I introduced the concept of Ālāp in a previous post, a free flowing development and exploration of the Rāga. However, the Ālāp actually consists of multiple stages. When the first stage of Ālāp is complete an entirely new dimension enters the equation – that of rhythm and pulse – which builds upon the accumulated energy of the performance and which gives the music a very obvious sense of progression and direction. Within the framework of a pulse the Rāga can be explored in new ways, just as a 3D sculpture can show things not possible in a 2D painting.
Here is a short clip of the medium (Jor) and fast tempo (Jhālā) sections of an Ālāp in Rāga Shuddha Sarang sung by Pt. Uday Bhawalkar.
Rhythm is intrinsic to life itself and we only experience time through a certain rhythm. The beat in music therefore pierces into our core experience as sentient beings. In these later stages of Ālāp, the singer is feeling the pulse and playing within its constraints. The singer toys with the myriad of ways in which we can divide time whilst conforming to the melodic prescription of the Rāga and reinforcing its form. The possibilities are endless!