INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: What is Alap 101 Pt. II


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What is Alap 101 Pt. II Dec 21, 2002 04:53 p.m.

On Alap by Ali Akbar Khan

You don�t jump and show the whole picture of the raga but first develop the mood of the raga which is going to come. It is like meditation. You don�t at once get into the meditation. You have to close your eyes, you calm down and stop thinking anything else, and concentrate maybe on one candlelight or your Guru�s picture or Guru mantra. Only after doing this for hours and hours, only then you enter the state of meditation, so that is the way. You go to lower Re after that � after lower Pa. Then you go to Ga. From Ga maybe through a touch of meend ,or maybe a little andolin, you show another note. At once you realize it is time to move to this note � maybe Ma. After touching Ma, you don�t go Ma, Ga, Re, Sa, but you touch Pa. And then all the way back to Re. It should never be Sa to Re, always Pa to Re if the raga allows, or Dha to Re or Ni to Re. Then you go up, ending with Sa. Stop there; come back and show the sum. Later, you repeat the whole thing on Pa, Dha, Ni, Sa. Then again you go to lower Re and lower Ga.

Even after doing all this, you have not opened the raga. Nobody knows clearly the raga you are going to play. Then you move from Ga to Re and then Re to lower Sa. The next step is important because it is the final approach where you have to show the raga. Up to that time, you are trying to get into the mood. Once you are in the mood, you can see the raga. It is like waiting and waiting to see someone you love. Only then, can you understand the value of patience. Otherwise, if you don�t go through that waiting, you don�t realize the full value of the moment when the raga shows itself. The raga is now seen in the lower and middle octaves; half in the lower and more than half in the middle.

Then following the same rules, you go up to Pa, to Dha and to middle Ni. Stop at the middle Ni. Don�t show your high Sa at all. The high Sa can be shown in the second part of the alap. Until now I have talked only about the first part, remember, there are fifteen parts. What happens is when you go to Ni, you want to touch the Sa. At that point you need to be very patient. To play alap, you need patience. Once you can play the right alap, you become a very beautiful person because you know patience. You don�t rush. You�re learning everything through music for your practical life. That is the way. Then, when you finally go to higher Sa, it should not be from Ni to Sa. It should be from the middle octave to higher Sa.

Now you are into the antara portion of alap. So always, according to the raga, you can start from Ma or from Pa and go on to higher Sa. Beyond that, you are allowed to move only up to the higher Ga and not more. Even Ga, only touch. You should finish your antara by showing higher Re and merely touching higher Ga and come back. The antara should not be long, only long enough to show the higher octave of the raga, and once that is shown, come back and give the sum at middle Sa. This completes the second part of alap. The third and fourth are called bhog and abhog or in these days sanchari and abhog.

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