Krsna Kirtana Songs est. 2001 www.kksongs.org
There are three pieces in a typical stringed instrumental performance. The alap which consists of introducing the notes of the cycle, weighing each note in comparison to the rest of the notes of the raga and slowly develop the mood of the raga. The jod is the piece where actual phrases of the raga are more perceptible than the alap. Various octaves are introduced and actively played, while the focus is centered on the main octave. Both the alap and jod are not rhythmic in nature.
The jhala is in rhythmic nature. This does not mean that it will necessarily follow a particular rhythm as in a tabla tala. It means that it will have some degree of consistency that one can feel a pulse or a rhythm in the playing. When the tabla joins in a performance, the jhala will adhere to rules of tala, or North Indian rhythm.
The jhala, in sitar, consists of striking the chikari strings using a Ra (downward) stroke. This specialized bol is known as the “Chik” bol. The chikari strings will almost always have the Ra bol. The Chik bol implies that the chikari strings are struck simultaneously downwards with a Ra stroke.
Assuming “X” implies the chikari strike, one can develop simple jhalas such as:
S X R X G X m X P X D X N X S’
You can add more chikaris between phrases. For instance, adding three chikaris per note will sound like:
S X X X R X X X G X X X m X X X P X X X D X X X N X X X S’
You can even add multiple notes between chikaris
S R G X m P D X N D S X
You can even be creative and do something like
S X X X S X X S X R X X X R X X R X….
Having said this, you can add meends or any form of Indian ornamentation with the jhala. Only key thing to remember is that if you are being accompanied by a rhythmic instrument, such as the tabla, you want to develop good rhythmic skills and study the talas of North Indian music. If you are not familiar, you may visit the KKSongs Talamala.
Here is an excellent video to demonstrate the jhala.
UPDATED: June 23, 2009