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last updated October 10, 2009
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Play composed jhala medium speed

The first step to playing jhala is to build your stamina and confidence by learning a composed jhala. Here is an example using Rag Yaman. Start off by establishing the basic jhala pattern and then practicing this exercise slowly at about 100 beats per minute.

Notation: Video (note this performance starts slightly differently and ends with chakradhar):

Once it is secure then gradually increase the speed to about 150 beats per minute. Do not rush this process - speed will come from accuracy, whereas an inaccurate fast practice will not get you very far.

Remember, for jhala we are looking for a clear sharp sound on the chikari strings with not much of the other strings - you should aim to strike the last chikari string - the chotte chikari - though in fact there will also be some sound from the other drone strings.


Play composed jhala faster

Practice the same composed jhala faster, gradually increasing the speed to about 220 beats per minute. As before concentrate on accuracy rather than speed - be patient if you practice steadily, you will eventually be able to get there.


Improvise short jhala passages

Start by making up short 4 note phrases which will fit with one cycle of tintal followed by resting on Sa (or another note) for a full cycle of tintal. Then improvise 8 note phrases (two cycles of tintal) followed by resting on a note. Once you are confident with this then develop longer phrases.

Improvise longer jhala passages at high speed

Use the same approach as in improvising on a subject to gradually develop the rag through your jhala. As with alap a good way to structure your jhala is to start improvising phrases round middle Sa and then explore the lower notes, then the middle octave, then the higher octave and finally return back to Sa.

Always think of your jhala as being a melody played on the baj string (which you should sing) accompanied by rhythmic paterns on the chikari strings.

At the same time speed up your jhala until ideally you can improvise a jhala at about 300 beats per minute. This requires considerable stamina and it is normal to start a little slower than this and gradually push the speed up to conclude at something like this very high speed, moving then into Chakradhar to conclude your performance.


Combine meend with simple jhala patterns

Combine your meend exercises with jhala patterns.

For example, sidhe meend:

Ulti meend:

Both meends together:

Once these have been mastered you should then practice playing the meend faster so that the change in pitch happens between the main baj strokes. This way you can achieve the full range of inflections and ornaments required. The essential point to master is that whatever the left hand does, the chikari strokes should continue undisturbed, rhythmically and in tal.


Play complex jhala patterns

First revise the different patterns of jhala strokes shown on the Playing strokes page under Play complex jhala patterns. To start with combine these patterns with palta or alenkar. For example:

Firstly using a simple alternating pattern:


Then practice the 3+3+2 pattern in two versions


Then practice the 3+3+3+3+2+2 pattern in two versions  

Combine these rhythmic patterns with improvisations to develop your confidence in playing them. It is a good idea to again practice saying the tal whilst playing these. If you are playing at speed you should abbreviate the tal to identifying the main beats.

Ultimately weave these patterns into improvisations combining normal jhala with off beat patterns such as the above, always coming back to the tal and the basic jhala pattern.