The Music Room | Rhythm Patterns & Musical Phrases

We’re pleased to present the third episode of our series, The Music Room: When East Meets West. To tie in with the world premiere of Ravi Shankar’s only opera Sukanya in May 2017, our ten-part mini-series aims to explore the dialogue between Classical Indian and Western music with the opera’s conductor David Murphy. So far, David has introduced key concepts of both traditions and how harmony and scale can differ in both. In episode three, David explores rhythm patterns and the structure of musical phrases in both traditions. Watch the third episode here .


Firstly, David Murphy explains how in Western classical music, notes are written down and grouped to form a phrase, annotating and deconstructing the score of Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s ninth symphony. He then demonstrates how the structure of the same phrases from the Ode to Joy would be rendered in Indian classical music. The notes would be grouped through a set of spoken syllables and hand gestures. This is the concept of Tala, the rhythmic cycles of Indian music. These syllables related to drum strokes have been used for countless generations to pass the incredibly rich rhythmic tradition of Indian music from guru to student.
Tabla virtuoso Raj Kumar Misra joins David Murphy to demonstrate the astounding variety of these cycles. He performs the popular 16-beat form known as Teen Taal using these syllables and hand gestures.


Check out the supplement to this video to see Raj Kumar Misra perform a piece on the tabla in this rhythm cycle here.


The Bagri Foundation is delighted to support Ravi Shankar’s Sukanya, which the Indian music legend envisioned before his passing in December 2012 as a groundbreaking piece exploring the common ground between the music, dance and theatrical traditions of India and the West. This innovative co-production between the Royal Opera House, London Philharmonic Orchestra and Curve will take open at Curve Theatre, Leicester on Friday 12 May 2017. For more information and to book your tickets visit: