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barend

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Reply with quote  #1 
Here is a subject you don't read much about. Nor was is ever explained very well to me by my teachers in the past.

I know what a mohra is and know quite a few. I have no problem playing these but what I don't understand is the exact counting. Seems like every (sitar) player is playing it differently but also counts it a bit different. Most have 8 beat mohra's but I have also heard 12 beat mohra patterns.

For example some patterns that I was taught by two teachers:

ScSScNNcRcSc (then it gets vague)

ScSccNNRGcRcNcSc in Yaman (also the end is vague)

All tones are the same length. In the first example the R is after 8 beats but then it gets vague. In the second example the G is after 8 beats then it gets vague.

the questions:
1) how exactly do you count it? always in eight? or don't you count in fixed beats at all?
2) it seems to start with a fixed rhythm but then it gets 'blurry' in the end (?)
3) and how were you taught?
4) and also some players like RS play mohra many times in the alap (almost after each phrase). Some others play very few mohra's. What is the logic here?
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nicneufeld

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Reply with quote  #2 
I've been taught mohra on a relatively limited scale so I don't have a lot of knowledge on it. But there are a couple types of mohra I've been taught.

First is the mohra in the alaap...it has a pulse to it, but goes out of time again at the Re.
S c c S c c S\'N S\'N c R [slight delay] S

I reread your post just now and realize we're talking about a similar thing, how the pulse/beat gets blurry there at the end.

Then there is a fixed in time version that is often done in the jhalla:
| Scc Scc Sc Sc S\'N S\'N c- | Rccc Sccc Sccc Sccc |

This being done in my experience near the end of the jhalla, right before a final taan. It's hard to show rhythm, but I guess defining the atomic "beat" here, the second "measure" there would be the traditional Da chik chik chik cadence of jhalla, and we can call that 16 beats or one cycle of very fast tintal.

So the first measure is two sas with two chik, two sas with one chik, then two meended Nis that each take two "beats", and one chik that takes two beats. The N N chik gives the impression of slowing down in context of the mohra...then Rccc fires off and everything is back full steam. It doesn't actually slow down, just gives that effect I think because of the pacing of the chikari strikes.

I'm learning Imdadkhani style, btw. I'm sure everybody does it slightly different.

The alaap for the '68 Vilayat Khan Darbari (a recording most all of us seem to know pretty well) has a lot of these punctuating mohras, although I wouldn't say its anywhere near after every phrase.
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Bakersbites786

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Reply with quote  #3 
I use this ScSccNNcR23cS 23 is empty beats
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barend

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Reply with quote  #4 
Thanks for your input. What is still unclear to me is the counting. Is it counted as a four beat phrase?
In this example I divided the beats by lines: Sc/SS/cN/Nc/R
the R is the first beat of next phrase (or 5th beat)

What is unclear (also in many recordings) is what happens after the R. Do you have finish the mohra and make it 8 beats in total before starting the next phrase of alap, jor or jhala? Or is the R the starting point of the next phrase of alap?
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Bakersbites786

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Reply with quote  #5 
Not been playing sitar for long but I think if U use it as 13 pulses it works out fine using your own pattern .gap between last R is two pulses then chik Sa Sa being 13.
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barend

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Reply with quote  #6 
I am a bit surprised that not more people find this interesting. Sure anyone can memorize a mohra but to be able to improvise with it and make it your own you have to really understand what's going on.
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jaysitar22

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Reply with quote  #7 
The definition of mohra from "Dictionary of Hindustani Music", by Bimalkanta Roychaudhury.
In Instrumental or vocal alap, a particular composition to indicate the end of a vistar. (dashes are chicari)
Slow : S - - S - - - - - Ṇ Ṇ R - S - (15 beats)
Medium: S - - S - - Ṇ Ṇ R - S - (12 beats)
Fast: S - S - Ṇ Ṇ R - S (8 beats)

These beat groupings seem strange to. A mohra will depend on if the jor is in a fixed cycle, 4, 8 or whatever.
If the jor is in free time, then I don't think it would matter what mohra is used, as long as it is consistent.

Here is my theory on mohra,

Jor is in 3 basic stages (names taken from "Techniques of Sitar"),
barabari-ka-jor (vilambit) single speed, quarter notes
lari-ka-jor (madh) double speed, eigth notes
gamak-ka-jor (drut) quadruple speed, sixteenth notes
Jhala is also in quadruple speed
In performance, the stages are not cut and dry, and the jor is more blended, by speeding up gradually.

The mohra should be based on whatever cycle/tal the jhala is in, and the jor should also be in the same grouping as the jhala.
If the jhala is in 16 beats, Sccc Sccc Sccc Sccc, heres a mohra that is 2 cycles of the jhala speed for alap,
SccSccSc Ṇ- Ṇ- R- --, S (multiply each beat by 2 and you get 2 cycles of 16), I like shortening the mohra, by not playing the first half,
Ṇ- Ṇ- R- --, S I think the drawn out mohra in alap can become tedious, unless performance is in dhrupad style.

Barabari would be one note per matra, rests could also be used, along with syncopation/off beats, but the notes don't move fast, one is restricted to using quarter notes. The mohra here would still be Ṇ- Ṇ- R- --, S.

In Lari-jor, 8th notes can be used in conjunction with the quarter notes, to make more complex, and rhythmic lines.
So a phrase would have to end on Sa for the first half of the mohra to make it equal 16, S- -- Ṇ Ṇ R -, S

Gamak jor, the jor speed is in 16th notes, and gamak can be used, the mohra here is, S--- S--- S--- ṆṆR-, S.

It seems like there are aspects of playing techniques/terms that are not well defined. I wish there was a definitive textbook that describes the full format of a Raga, with all the archaic dhrupad elaboration techniques + musical examples, when ragas had to be performed for hours. Also, it would be useful to show the different Raga formats of the different Gharanas.

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barend

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Reply with quote  #8 
Thanks for your input!
But it is still not clear to me and even adds to the confusion. In my examples the NN falls on beat 7 and 7 and the R on the first beat. Making it an 8 beat mohra. Most (alap) mohras I know have that. But in your example the R is not the first beat but the S is the first beat.

The mohras from that dictionary seem also strange to me.
I think your are right in the last part that it is not that well defined. And maybe each player or gharana uses his own mohra patterns and also different counting (?).
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