Tappa — gift to Punjab’s classical music

Punjab Ki Classiqui Mausiqui 

Ko Ata - Tappa

By Ustad Badaruz Zaman

Idara Farogh-e-Fun-e-Mausiqui,
Lahore; Pp 176; Rs 1,000

Tappa has been a form of folk music as well as classical music, to enter into details of, which Ustad Badaruz Zaman had come out with his seventh book on music titled Punjab Ki Classiqui Mausiqui Ko Ata - Tappa published by Idara Farogh-e-Fun-e-Mausiqui, Lahore in 2015. The other books on music by this organisation are three volumes of the famous books Ma'aruful Naghmaat by Nawab Ali Khan and Tuhfatul Hind by Mirza Muhammad Ibn Fakhruddin Muhammad. The book under review has been dedicated to Haji Faiz Ali, Badar's teacher. Tappa as sung in festivities has one line that expresses romance rather loudly by the lover. Without any relevance to the text, a word is added as Qafia before the line of tappa, explains late Aizaz Ahmad Aazar in his submission 'Apas Ki Baat' in the beginning of the book under review. About tappa being a form of classical music, Wikipedia says "Its specialty is its rolling pace based on fast, subtle and knotty constructions. Its tunes are melodious, sweet and depict emotional outbursts of a lover. Tappa was originated from the folk songs of camel riders of Punjab and it was refined and introduced to the imperial court of the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah."

Ustad Badar says that Tappa starts at the point when practice for Kheyal form of classical music is at its peak. Singing Tappa is difficult and in order to justify its rendering, it needs untiring, broad ranged, flexible, fast, crisp, unbreakable and tuneful vocals. Besides it, the singer has to have control over tunefulness and rhythm. Tappa singing does not require straight taans, gidda, gamak or dhamaka. It entails use of Khada, Murkis, Khatke, Jhatke, Phande, Baldar and intricate Tans. The contribution of Ustad Badar needs appreciation as he has researched on Tappa as a form of classical music when one can locate some work on Tappa in the forms of folk songs and poetry. Thus he has filled the void.

Tappa's origin is from Punjab and it attracted the centre of Urdu language Lucknow where singers, Nawabs and poets got impressed with its Punjabi language and expressions. This reviewer has written in his forthcoming book 'Melody Singers - 1' that some of the great Punjabi films before Pakistan came into being were made in Calcutta, the center of Bengali culture. Badar says that many poets and maestros of music like Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, Humdum, Sarshaar, Afsos Piya, and many others chose to express Urdu-Punjabi mixture of poetry and music through Tappa. This experimentation was liked generally. Ustad Badar has included some of the Tappa by these maestros in his book. He has given Thumris in Punjabi language separately. For example Punjabi Thumri in Raag Jangla is 'Mujhe Rehnda Tere Kheyal Wei/Mun Maanda Behlaaein, Chin Pal'. Incidentally Thumri's precise origins are not very clear until the fifteenth century. Etymologically, the word Thumri comes from Thumka. In other words it means a nimble beat of the foot or walking with a dancing pace. Generally speaking Thumri means singing and dancing for alluring the beloved.Then Thumr? rose to prominence during the nineteenth century in the Lucknow court of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. At that time, it was a song sung by courtesans, accompanied by dancers. Ustad Badar has also given lyrics of Urdu-Punjabi mixture in Thumris.

In classical music, the singing from upper body in the three octaves was introduced in Kheyal format by Nemat Khan Sadarang's nephew and son in law Feroze Khan Adarang. Still the dominance of Dhurpad form overshadowed this innovation. Mian Ghulam Nabi Shori came to rescue who was the innovator of Tappa form of singing. He introduced Tappa-Kheyal Bandishes also. Ustad Badar has gone into the details of discussing the lives and works of some of the classical singers specializing in Tappa form of singing. The names are Mian Taj Khan, Mian Ghulam Rasul, Mian Ghulam Nabi Shori, Vidya Dhari Devi, Sudeshwari Devi, Rasulan Bai, Girja Devi, Nidhu Gupta and Qadar Piya. He has given the hereditary family of Nawabs of Awwadh and details of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah in separate chapters (Pages 115-130). Nawab Wajid was one of the Kings besides Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir who did not bend before the British influence. Nawab Wajid was the last of the custodians of Lucknow. Ustad Badar uz Zaman quotes Raja Durga Parshad Sandelvi that none other in the history rose to the stature and excellence of promoting various forms of art like Nawab Wajid Ali Shah did.

In the last chapter of the book under review, Ustad Badar few Bandishes of Tappa format like in Raag Khamaj changed to present name by Pandit Bhaat Khande. It is Khadu Sampuran Raag; means six notes in ascend and seven in decent.

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