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Alap, Jor, Jhala for Tabla Solo:

Alap, Jor, and Jhala are for solo tabla and may also be realized as solo multiple percussion pieces. The titles come from the first, second, and third parts of the first half of a classical North Indian Hindustani instrumental raga performance. These pieces are fully written out, with no improvisation.

An Alap is a slow, stately exposition of a raga with no regular rhythmic pulse. Just as a melodic player will unfold a raga one note at a time, so does the tabla drummer gradually reveal the different tones of the drums. The tension and density of the phrases also gradually increases.

During the jor section, a steady pulse is gradually established and the melodic phrases associated with the given raga are gradually revealed. This idea has been translated to solo percussion by focusing on the left hand drum (baya) and exploring the beautiful pitch changes that are possible by sliding the hand across the drum and pressing into the head. The rhythms are precisely written out, but the feeling is one of rubato and freedom.

A jhala is a section in which the notes of a fast melodic passage alternate with a drone note. In this work, an analogue is drawn to a melodic jhala by using alternating, or hand to hand, strokes on the drums. Jhala should be played with abandon, the end barely controlled. Refinement becomes less important as the work progresses. The tension between what is comfortable and what is possible should be maximized.