How can the Jathi system act as a metaphor for individualism within a collective?

In this project I will demonstrate the Jathi system with me on the Santoor, a stringed instrument traditionally accompanying Sufi music in the valleys of Kashmir, and a humble metronome ticking away in the background. The Jathi system, emanating from a Vedic Sanskrit musical tradition, is essentially a rhythmic concept, where a beat is divided into microbeats. 

The way I view a beat is that it is singular in one moment of time. For me, this is similar to how we exist on this planet; we exist for a singular moment in time in this form, with this body, mind and matter. As Guru Nanak says ‘Ham Aadmi Han Ik Dami’ – That we are human beings for just a single breath. If we liken the pulse of the metronome to represent the breath of life, then the Jathi is our life experience, our perspectives, our lessons, our expression, our emotions – essentially our individualism. There are 5 main categories of Jathis – Tisra, Chautushra, Khand, Mishra and Sankiran.  Here, I explore the Jathi system and its rhythmic patterns, through anecdotes from my time as part of the Moon Arkestra on the Moon Convoy.

Sankiran – 9 in 1


9 ARKESTRA – As part of the Moon Arkestra, I ended up interacting, making connections and forming lifelong friendships with individuals who I would have never met otherwise. Aside from the fact that we were to share space together over the next month or so, there seemed to be nothing in common between us. Even our intention of being on this journey together was different, from those that wanted to get deep into music-making, to those that were still in discovery of what it was to express oneself. So when we were put together and met for the first time, literally a couple of hours before the convoy started in Bletchley, I had already begun to question if this was going to work.

Mishra – 7 in 1


DAY 7 – Grimsby was the first time on tour that we had a designated rehearsal space. After having learned many lessons in Leicester, we realised that we desperately needed time to explore our sounds in another space, away from the convoy stretch tent, as well as having dialogues and reflections about the first week we had spent together. We could all agree that the first week had been tough, both in how we were able to engage with each other and navigating our place on tour. We were all struggling to find meaning in our seemingly pointless venture; between figuring out how we were going to fill the time in the stretch tent that day and the whereabouts of the welfare van keys, we hadn’t had a chance to sit with our instruments and just play.

Grimsby was an opportunity to for us to address these issues in confidence and although heated words were exchanged at points, we all collectively ended up at the most profound and beautiful conclusion that would shape how the Arkestra functioned from that point onwards – that the Arkestra stage would be a microcosm of how we imagine the world stage: that our interactions should be such that no borders would need to exist; that we move in such flow with one another for the betterment and prosperity of us as a collective; and that everyone is heard and no one is overshadowed. We had decided in essence that the music-making was only a fraction of our journey together as a collective, and that deeper was our connection to each other as people.

Khand – 5 in 1


KHAND – Khand is an interesting word as it has multiple meanings in a range of South Asian Languages, like Punjabi and Urdu. One particular translation of Khand means to destroy or annihilate, usually pertaining to a specific philosophy or ideology. To do Khandan is to reject an idea or rather defeat an idea with an alternative perspective. A point to note is that with Khandan destruction is not ego led or in an effort to divide – on the contrary, the annihilation of an ideology or perspective in this context is in order to unite people, by acknowledging the divinity with each one of us and shattering any notion of duality.

The second leg of the Tour de Moon convoy was in Newcastle. As we were here for a number of days, it allowed us to get grounded and comfortable with our surroundings. We were able to get significant time to talk with one another and rehearsal spaces were available. On the penultimate day of Newcastle’s programmes, we had a beautiful session where we all shared music that had some personal connection with ourselves.

I decided to share a Quwalli sung by the great late Maulvi Haidar Hassan. He was singing a poem by Bedam Shah Warsi and the main line was ‘Daikh Le Shakal Meri Kis Ka Aiyna Hu Main?’ – which translates as ‘Look at my appearance, who’s reflection do you see?’ – a fitting tribute to our journey.

Chautushra – 4 in 1 


4 FINGERS – I thought I would share a small composition in Teental, which is a 16 beat cyclic structure. The way I would count this is by using the fingers on my right hand. With the right thumb, press on the tip of the right pinkie which signifies the first beat. Then for the next beat, press on the first joint of the pinkie. Using the tip, and the joints, each finger on the right hand can be split into 4 and so a whole hand can count up to 16 beats and repeat. Now using this technique, follow along with this simple Tabla composition.


Tishra – 3 in 1


3 PERSPECTIVES OF 7 – by Chris, Eeshar and Fraz – Supported by the Arkestra

This piece came as a result of a practice session between myself, Fraz and Chris in Southampton. We decided that we would produce this piece in 7 beats – I had been thinking about improvisation in 7’s for a while so I was musically hinting at this for a starting point from the offset. I decided to use the framework of x – x – x – – where x is a stroke (harder stroke on x) and – is a gap. From this we extended the rhythm to include two cycles and had a pattern of x – x – x – – x – x – x – – . Interestingly, where I had interpreted this rhythm to be a 9 beat followed by a 5 beat (GE NA DHA GE NA TIN NA KI NA, DHA – DHA TI TA), Fraz had viewed the whole rhythm by its emphasis: so where the first 7-beat pattern was 1 – 2 – 3 – – and the second pattern was 1 – 2 – 3 – – 1 – 2 – 3 – – .

With this in mind, we extended the rhythm pattern over 4 loops of 7, so that we could emphasise the 1,2,3 and have a break. It looked like this: 1 – 2 – 3 – – 1 – 2 – 3 – – 1 – 2 – 3 – – 1 – 2 – 3 – – . This for me was revolutionary in the way I perceived rhythm: I was always caught up in the minutia, looking at each separate microbeat, but stepping back and looking at the bigger picture made for a much richer approach to the music. 



The sum is an interesting part of my music. Within a cyclic rhythmic structure, the ‘Sum’ is the term to describe the first beat which comes round and round. This is usually where improvisation would seek to resolve itself. So the Sum is both the beginning and the end of a rhythmic cycle, by being the point of lift off and the point of landing. In between the Sum, there is a journey, a quest, a narrative to reach that point again through improvisation. 

I suppose that has been my experience of Tour de Moon. I set off from home, and now I’m back at home, but I have returned with experience, age, wisdom, inspiration, friendship, self discovery, enlightenment, passion, love, and memories.