Friday, March 29, 2024

Hori - Semi classical form

Hori is another semi-classical genre closely associated with the festival of Holi, which celebrates the arrival of spring and the triumph of good over evil. Rooted in the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh, Hori depicts the playful and colorful aspects of Holi through its lively rhythms and energetic melodies. 

Like Chaiti and Thumri, Hori explores themes of love, romance, and celebration, but with a specific focus on the festive spirit of Holi and the playful interactions between Lord Krishna and Radha. Hori compositions often incorporate elements of folk music and dance, inviting participants to join in the joyous revelry of the festival.

Rural and traditional communities throughout India have evolved with their own regional customs and festivals, which are celebrated with Folk music unique to that community and region. It is almost impossible to identify all kinds of Folk music in India; however the most popular musical genre, sung during ‘Holi’, the festival of Colors is ‘Hori’

Hori is a semi-classical form of music and dance that is closely associated with the festival of Holi, which celebrates the arrival of spring and the victory of good over evil. It is primarily performed in the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh, the land of Lord Krishna's childhood. Hori songs typically depict the playful and colorful aspects of Holi, with lyrics that celebrate the joyous mood of the festival, the playful antics of Lord Krishna and Radha, and the splashing of colors. The music of Hori is characterized by its lively rhythms and energetic melodies, often accompanied by traditional instruments such as the tabla, harmonium, and flute.

Hori comes in the series of season songs, like Chaiti, Sawani and Kajari, and is traditionally sung in the villages and towns of Uttar Pradesh: around Banaras, Mirzapur, Mathura, Allahabad and the Bhojpur regions of Bihar. Songs of Hori are related to Radha-Krishna Leela in the festival of Holi.

“Holi khele raghubira Awadh mein” from the film “Baghban” and the hugely popular “Rang barse” are ulharas which have their roots in Awadh. In the film “Kati Patang”, the Holi song “Aaj na choddenge bas humjoli” has shades of Dhamar. This form begins with a slow tempo but as it progresses it becomes extremely fast. “Holi aayi re kanhai” from “Mother India” is a hori but interestingly has a kajri tune.

Shringar rasa dominates in the Hori compositions. There is a lot of chhed-chhaad. Though most of the songs are upbeat in nature, there are few based on viraha evoking the pathos of two separated lovers. In Mathura-Vrindavan, every hori revolves around Radha-Krishna and is called Raas. In Awadh region, one would find many compositions on Ram and his brothers playing Holi, for example “Awadh nagariya chhayi re bahariya, ke bhal rang khele hori chaaro bhaiyan”, whereas it is only in the Banaras tradition that one finds the mention of Lord Shankar and Parvati in the Hori compositions: “Krishna Murari sang Radhika khele parvat upar maja Shankarji le le aur Gaura ki bhijat chir ho”. 

Hori is a form which describes Holi played by Krishna, the lyrical content of Hori is similar to Dhamar and the musical form is allied to the Khayal form. The Raga commonly used for Hori or Khayal with descriptions of Holi is Kafi. 

Other than Raga kafi traditional Horis are also sung in many other ragas as Semi-classical compositions in ragas like Mishra kafi, Khamaj, Shahana kanhara, sarang, pilu and many mishra ragas. Significantly, horis are mostly set to a tala of 14 beats called Deepchandi and are also sung in teentaal (16 beats), Rupak (7beats), ektal (12beats) and jhaptaal (10beats). The famous Hori “Hori main kheloongi unsang dat ke, jo piya ayenge brij se palat ke”sung by Smt. Shobha Gurtu is an exquisite example of hori sung in thumri style in raga shahana kanhara set in a keherwa . At the conclusion of the hori, laggis are played on the tabla, which adds a bit of excitement after a spell of relaxed singing.

It is interesting to note that Raja Mansingh Tomar of Gwalior (1486-1516 AD) was the driving force behind introducing and consolidating Dhrupad and composing three volumes of songs namely Vishnupadas (songs in praise of lord Vishnu), Dhrupads, and Hori and Dhamar songs associated with Holi. Mansingh's support gave a place of pride to these genres in the society, thereby relating music to the lives and language of the laymen.

Colors of Holi Thumris

1)  A  beautiful descriptive Hori by the Banaras Gharana stalwart, Pta Siddheshwari Devi, based on Raga Kaafi, Deepchandi Taal, Udat Abeer Gulaal, Laali Chhaai Re

2) The same Hori Thumri, rendered by Pta Siddheshwari Devi’s daughter and disciple, Savita Devi. The style is similar, albeit their improvisations are very different.…

3) This is a common theme and here’s another very popular Hori by the Banaras Gharana stalwart, Pta Shobha Gurtu. It describes the ambiance of Holi, Aaj Biraj Mein Holi Re Rasiyaa.

4) Begum Akhtar’s famous Hori in raga Zila Kaafi , Kaisi Yeh Dhoom Machaayi, Kanhaiyya.

5) Hori by one of the stalwarts of the Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana, Surashree Kesarbai Kerkar’s elaboration in raga Khamaaj. Aaye Shyam Mose Khelan Holi

6) Begum Akhtar’s Hori Khelan Kaise Jaun based on Raga Piloo has Radha wondering to a friend if it would be appropriate for her to join the Holi with Krishna.

7) In Pta Shubha Mudgal’s Hori, Kanhaiya Ghar Chalo Mori Guiyaan, Radha tells her friend, let’s go to Krishna’s house to play Holi.

8) Pt Chhannulal Mishra of the Banaras Gharana sings Rang Daarungi Daarungi Nanda Ke Laalane Pe

The amazingly talented, Kaushiki Chakraborty, also has a beautiful rendition of this piece, on the same Raga but with a completely different flavor.

9) Pt Ajoy Chakraborty sings his guru, Pt Gyan Prakash Ghosh’s bilingual composition based on raga Khamaaj. Saari Daar Gaye Mo Pe Rang Ki Gaagar

10) The Pta Veena Sahasrabuddhe of the Gwalior Gharana has an electrifying Hori in raga Adana, Hori Hori Hori Khelat Nandalal.

11) Mewati Gharana’s Pt Sanjeev Abhyankar, possibly Pt Jasraj’s most famous disciple, sings another descriptive Hori based on Raga Tilang, Mohan Khelat Hori.

12) Ustaad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Sahib, a doyen of the Patiala Gharana was as brilliant with his Thumris including Hori Thumris as with his Khayals. Listen to his amazing meandering taans in this brilliant Hori in Raga Des, Hori Khelan Jaaun.

13) Pt Bhimsen Joshi of the Kirana Gharana is known to everyone with the slightest familiarity with Hindustani classical music. His Hori Khelat Nandakumar is based on Raga Kaafi.

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Sankalan by Meetkalakar Team

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