Thursday, May 23, 2013

A pair of Jhaptal recordings from Cycles and more! WAY more!

Holy posting frequency Batman!

Suba Sankaran in the Cycles Space
As I mentioned, during the month of March, I ran a month-long creative collaboration laboratory (aka 'Happening') in the Arcadia Gallery in Toronto. The project was called Cycles. Basically, I moved my studio (instruments, recording studio, cameras etc) into the gallery, and recorded/ video'd/ photographed anyone who came in, doing whatever they wanted to do. This resulted in a LOT of material being recorded, among other things. (click that link for some crazy crazy stats!)

I had no idea what was going to happen, or if anyone was even going to come, so I made a rough plan: record a tabla solo (peshkar->chakradar), in various talas and shruthis, and crowd-source the accompaniment by recording and/or sampling people playing things to build leharas.

Well....people brought so much amazingness and wickedocity, I was pulled off the tabla-solo path pretty early BUT...I did record the afore-posted Tintal Peshkar video, as well as a Jhaptal Palta Theka and a completely wacked out Jhaptal Kaida.

Ready for some Palta Theka action? Here we go:

So...let's get this out of the way: non-traditional accompaniment! The credits on this piece are:
Ed Hanley-tabla, voice, udu, shaker, programming, recording, mixing
Larry Graves-Green Egyptian Parade Drum
Lisa Patterson-Duduk
Adam Ogilvie (age 2.5)-bell

This composition is an amalgam of stuff from a variety of sources, stitched together on the fly:
A Palta Theka from Pt Suresh Talwalkar
A Palta Theka from Pt Swapan Chaudhuri
Another Palta Theka from Pt Swapan Chaudhuri
Chunks of material from my lessons with mrdangam maestro Karaikudi Mani

The starting point (after theka of course) is:

Dhin - Na - - Dha - Dhin - Na - Dha - kreDha - Dhin - Na - 

and we end up at:

Dhin na Dha trkt Dhin na Dhin Dhin na
Dhin na Dhin Dhin na Tin na Dhin Dhin na

 Everything was video'd, so, when I get time, I will edit the video for this one.

What else...the G tabla I was using has a pretty significant buzz, so I decided to join it, rather than fight it, and I threw a wee bit of ye olde overdrive plugin on the tabla track. The lowlow kick-drummy sound is actually an udu drum run through major filters, and the cricketty chik chik sound is actually trashy can-lid jingles from my green Egyptian Parade Drum. oh, and Yay cheezy drum programming! And whoa...isn't the duduk just about the most haunting thing you've EVER heard??
A. Mazing.

OK! time to go to space dear readers!

Ever wondered what a Kaida would sound like with the baya at double speed, and the tabla at single speed? What about that same idea, but with 8 bayas in unison, and 8 tabla in unison? With a bass veena, didgeridoo and gongs as accompaniment? Well, your wondering-about-all-that days are OVER!

This one is in 2 parts: alap, then the kaida.


(    (  ( (( Bass Veena )) )  )    )
So, first of all, the alap...WHOA! That, ladies and gentlemen is Justin Gray playing his custom made Bass Veena. Imagine a lot of reverb when you say that, because it's amazing:
(    (  ( (( Bass Veena )) )  )    )

He's playing Raga Bikaskhani Todi, which is one of my very favourite ragas...a sombre morning raga...from the wiki:
It is said that this raga was created by Bilas Khan, son of Miyan Tansen. Bilas Khan is said to have created raga Bilaskhani Todi after Tansen's death; an interesting legend of this improvisation (it differs only in detail from Tansen's Todi), has it that Bilas composed it while grief-stricken at the wake itself, and that Tansen's corpse moved one hand in approval of the new melody.

Slightly creepy, but cool. 

So, the kaida. Guess what? It's this old chestnut again:
Dha-trekeDhinnagen Dhagetete Dhage trekeDhinnagena
DhagenaDhatreke Dhinne Dhagetete Dhage trekeThinnakena

Yup...same one I play here, here AND here. Yes. I like this kaida.

you put your left hand in,
you take your right hand out...
The how: First, i recorded the whole kaida to click in logic (you can hear it come in every other cycle or so) so I'd have a guide. Then I put a shawl over the tabla, looped the section I wanted to record, and recorded (in loop mode) the theme, each variation and the tihai, eight times each. Logic makes a new file for each loop, and stacks them, so once you're done, you have, in this case anyway, a massive wall of bayas. THEN...I did the same thing for the tabla part, but at single speed...which was a bit of a trip at times...very interesting and unexpected intersections were happening...syncopating in a whole new way. But the tihai was a problem!!: the tihai I play on baya in double speed will not work in single speed! They won't land on sam together!! tihai for the tabla part, with a Karnatic style expansion of Dhas...see if you can hear both tihais going by at the same time. Trippy!

There is some crazy patterning going on...the baya part is usually twice as long as the tabla part (because of Bhari/Khali, the tabla part is played twice for each single baya part, if that makes sense) so in this case the spread is closed: for each long baya part (bhari/khali) there is only 1 repeat of the tabla part. And now even I'm lost. Anyway. I thought it was cool.

Talia says: remember! safety first when gonging!
What friends Larry and Talia did a gong improv to an early version of the recording (before Justin recorded (  ( (Bass Veena) )  ) which involved hanging gongs from the ceiling (there was a LOT of stuff hanging from the ceiling actually) and gonging gorgeously while standing precariously on a chair and a ladder. At some point, I didgeri-did the didgeridoo and the track was didgeri-done.

But that's not all! Earlier, I sampled some folks playing bells and singing bowls are the full credits before I forget anyone:
Ed Hanley-tabla, baya, didgeridoo
Larry Graves, Talia McGuire-gongs
Justin Gray-bass veena
Laurie Stevenson, Wendy Fisher, Lori Fox Rossi, Vicki Persig, Christine Hein & Suba Sankaran-singing bowls and bells

and's a playlist of all the videos. (that link goes to the playlist, or see below...there's a 'next' button beside the play/pause button).
Each one deserves its own blog post, though not all of them are tabla-centric, they are all interesting in their own ways...poets, a dancer with Parkinson's disease, a whirling dervish, a lego stop motion animation in eleven beats! Hmm. That last one might have to get its own blog post:


  1. This is amazing ... as good as it gets..

  2. Very cool! I love the dancing *****s; caught me completely by surprise.