Text size
  • Small
  • Medium
  • Large
  • Standard
  • Blue text on blue
  • High contrast (Yellow text on black)
  • Blue text on beige

    Ragatime: Glimpses of Akbar’s Court at Fatehpur Sikri

    Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA 2017)

    London, UK, 11 - 13 July 2017


    Terry Trickett



    ‘Ragatime’ is a piece of Visual Music in the form of a raga that recreates the sights and sounds of Akbar’s Court at Fatehpur Sikri. As the centre of the Mughal Empire for a brief period in the 16th century, Fatehpur Sikri was remarkable for its architecture, art and music. Akbar’s favourite musician, Mian Tansen, was responsible for developing a genre of Hindustani classical music known as dhrupad; it’s the principles of this genre that I’ve encapsulated in my own interpretation of Raga Bilaskhani Todi. Ragatime starts with a free flowing alap which, as tradition dictates, sets the rasa (emotion or sentiment) of the piece. The following section, gat, is announced by rhythmic drumming which signals the soloist to begin an extended improvisation on the Raga’s defined note pattern. It is the subtle differences in the order of notes, an omission of a dissonant note, an emphasis on a particular note, the slide from one note to another, and the use of microtones together with other subtleties, that demarcate one raga from another. To Western ears, raga is a musical form that remains ambiguous and elusive; only a declared master of the art, or guru, can breathe life into each raga as he or she unfolds and expands it. Similarly, a raga’s tala, or rhythm, requires a freedom of expression that embraces the ‘rhythm of the universe as personified by Shiva, Lord of the Dance’. It’s a tradition that goes back 2000 years or more when ragas were an integral part of Vedic ceremonies in Hindu temples. For a short time, Fatehpur Sikri was the setting for Akbar’s inspired patronage of the arts; it was a place where music and raga performance flourished. Tansen’s fame lives on; even for present day raga performers, his compositions are regarded as being as relevant now as when they were first performed at Akbar’s court.


    PDF Icon PDF Version of this Paper 2,320(kb)