Asian Music and Dance

Tappa Journeys

Over the last 40 or so years, British Indian classical music lovers have had the pleasure of hearing the great and the good.  But few artists have presented Tappa. Lovers of ‘pukka’ classical may continue to categorise Tappa as semi- or light-classical. But the talented Sasha or Shashwati Mandal Paul makes the genre appear so easy to perform and listen to, that the discerning listener will recognise that the music keeps to the raag structure and that she must have had a classical base.  

This CD confirms Tappa as a classical genre in its own right and secures its place as classical genre; no less. A signature of this genre is the staccato style and hence the potential appeal to the Western listener as well. Derek Roberts’ sensitive addition of a Western string arrangement does not detract from the original classical nature of the genre, leaving the listener to ponder if it will work for other classical genres as well.  In that respect, the CD is pushing the boundaries and is a trailblazer. 

The language of the lyrics is likely to be new to most people – even those on the sub-continent. I was fortunate to hear Shashwati Mandal Paul’s conversation at the 2008  Darbar Festival and learnt that the language is a mixture of idioms from around 150 years ago in the overlapping area at the boundaries of present-day Pakistan, Afghanistan and India.

What would a seasoned classical aficionado make of this?  The music is definitely enjoyable in its totality. The Western orchestration complements and retains the Indian classical element.  

The last track in Bhairavi seems to bring out the best of everything in the CD. I would have enjoyed raags other than the present selection of Khamaj and Kafi as they become a tad repetitive. One also feels that there is a limited range of tempos across the different tracks. On the whole, however, Ms Paul’s clean renditions of the taans leaves the listener wanting more of the intricacies, and it is a pleasure to have the CD as a part of one’s collection. 



Join the weekly Pulse newsletter and we will send you the latest news and articles straight to your inbox