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Chapter 24: Tihai
The last cadential form
discussed in more detail will be the indispensable tihai.
The tihai
is a cadential form which has a piece repeated three
times and has a resolution back at the sam. For mridanga players, one is already familiar with the tihai. Look at a common kirtan
groove on the Bengali khol through the Prabhupada tala.
Look at the last line of Diagram 24.1. This phrase
was repeated three times. From matra 5 to the end of
the cycle, three units were repeated. That unit was “kitā
tiri dhā.” That unit
is called the pala,
or phrase. That pala repeats three times. This leads
to a very interesting and important point to bring.
X 







0 



2 




1 

2 

3 

4 

5 

6 

7 

8 


dha 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
tā 
tā 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
tā 
ka 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
dhā 
dhin 
dhā 
dhin 
dhā 

X 







0 



2 




1 

2 

3 

4 

5 

6 

7 

8 


dha 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
tā 
tā 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
tā 
ka 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
dhā 
dhin 
dhā 
dhin 
dhā 

X 







0 



2 




1 

2 

3 

4 

5 

6 

7 

8 


dha 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
tā 
tā 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
tā 
ka 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
dhā 
dhin 
dhā 
dhin 
dhā 

X 







0 



2 




1 

2 

3 

4 

5 

6 

7 

8 


dha 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
tā 
tā 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
tā 
ka 
tā 
ti 
ra 
dhā 
ka 
tā 
ti 
ra 
dhā 
ka 
tā 
ti 
ra 

X 


1 


dha 


Figure 24.1
After the last pala has
been played, given that the performance or song continues, a new cycle is woven
into it. Since we defined tihai as a cadence form
with the pala repeating three times, we must also remember
that it must resolve on the sam of the new cycle.
Since, the “dha” of the last fundamental cycle ends
on the sam of the new cycle, this resolution took
place. The tihai resolved, or caught back up, with
the theka in this manner.

kitā 
tiri 
(1^{st} iteration) 
dhā 
kitā 
tiri 
(2^{nd} iteration) 
dhā 
kitā 
tiri 
(3^{rd} iteration) 
dhā 
theka continues… 


Also in some kirtans, when
you have expert khol players. You’ll hear Prabhupada tala being played a
few cycles, and instead of the tihai just mentioned
above, you hear them play this.
X 







0 



2 




1 

2 

3 

4 

5 

6 

7 

8 


dha 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
tā 
tā 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
tā 
ka 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
dhā 
dhin 
dhā 
dhin 
dhā 

X 







0 



2 




1 

2 

3 

4 

5 

6 

7 

8 


dha 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
tā 
tā 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
tā 
ka 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
dhā 
dhin 
dhā 
dhin 
dhā 

X 







0 



2 




1 

2 

3 

4 

5 

6 

7 

8 


dha 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
tā 
tā 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
tā 
ka 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
dhā 
dhin 
dhā 
dhin 
dhā 

X 







0 



2 




1 

2 

3 

4 

5 

6 

7 

8 


Tā 
Tā 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
Dhā 
Tā 
Tā 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
Dhā 
Tā 
Tā 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 

