History of Tappa
Tappa originated from the folk songs of the camel riders of Punjab state of India. It was developed as a form of classical music by Mian Ghulam Nabi Shori or Shori Mian, a court singer for Asaf-Ud-Dowlah, the Nawab of Awadh.
Composition of Tappa
Tappas are composed mainly in Thumri raagas, such as Bhairavi, Khamaja, Desa, Kafi, Jhinjhoti, Pilu, Barwa. They are generally set to 16-beat variants of the tinatala, such as addha, qawwali and sitarakhani. A few Tappas have also been composed in ekatala. Tappas are sung in medium tempo in ekatala as well as tinatala. The lyrics are mostly in Punjabi or Sindhi languages and centred on the tragic romance of Hir and Ranjha. This is an important part of the folklore of the Punjab region. Shorie Miya included general romantic themes, and also philosophical themes in his Tappas. His compositions are still popular among his followers.
Tappa lyrics are short, either two lines or two stanzas with two short lines each. Many Tappa songs also have a separate manjha section between the sthayi and the antara. A Tappa is generally associated with the poetic-melodic form as its basic material. Akara tanas and bola-banta or layakan which are of the Khayal variety are not found in the Tappa. Its bola-tanas are associated with the lyrics. The symmetry of Tappa taanas is typically expressed in overlapping ascending or descending waves of phrases. This symmetrical pattern may sometimes include shifts of svara density. The special feature of Tappa is the looped or bi-directional phrases used to build the melody. This feature is best exploited in highly malleable ragas like Bhairavl, and Kafi.
Although, the Tappa apparently relied on the bandisa thumari and the chota khayala for its format, it has, in turn, influenced the khayala genre by giving birth to a hybrid form, the tap-khayala. This form is normally rendered in the "classical" ragas, but has the distinct vivacity of the Tappa in its treatment of melody.
Artists who Popularised Tappa
The artists who popularised this style include Pt. Laxmanrao Pandit of Gwalior, Shanno Khurana, Pt. Manvalkar of Gwalior, Girija Devi of Benaras, Dr. Ishwarchandra R. Karkare of Gwalior, Smt. Malini Rajurkar, Shri Sharad Sathe, Manjiri Asnare Kelkar of Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana and Pandit Yashpaul of the Agra Gharana.