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Tihai and its types: Elaborate analysis
- Rajashree Oak

September 17, 2017

Tihai is a distinguished feature of all the Indian music forms. Vocal, instrumental and dance, all the forms have their own unique fashion to use tihai and thus tihai is given different treatment in every form of music.

Cultural and historic context
The number three and trio have special importance in the ancient Indian concepts. Many such trios or trinities are seen such as Triguna, Trimurti, Trilok etc. This importance of trinity is reflected in the concept of tihai. In addition to this, the concept of tihai is thought to be originated from the oral recitation tradition of Vedas called as Ved-pathan. In the oral tradition, without any written scripts, the last pada or the phrase of the line was repeated thrice to show the end of the line. This thrice repetition denotes the end of the current line as well as the beginning of the next line. Scholars consider this tradition as the source of the concept of tihai in music.

Tihai is repeating a rhythmic piece identically three times with equal interval in between the repetitions. In the context of dance, when a rhythmic pattern beginning from any matra of the taal cycle, is repeated three times with equal intervals to reach the sam, it is called as Tihai.

Thus, there are two conditions for tihai:
1. Three identical repetitions
2.. Equal time interval between these repetitions.
Any rhythmic pattern, paran, toda, kayada, baant etc. or any bandish as such is required to end with a tihai.

After years of painstaking riyaz, a highly skilled performer is so developed in his sense of laya and tala that he is able to fashion and execute perfect tihai on the spur of the moment in a performance. Tihai illustrating the beauty of the taal pattern enhances the musical experience of both the performer and the spectator.
When the complex rhythmic pattern travelling through the cycle of taal smoothly reaches the sam, then spectators relish the experience of climax. The identical three parts of tihai indicate the closing and hence the closing is not abrupt for the spectators. Already anticipating the end with tihai, they can relish the completion in a better manner.

Various types of tihai are performed in Kathak.

Types on the criteria of interval
These types are on the basis of the interval in the three parts of tihai.

Damdar Tihai:
If there is an interval of more than or equal to half matra between the three parts of tihai, then this is called Damdar Tihai.

Bedam Tihai:
When there is no interval in the three parts of tihai, as per the base laya of the same, it is called as Bedam Tihai.

Chakradar Tihai:
When tihai is repeated thrice to reach the sam, it is called as Chakradar Tihai. Hence, the pattern that is repeated thrice in tihai has 9 times recurrence here. Even in this, if there is no interval or dam between the repetitions of tihai, it is called as Bedam Chakradar Tihai. Performing such Bedam Chakradar Tihai is considered to be the criteria of rhythm expertise of a performer.

Ginti Tihai:
When in any tihai, the syllables of dance or tabla are replaced by counts, then this type is called Ginti Tihai. The special patterns of numbers such as ascending or descending, viz. 7-6-5-4-3-2-1, make the tihai interesting. In addition to this, the dancer explains the structure of Ginti by an effective padhant and then underlines the same by performing. Hence, Ginti never goes without an applause.

 (Composition: Pt. Mukundarj Deo)

Anagat Tihai:
When a tihai ends before the sam, but after the last matra of cycle, then it is called as Anagat Tihai. Anagat Tihai implies a tihai ending just before sam.

Ateet Tihai:
When the tihai skips the sam and ends after the sam, but before the second matra, this type is called as Ateet Tihai. Here is example of this type in ektaal.

Farmaish Chakradar Tihai:
As per the structure of any farmaish bandish, when tihai’s first dha of the first part falls on sam, and likely, the second dha of the second part and the third dha of the third part fall on sam to create a mathematically enchanting pattern, this is called as Farmaish Chakradar Tihai. Here follows an example of this type which is a Bedam Farmaish Chakradar Tihai in drut teental.

Kamali Tihai:
According to the pattern of Kamali, this tihai has triplets of dha’s. In this, the first part has the first dha of the first triplet of dha on sam, subsequently, the second part has the second dha of the second triplet of dha i.e. the fifth dha on sam and the third part has the third dha of the third triplet that is the ninth dha on sam. Here is an example of Kamali Tihai in drut teental.

Rajashree Oak is a Mumbai based Kathak exponent and blogger.

Very expertly but comprehensively explained. Thank you very much.
- Sanjay K Lal (May 17, 2021)

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