X 


1 


Dhā 


Figure 24.2
Did you notice how the second to the last line took
up one full cycle? Some tihais do that. Remember, it
is not simply by structure alone, but also by function and bols.
Even though structurewise, this is not a true cadence, as it consumes one full
cycle of Prabhupada tala.
Functionally, this would not be a cyclic form. Cyclic forms do not bear that
“tension and release” style as cadence forms have.
Nevertheless, this indeed is a tihai.
There is a pala, namely “Tā
Tā tirkiṭa Dhā –.” The pala repeats
three times sequentially. And notice, as we mentioned before in the last tihai, the last dha of the last pala is actually the bol of the sam in the new cycle. This is a resolution point.
If you exclude the fact that previous example tihai took one cycle and the first example took a partial
cycle, then there is another very important difference in tihais.
The tihai can either have three palas
connect simultaneously, like in the first example. It can either have an
equally timed pause between the three palas, as in
the latter example. Either way, they must resolve on the sam
of the new cycle.
The tihai without spaces
is known as the bedam tihai, while
the tihai with spaces is called the damdar tihai. Bedam literally means “without puff” and damdar means “full of puff.” Puff implies a pause. The
first tihai that we did was a bedam
tihai, as the three palas
did not have a pause. The latter tihai that we did
was a damdar tihai, as it
had equally spaced pauses.
Even though Indian music with notable exceptions did
not require mathematical formulas and explicit theories, there are two useful
mathematical formulas that could be used to work with tihais.
I found these formulas out through David Courtney’s website and indeed, these
formulas are very wonderful and acceptable to use.
The formula for the bedam tihai is nL + 1 = 3P. For
musical composers who want to create incredibly long tihais,
this formula as well as the damdar tihai formula are the way to go. Let us identify the
variables.
The variable “n” represents the number of matras you wish to resolve. Since we want one full cycle of
Prabhupada tala before, n
will equal 8, as Prabhupada tala
has eight matras. The variable L is the tempo known
as the layakari.
Layakari is actually the ratio of what is being
played over the actual number of matras. The layakari implies a speed as in singletime, doubletime,
and so on. The single time will have L yielding a value of 1, while double time
will make L equal to 2 and so on. Since Prabhupada tala, an 8 matra tala, can be counted as sixteen (try counting the Prabhupada tala out loud as if it
were a sixteen matra tala),
it’s layakari will be doubletime, or L = 2, since 16
divided by 8 is 2.
The addition of one implies that the resolution of
the tala will be on the first beat of the next cycle.
The ninth matra of an eight matra
cycle is, in actuality, the first matra of the next
new cycle. Therefore, the addition of one is necessary.
The variable “P” stands for the number of matras in the pala. If composers
want to find out how long each phrase should be, this formula will help them
find out. The value of P is what we are looking for. The multiplication of
three gives indicates that it is being repeated three times.
Let us see how we can make a good bedam tihai for Prabhupada tala using one full
cycle!!
Revisiting our formula for a bedam
tihai:
nL + 1 = 3P
n =
(8)(2) + 1 = 3P
16 + 1 = 3*P
17 = 3P
17/3 = P = 5 2/3
matras
What does this mean? As complicated as it looks,
each pala will take 5 and 2/3 matras.
It will really require a skill of a composer who can understand how to divide a
matra in threes.
Say we didn’t want one full cycle, but a part of the
cycle to bear the tihai, we had in the first example.
First we have to find out how many matras of the
cycle we wish to use. Since our first example used only the last four matras of the Prabhupada tala, we have to use the formula to have the number of matras equal to 4. Remember, n is equal to the number of matras you wish to resolve, not the number of matras in the full cycle.
nL + 1 = 3P
n =
(4)(2) +1 = 3P
8 + 1 = 3P
9 = 3P
3 = P
This means each pala will
be three matras given
that the layakari is 2! This makes sense though.
Look at the diagram. Using the tala notation, I
included blue numbers to indicate the matra numbers
through the layakari. This diagram will help you
analyze the layakari with respect to the actual matras and how the value of P =3 be evident.
Try to practice making tihais
using this formula.
TIHAI AND
THE TOD
The tihai is very
exhilarating during a tabla performance, whether the tabla player is being the accompanying artist or the
soloist. We discussed tihais in the scope of a
transition point in the middle of piece. We briefly talked about how to begin a
piece in the mukhra chapter. However, we never
discussed how to end a piece.
Any piece that ends the percussive role in music is
called a tod.
Tod means “breaking” in Hindi. The tod will give it a good finish to the tabla
performance. The tod could either be a mukhra or a tihai. Refer back to
the figure with Prabhupada tala.
See how the mukhra
retained its definition in serving as a cadence. This mukhra
worked out quite well, as the final bol has a strong baya bol resolving on the sam. You would never use the following mukhra
as it does not blend well and can often fool a listener or artist to make them
think that there is more to hear, when there isn’t. A tod
could be a mukhra, but not any mukhra
could be a good tod.
Tihais are wonderful for tods.
It gives a nice tension development and sudden release mood. Notice how the tintal progression had a nice powerful close with “ka ta tira dha”
repeated three times. Tihai’s definition of a pala repeating three times was retained here, as well as
the concept of the tihai resolving on the sam of the next cycle.
In order to create a good tod,
one will need to know how to make good mukhras and tihais. Due to the abstract and improvisational nature of the
mukhra and tihai, besides
the small amount of theoretical knowledge needed, it is quite difficult to
explain how to make tods. It comes from experience
and practice only.
Here is an example of an eight matra
tod. It is written out in sixteen beats to show how
the length of the beats.
1 
2 
3 
4 
5 
6 
7 
8 
9 
10 
11 
12 
13 
14 
15 
16 
dhin 
tā 
gha 
dhin 
tā 
gha 
dhin 
tā 
gha 
Figure 24.3
Here is an example of a six matra
tod.
1 

2 

3 

4 

5 

6 

dhin 
dhin 
Tā 
dhin 
dhin 
Tā 
dhin 
dhin 
Tā 
Figure 24.4
UPDATED: June 20, 2009