INTRODUCTION + POETRY + MUSIC + ESSAYS + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART + HAAG'S BIO
Tukra means "little piece." The Tukra that inspired this set of tabla covers was the first tabla composition I learned to play well enough to enjoy practicing. It also initiated a new direction in my "musical" needlepoints. For the first time I stitched the bols in Sanskrit.
As I worked with the Sanskrit syllables (in Devanagari), many questions about the complexity of the bols were answered i.e. the similarity of the form of the dha and dhin as syllables (the former struck -- for the theka -- on kinar and the latter struck on sur) is like their similarity as tabla strokes; the differentiation between dhin (played on sur) and din (played on gaab) -- is represented as entirely different syllables; etc. Thus, the subtlety of differentiation in the pronunciation of Sanskrit, accurately rendered in Devanagari (but not in transliterated English), is reflected in the drum bols.
On the Baya cover, the light blue bols in six vertical lines read top to bottom, left to right:
ta ki ka ta ta ta ki te | | | | te dha te | | | ta | | | | | ki dha te ki ki ki te | | te te te din ghe dha dha dha | ge | | | din din ti ti ti | | | | | din dha dha dha | | | din |
Note the underlying grid of the pattern on the white canvas as I began to add in the bols at the left. This is a purely decorative way to present the bols. As musical notation, whether in transliterated English or in Sanskrit, the bols are written across the page from left to right as presented on the tabla (daya) cover (above) in bright red.
The 65th beat (the last "dha," being "sam" - pronounced sum) becomes the first and (usually) accented beat of the theka.
Behind the light blue bols on the baya cover, each square (beat) is colored-coded. Strokes on the tabla have red backgrounds; those on the baya have blue backgrounds. Those on both tabla and baya have mixed blue and red backgrounds. On the baya cover, behind the Tukra, the deeper background shows the theka in slow Tintal, also in Devanagari, though here the syllables are almost obscured by the over-laying Tukra. Reading horizontally, left to right, each cluster of four squares equals one beat, eight beats to two lines of squares.
Musing about my choice of blue for the left hand drum strokes and red for the right hand drum strokes (the colors were chosen partly because of my long-standing love of Oriental rugs), I asked myself why the choice seemed to have another level of nevitability -- especially for compositions in Tintal, the most common rhythm cycle in North Indian Classical music. Tintal's universal appeal is traditionally ascribed to the fact that it echos the beat of the human heart. Thus, the color choices were, it seemed, all but preordained: the red, arterial, blood, vigorous, oxygenated, lively, young (like the usually faster, brighter sounds of the treble, right-hand tabla) rushes from the heart; the blue venouss, de-oxygenated, mellowed, modulated, experienced, wiser blood (like the deeper sounds of the bass baya) flows back to the heart. The colors suit the different moods of the two drums.
This "little piece" was stitched in Marin County. The baya cover was finished on the night of the full moon of Monday, January 8, 1996.
The Tabla cover was done in a record nineteen days, mostly on a trip to Seattle where I met with Bill Rathbun, Curator of Asian Art at the Seattle Asian Art Museum and Sheba Burney-Jones regarding my forthcoming exhibit. I was in a great hurry to finish the tabla covers as I had a vision of the Mukhra/Tukra/Chakradar. I wanted to start and get far enough along to hang as a work-in-progress (as a demonstration of how I improvise my designs) for the exhibit. It was to be the largest piece I have yet attempted.
Also, the color decisions on the tabla cover became so complicated, I had do it "all in a breath," so to speak. And I was impatient to know what it would look like, as it was my first experiment with rayon yarn, its beautiful shimmer, its brilliant color. The background on the tabla cover is "fast Tintal" -- i.e. done as one square per beat. The vibrant, multi-layered patterns, with the red rayon for the bols themselves, turned out more beautiful than I could have "planned." The outer-most borders on both the baya and the tabla covers are in fast Tintal, one rectangle per beat.
In their improvisational aspect, the needlepoints become more and more
like Indian music. Strict rules are followed, but within these rules
unexpected "creations" happen. Swapanji says that after a concert he
often does not know exactly what he has played. Once he is inspired, the
music, in a sense, creates itself.
Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: email@example.com
II The Unicorn
III Green Pillow
VI Chinese Chair Pillow
VII Great Grandmother's Legacy
VIII Octagonal Beanbag
IX Flora and Fauna Beanbag
X Asian Diary #1, Kundalini
XI Asian Diary #2
XII Tibetan Yantra Beanbag
XIV Eye of Horus Amulet
XV Erika Sachet
THE FOLLOWING NEEDLEPOINTS ARE BASED ON THE RHYTHMS AND MELODY OF
NORTH INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSIC
IXX Tintal Coin Purse
XX Kaida, Tabla Covers
XXI Tukra, Tabla Covers
XXIII The Ten Thats