NrityaDhol- The concept

Looking at the strength of ghunghroo in Dance and Dhol in music, I came up with the concept of NrityaDhol. NrityaDhol is not a replacement of Dhol but an imagination of Dhol in the form of Ghunghroo. NrityaDhol, by combining movement vocabulary of Ghunghroo and sound vocabulary of dhol, translate rhythmic foot tapping of dance into Dhol music.

NrityaDhol incorporating very simple interface will produce treble sound when right leg is tapped and bass sound when left leg is tapped. This simple one to one relationship makes it more flexible and allow dancer/ musician to focus more on music composition. NrityaDhol ,like Ghunghroo, is a wearable instrument which gives more opportunity to dance and express unlike Dhol instrument. It  gives classical dancers an unique opportunity to combine Dhol music with Mudra (hand gestures), facial gestures of classical dances for narrative dace performances.

The exact sound and movement mapping at this level is very basic. It is not specific to any one form if Indian classical dance. It can be refined after experimenting basic mapping with dancers. To ensure simplicity and feasibility of the concept minimal sound and movement vocabularies are chosen. Current mapping does not include complete foot tapping movement vocabulary of all classical dances but incorporates basic ones.


Other Percussion Instruments for dance accompanying music in India

Percussion instruments are very important part of dance accompanying music. Majorly Indian drums like Tabla, Dhol, Dholak sets rhythm of the dance. There are also other instruments like Khanjari, Manjira, Khartal. Out of all these dhol is a very interesting instrument. It is very simple yet powerful to produce very intricate music. There are many dance forms which are just done solely on rhythm of dhol, for example bhangara, raas, garba, Dollu kunitha, Attan etc. It just uses two (Bass and treble) sounds to produce music.

Indian percussion instruments producing Music from Dance

Producing music from dance is not a new concept. There are music instruments like Ghunghroo and Dandiya in India which produces music from dance movements. These instruments uses mechanical techniques to produce sound out of specific dance moves. They generally have very limited sound vocabulary and produce dance accompanying rhythms.

Ghunghroos are musical anklet made up of metallic bells worn by Indian classical dancers. It translates footwork of dancers into rhythmic metallic sound. Pitch of any Ghunghroo’s sound depend on its metallic composition and size of bells. Ghunghroos generally accentuate the rhythm given by Indian drum like Tabla in dance accompanying music.

 Ghunghroo vadan is a pure musical performance evolved from Indian classical dance Kathak, where ghunghroo is main musical instrument.

Ghunghroo being a wearable instrument, performer not having anything to hold, gives more scope to dance and express.

Dandiya are another very popular instruments which are used in Ras dance in Gujarat to produce music with dance. Dandiya are basically two wooden or metalic sticks which hold by dancer and struck together while dancing. Dandiya still being hend held instrument restrict movement vocabulary while Ghunghroo gives more space choreograph dance.

Indian Classical Dances

Indian classical dances are group of dance forms which are rooted and evolved from theories of Natya Shastra. There mainly eight different dance forms.
Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Kuchipudi,Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Mohiniyattam, Odisso, Sattriya

A unique feature of Indian classical dances is the use of the Mudra or hand gestures by the artists as a short-hand sign language to narrate a story and to demonstrate certain concepts such as objects, weather, nature and emotion. Many classical dances include facial expressions as an integral part of the dance form. So these dances are falls into category of Nritya = Nritta +Natya.

What is Nritya? – in Indian Literature

Indian literature like Vedas and Natya Shastra are Indian treatises on performing arts. They distinguishes body movements or gesture  in performing arts into mainly three categories.

Nritta – pure dance movements (having characteristic of rhythm and phrases of music in movements)
Natya- drama (expressive movements depicting Bhava and Raas)
Nritya – combination of dramatic and dance movements

According to these treatises music have  elements like Raga and Taal which will be used to dance on. Generally Taal refers to the rhythm which sets repetitive temporal pattern.  Raaga is melodic pattern of selected musical notes. Taal is more associated with Nritta (pure dance movements) and Raag with Natya( expressive movements). They both combined creates Nritya which is expressive dance.

A Gestural Media Framework: Tools for expressive Gesture Recognition and Mapping in Rehearsal and Performance by Elena Jessop (MIT Media Labs Thesis Document)


I have found that strong, semantically-meaningful mappings between gesture and sound or visuals help create compelling performance interactions, especially when there is no tangible instrument for a performer to manipulate, as is the case in a dance performance.

As a choreographer developing movement on performers throughout a rehearsal process, I am aware of the need for flexible systems and modes of thought about gesture recognition that could be easily integrated into rehearsal.

Technology is best integrated into performance when it can support this variety and liveness, instead of fighting against it with predetermined, pre-timed events. Thus, I aim to create ways that technological media elements can be intimately linked to the expressivity and nuance of a performer’s live movement.

Cunningham’s Variations V…Cunningham’s 1999 work Biped..The work of the dance company Troika Ranch..developed the mapping software Isadora..“16 [R]evolutions,”..Yamaha’s Miburi system…Paradiso and Aylward’s Sensemble….Very Nervous System… Laetitia Sonami’s “Lady’s Glove,”…… Bodycoder System created by Marc Bokowiec and Julie Wilson-Bokowiec

In particular, Rowe distinguishes between two paradigms of interactive systems, the instrument paradigm and the player paradigm. In the instrument paradigm, the system serves as an “extended musical instrument,” where aspects of a human performance are analyzed and control a rich output that goes beyond the traditional response of an instrument but still feels like a solo performance. This  paradigm has been used in models such as Tod Machover’s Hyperinstruments, discussed in the next section, where a system observes elements of a live musician’s performance and uses those elements to shape its musical behavior in ways that are learnable, repeatable, and perfectible by the performer. In the player paradigm, the system serves as an “artificial player,” with its own musical behavior affected to various extents by the human performer.

Focusing more on interactive systems that are shaped by a performer’s movement, Marcelo Wanderly characterizes three different modes of physical and gestural interaction with music: digital instruments, sound installations, and dance-music interfaces. These interactions take place with varying levels of intentionality: digital instruments are played by performers specifically to produce music, sound installations are played by people who also serve as the audience members, and in dance-music interfaces dancers do not dance explicitly for the purpose of generating sound, but dance movements are interpreted to generate sound.


Some more PAPERS

Music and Gesture: Sensor Technologies in Interactive music and Theremin based Control Systems by Andrei Smirnov

Where is the beat in the brain? by John Iversen

A real time music synthesis Environment driven with biological signal

Music, motion and gesture in psychedelic trance music

Poumtchak Patterna and body movement