TARANA - INDIAN VOCAL FORM

by David Courtney working tools


Tarana is based upon the use of meaningless syllables in a very fast rendition.  There is an interesting legend concerning its origin:

The story refers to a music competition during the time of Allaudin Khilji.  It had come down to two finalists; a Hindu by the name of Gopal Nayak, and a Muslim named Amir Khusru.  Gopal Nayak was well aware that he was up against a formidable opponent.  He therefore sang a very fast song in Sanskrit, knowing quite well that Amir Khusru did not know the language.  Amir Khusru then sang the same song, note for note, but substituting Persian words for the Sanskrit.  The resulting performance was thrilling even though it was unintelligible.  In this way Amir Khusru won the competition and invented tarana.

This legend is entertaining but highly unlikely.  It is likely that the transformation from intelligible Persian lyrics to the present unintelligible syllables took a long time.

Tarana is found all over India.  In south Indian music it is called tillana or thillana and is commonly used in dance performances.

 


 

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© 1998 - 2018 David and Chandrakantha Courtney

For comments, corrections, and suggestions, kindly contact David Courtney at david@chandrakantha.com