Recently, Dilzafer has been dedicating his time and efforts to research in the field of Hindustani Classical ethnomusicology, with a particular interest in the interplay between rhythm and melody across various musical traditions. His intention is to expand his own understanding and shed light on the distinct nuances that make Hindustani Classical Music unique and mesmerizing.
Coming soon: "Rhythm in Khayal Form" by Dilzafer Singh explores the complexity and uniqueness of the Hindustani classical music (HCM) tradition, particularly focusing on the relationship and asymmetries between rhythm (as exemplified by taal) and melody (as exemplified by raga).
In contrast to other musical traditions, in HCM, rhythm and melody hold almost equal freedom in terms of improvisation. However, their relative positions are dependent on each other, facilitated by two distinct beat cycles that don't always align. This produces an "asymmetry," but despite this, both rhythm and melody manage to maintain a creative balance.
Singh also highlights the constraints found in musical traditions like Jazz, where the drummer's role of holding a beat limits improvisational freedom, unlike in HCM where rhythm is created by membranophones of mridangam descent. These instruments have unique features like the ability to be tuned to the key or changing "Sa" note of the melodic instrument, leading to a richer musical interaction.
Singh introduces the concept of taal, a repeated rhythmic structure in HCM. Taal provides essential information to the melody, such as the number of beats in a cycle, tempo, meter, location of full beats and empty beats, and where to place emphasis, usually on the sam (the first beat of the rhythmic cycle).
The paper further delves into the concept of "musical misalignments," proposing two terms: "inherent asymmetry" and "emphatic asymmetry." Singh exemplifies this with the "teentaal," a 16-beat cycle common in khayal, a dominant form of HCM. Here, the first beat of the rhythmic cycle usually aligns with the ninth beat of the melodic cycle, forcing the melody to inherently be eight beats behind the rhythmic sam. This is termed as "inherent misalignment."
Singh's paper illuminates how the complexities and nuances of HCM allow for unique improvisational freedom while maintaining a sense of rhythmic and melodic balance, even amidst misalignments. It underscores the importance of a comparative approach to understanding global musical traditions to reveal the distinctiveness of HCM.

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