gat, which makes the most sense, because it resembles other Farrukhabad gat-kaidas.

  8. ed you killed it. this is fantastic! :) i need to start practicing this one again.

  9. Tala-Wallah,

    I'm learning it from my teacher at present.... and as mentioned in first post, this is a Farukabad Chalan but i dont have any thing to back that statement.

    I must say you've described it the way i like to view it. Initially i thought it was all about how Ta sounded intertwined with the other bols. Then as i concentrated on DheNe Gene i thought, even this could be the star of the composition... and so on for Tete and GheGhe ... This composition is so beautiful that it appears to be symmetrical when you try to "look at it" from different angles and one of the reasons i found that the bols are often repeated or changed a little bit in the varations... .What is remarkable is the thinking behind these variations so that they are "very close to one another" thereby creating that "symmetric feel". Perhaps the word "symmetric feel" is incorrect.. it's more like a group dance where everyone is a star.. I hope you get my point.

    Very nice rendering of the Chalan!

    PS. BTW... how can i contact you directly. Could you please email me your email address? I think you have mine.

  10. Thanks Anita and Jim! Just back from 2 weeks away...such nice comments to come home to!

    Mac, I love your comment. This is a very special composition for never ceases to reveal new facets, and the variations I learned flow so nicely into one another...a group dance indeed!

    I think I have your email, but you an email me at and I'll reply from my regular address.

    I recorded another 2 kaidas at the cottage (yes...I took my drums and studio to the cottage...wait until you see the cabin I was in, and yes...I'm a geek) so another post is imminent.

    cheers all.