Pt. Kumar Gandharva- The purpose behind a Tarana

Note- Tarana is a type of composition which generally does not carry any meaning. As per the trend goes, Taranas are sung in a fast tempo.  

Many times, it is seen that listeners as well as vocalists are not aware of purpose behind different types of compositions that are being sung. Ideally, everyone should do what Pt. Kumar Gandharva used to do- contemplation. I really like the way this maestro, Kumar Gandharva has put forward his original thoughts on different aspects of Indian Classical Music, Tarana not being an exception

I often used to wonder, why Tarana is sung in any particular Raga. It is made up of syllables which carry no meaning at all. What people generally think is, it is some kind of adventure in Classical Music. For casual listeners, Indian Classical Music is very slow, boring and monotonous. I know many of my friends whose interest levels suddenly boost up when any artist says that he will be performing a Tarana. Generally, Tarana is thought to be the athletic part of classical music, unfortunately, not only by casual listeners but even by the many of the most famous musicians.

Pt. Kumar Gandharva singing a Tarana Courtesy- FiIms Division (Hans Akela)
Pt. Kumar Gandharva singing a Tarana
Courtesy- FiIms Division (Hans Akela)

While listening to Tarana sung by different artists, I used to feel unsatisfied. The constant fight with rhythm and notes used to seem senseless. I remember a concert, where Pt. Mukul Shivputra had sung a Tarana in Bhairav Raga. It was an early morning concert organized on the birth anniversary of Pt. Kumar Gandharva in Pune. It was first time when I listened to a Tarana in Madhya Laya (medium tempo). Otherwise, it is always performed in Ati Drut Laya (Super fast tempo). I enjoyed that Tarana a lot. It had conveyed something- which was beyond words.

Still, I was looking from some statement or document written by some authority which explained why Tarana is sung or what is the purpose behind singing Tarana. They say, when you are searching for something seriously, you get it.  Last week, I had ordered for myself a copy of ‘Hans Akela’ , a documentary made on Pt. Kumar Gandharva. This documentary was directed by Jabbar Patel. Somewhere in this documentary, they have mentioned what thoughts he had about Tarana. As he says,

‘When singer sings everything, and still wants to say something more, something which he could not convey through the compositions sung, he sings Tarana- which has no meaning. ’

– Pt. Kumar Gandharva

 I found this explanation very relevant, authentic and having some experimental value. Pt. Kumar Gandharva has sung his Taranas in same way. They convey something which the words cannot.  

Related Articles-

Pt. Mukul Shivputra and laughing Pt. Kumar Gandharva


4 responses to “Pt. Kumar Gandharva- The purpose behind a Tarana”

  1. ramakrishna m shanbhag Avatar
    ramakrishna m shanbhag

    Mandar you have rightly observed Kumarji;s opinion on Tarana.This is the opinion of Sri Narayan Pandit 84 yrs now(Violinist Mumbai) one of kumarji’s closest associates for over 40 yrs (u can see him on Tanpura in Sarnath Video) now with me in Karnataka.He has composed lot of new compositions which stand along with kumarji’s and are very modern.He is the only living person who has understood Kumarj’s Gayaki and he can demonstrate.Kumarji himself had expressed “nobody understands my Gayaki than that of Narayan”You ask anybody of Kumarji;s family& friends.But most of them are away from him because Narayan pandit knows what they learnt from Kumarji and some of them merely encash Guru’s name for their gains but unable to present anything in Gayaki.Because I have studied listened everything of Kumarji and also people who use Kumarji;s name and sing.

  2. Amit Bararia Avatar

    Where can one buy a copy of Hans Akela? Thanks.

  3. Anupam Pandey Avatar
    Anupam Pandey

    Hello Sir, I’ve watched the documentary Hans Akela and have been searching for the first song that plays in the documentary “Iss Jag mein tum bin kaun…” can you please mention where could I find it? Or the Raga on which it is based? Was their any CD released of this song?!

    1. Mandar Karanjkar Avatar

      Hi Anupam!

      It is a composition in Raga Bhimpalasi. You can even find it on youtube if you search for Raga Bhimpalas by Pt. Kumar Gandharva. If you are unable to find, please let me know and I will share.

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