09 September 2014

The Melody of Yakshagana Rhythms

I am reposting an important insight I had and wrote in this blog several years ago (I have made edits to reflect improved understanding).
Rhythms are the most prominent part of Yakshagana. Yakshagana rhythms are similar to Karnataka Sangeetha rhythms but have their own identity. There are more fillers in between the beats when played with Chande. These filling beats render Taals almost unrecognisable. The complexity of Yakshagana rhythms is different compared elsewhere. If Yakshagana were to improve sophistication by caring more about Chande's (drum) ability to produce distinct sounds, complexity will have to come down. It is this complexity (and powerful beats) that makes Yakshagana popular. Contrary to the belief that more complex the rhythm becomes, people tend not to understand and follow, complexity makes the rhythm melodic. When the beats get close enough, a melody emerges and people easily follow the melody. The melody of rhythms buries the complexity and makes it sound simple. In any case Maddale (mrudanga) is played without more distinct rhythm syllables. Sophistication in the tatkara (bols) is lost in performance. When Maddale and Chande drums match well the melody of rhythms is hard to miss. For this melody to clearly emerge the players have to closely match the rhythm of the syllables of pada (song) or the mattu.

Best things they say are simple. But I think best things do depend on complexity but abstracted away in creating simply the best!