Chandraveena Jam sessions with Pakhawaj

Posted on 11 August, 20203 min read

The beauty of Indian Classical music performances is that they are extempore and the music happens in the moment without premeditation. There are some portions of a performance which are composed and artists sometimes use reference notes for the lyrics of a composition. But a majority of the performance is actually improvised.

Here I am going to talk about improvisation and extempore music. What is improvisation? And how extempore is extempore?

An improvisation in an Indian Classical Music performance is a reflection of the artist’s ability to create imaginative, musical and rhythmic phrases, within the structure and the framework of the Raga and the Tala.

The notion of structure and framework of a Raga or a Tala is an important concept. This framework is composed of two aspects known as Lakshana (grammar or theory) and Lakshya (presentation or aesthetics). I will address these two aspects in a separate more detailed post. We undergo years of training to understand the framework governing the principles of Raga and Tala. We practice for hours everyday, trying out different ideas, musical phrases, variations in rhythmic patterns, etc. Some ideas work out, some do not. In the process, we make mistakes too, and they are equally important, for we learn as much from what not to do as from what to do.

Vocalists also need to be aware of Sahitya, or the words of a composition. While creating improvisations in musical and rhythmic phrases, its equally important to maintain the emotion and the meaning of the composition, and correct pronunciation.

All these aspects require regular and repeated practice. So what you hear in a performance is often a refined version of what goes on in the practice sessions. Many of the extempore ideas in a performance are ideas that have been tried and tested in practice sessions.

As we mature and understand our music better, as our technical capabilities improve, we are able to try out more and more ideas. Over time, the mind starts connecting the dots, so one develops the ability to execute an idea practiced in one Raga or Tala in an entirely different Raga or Tala. We are freed up to create extempore musical and rhythmic ideas in a performance, backed by our knowledge and years of practice.

Recordings of Jam Sessions

To let our listeners a peek into what goes on in a practice or a jam session, we are releasing a few new recordings. They were recorded while testing the recording setup or while trying out ideas. Take a look at what goes on in practice sessions. There may be unusual ideas being tried out, mistakes being made, etc.

Here is the list of sessions being released:

  • Raga Chandrakauns - Jod with Pakhawaj in a 4 beat rhythmic cycle and Jhala with Pakhawaj in a 16 beat rhythmic cycle.
  • Raga Bhairavi - Pallavi in a 7 beat Tala (Tivratala).
  • Raga Puriya Dhanashree - Trying out a Pallavi in a 9 beat Tala (Mattatala) and different rhythmic variations.
  • CD Quality Audio on Bandcamp - All these recordings are available in CD quality audio at Bandcamp.



Chandraveena - S Balachander

Pakhawaj - Dhaval Mistry


Sadharani Music Works -

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