The bola-banao thumari is not a pre-composed entity in the sense of having a stable poetic-melodic-rhythmic shell constituting the nucleus of the rendition. The song-text is stable, though the musician has the freedom to insert exclamatory expressions during rendition, almost at will. The same song-text has been found set to different raagas, and the same poetic-melodic shell has been found sung in different talas and at different tempi. The rendition of the mukhada, generally a four-beat phrase, is syllabic, and sustains a degree of correspondence with the beats of the rhythmic cycle. Other than this, the entire rendition is a free-flowing interaction between poetic, melodic, and rhythmic elements.
The bola-banao song texts are generally more compact than those of the Bandisa Thumri. The song-text is in two parts, described as sthayi and antara, more by convention than melodic logic. Unlike a bandisa thumri or a khayal composition, the two parts of a bola-banao thumri are not necessarily anchored in different regions of the melodic canvas. In a majority of the cases, the sthayi and antara are both located in the same region of the canvas, with one of them having a slightly broader span than the other. This feature exploits the psycho-acoustics of relative pitch for sharpening the emotional communication of the song-text. Such concentration of poetic and acoustic energies is appropriate in a genre that is explicitly sentimental in its character.
Division of Bola Banao Thumri
The format of rendition in bola-banao thumar follows broadly the following order. The rendition is preceded by a solo free-flowing alapa of upto two minutes outlining the melodic features of the raga. Thereafter, the sthayi begins with percussion accompaniment. After the sthayi has been rendered a couple of times, the bola-banao improvisations begin. The progress of the improvisations is systematic, though informal. They begin with the lower octave, and progress gradually upwards. When they have reached an appropriate point in the uttaranga, the antara is rendered. After the antara, there is a tabula solo interlude, called a laggi, which is always in the 8-beat kaherva or the 16-beat tinatala, irrespective of the tola in which the thumri is rendered. After the laggi, the rendition may either come to a close, or return to the thumri for further bola-banao, and further rounds of laggi interludes. Generally, all bola-banao renditions end with a laggi.
The stylistic nuances of the bola-banao process owe their character to the salons of the courtesans where the art evolved. In that context, the rendition was erotic allurement with the aim of obtaining the patronage of the wealthiest, handsomest, or otherwise most desirable members of genteel society.
The bola-banao process uses segments of the song-text as a platform for a luxuriant and leisurely melodic ornamentation, with the purpose of making the words come to life. The thuman genre tends to rely heavily on the hin, khataka and murkts type of ornamentations, including strings of murkts resembling the melodic mischief of the tappa, a genre inspired by the songs of camel drivers from India's north-western regions. Another typically thumri style idiom is the pukara, which generally leaps from the mid-octave region to the upper tonic, and descends summarily to its starting point. These modes of melodic execution are so intimately associated with the thumri genre, that their use in the khayalgenre has been considered inappropriate.
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