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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Brief description about TAAL


Tal, (variously transliterated as "tala", "taal" or "taala") is the Indian system of rhythm.  It has been argued that rhythm is fundamental to the creation of any musical system.  Certainly from a historic standpoint, rhythm existed many centuries before the word rag was ever used.  Given this historical preeminence, it is not surprising that rhythm occupies an important position in the Indian system of music.
The word tal.  Tal literally means "clap".  Today, the tabla has replaced the clap in the performance, but the term still reflects the origin.  The basic concepts of tal are: tali or bhari, khali, vibhag or (ang), matra , bol, theka, lay, sam and avartan.  We will now discuss these concepts.

Tali -

Tali is the pattern of clapping.  Each tal is characterized by a particular pattern and number of claps.

Khali -

Khali is the wave of the hands.  These have a characteristic relationship to the claps.

Vibhag (Ang) -

Vibhag is the measure.  Each clap or wave specifies a particular section or measure.  These measures may be of any number of beats, yet most commonly 2, 3, 4, or 5 beats are used.

Matra -

Matra is the beat.  It may be subdivided if required.

Bol -

Bol is the mnemonic system where each stroke of the drum has a syllable attached to it.  These syllables are known as bol.  It is common to consider the bol to be synonymous to the stroke itself.

Theka -

Theka is a conventionally established pattern of bols and vibhag (tali, khali) which define the tal.

Lay -

Laya is the tempo.  The tempo may be either slow (vilambit), medium (madhya), or fast (drut).  Additionally ultra-slow may be referred to as ati-vilambit or ultra-fast may be referred to as ati-drut.

Sam -

Sam is the biginning of the cycle.  The first beat of any cycle is usually stressed.

Avartan -

Avartan is the basic cycle.

Some popular Taal
adra tal is six or three beat tal which is extremely common in the the lighter forms of music.  It is is commonly found in qawwalis, film songs, bhajans, gazals, and folk music throughout India. The name is derived from its association with the dadra style of singing.  This is a semiclassical form that is somewhat similar to thumri.  The dadra style of singing in turn, derives its name from the place where it began.
There are a number of reasons for Dadra's extreme popularity.  One reason is the ease in performing in three and six beats; it is very symmetrical and posses no great challenge.  Another reason for it being so common lies in the Indian taxonomy of tals.  Virtually any tal of three, six, and 12-matras of folk origins, is routinely lumped under the title of Dadra.  Even though they may have no cultural connections, traditional Indian musicology considers them to be the same tal.  Therefore, the large number of musical tributaries contributes greatly to the variety of prakars, its popularity, and the geographical distribution of Dadra.
The "textbook case" is simple.  It is a six-beat tal that is divided into two vibhags of three matras each.  The first vibhag is clapped and the second vibhag iswaved.
Dadra may be played in a variety of tempos.  It may be heard anywhere from moderately slow to extremely fast speeds.  Only the extremely slow (vilambit) performances are conspicuously absent.

Clapping/ Waving Arrangement

clap, 2, 3, wave, 2, 3

Number of Beats



+ Da Dhin Na
0 Dha tin na


Kaherava may be considered to be the most popular tal in Northern India.  It is an eight-beat tal of the non-classical traditions.  It is widely used in folk music, filmi sangeet, qawwali, rabindra sangeet, and gazal.  It is not found in the classical traditions such as khayal, tarana, dhrupad, and dhammar.
The structure of kaherava is simple.  It is composed of two vibhags of four matras each.  The first vibhag is denoted by a clap, while the second vibhag is denoted by a wave of the hand.
The broad popularity of kaherava tal is a bit misleading.  Its popularity is skewed by the fact that the term kaherava is applied to a broad number of unrelated tals; therefore, virtually any four, eight, or sixteen matra tal of the non-classical traditions may be called kaherava.  It should be no surprise that there are countless prakars (variations).
The "official" theka is shown below:

Clapping/ Waving Arrangement

clap, 2, 3, 4, wave, 2, 3, 4

Number of Beats



+Dha Ge Na Ti 
0 Na k Dhi Na


Teental is without any doubt the most common tal in the north Indian classical system of music.  It is variously referred to as teental or trital.  These names all reflect the three claps of its vibhags structure.
The structure of teental is so amazingly symmetrical that it presents a very simple rhythmic structure against which a performance can be laid.  It is composed of four vibhags of four matras each.  These vibhags are represented by a clap, clap, wave, and a clap.
The structure of tintal is shown below:

Clapping/ Waving Arrangement

clap, 2, 3, 4, clap, 2, 3, 4, wave, 2, 3, 4, clap, 2, 3, 4

Number of Beats



+Dha Dhin Dhin Dha

+Dha Dhin Dhin Dha 

0 Dha Tin Tin Ta 

+Ta Din Dhin Dha


Rupak tal is a common seven beat tal in Northern India.
Rupak tal may be found in almost any musical style.  It is found in film songs, khayal, gazal, instrumental pieces; virtually any north Indian form.  The only forms where it is absent are the dhrupad and dhammar styles of singing; it is only absent in these styles because tivra tal serves the same function.
Rupak is unique among the tals in that the first beat ( i.e., the sam) is khali (i.e., represented by a wave of the hand).
The theka of rupak is uncomfortably similar to pashtu tal.  The only difference is that many musicians prefer to think of pashtu as consisting entirely of claps; while rupak tal begins with a wave of the hand.
The form of rupak is shown below:

Clapping/ Waving Arrangement

wave, 2, 3, clap, 2, clap, 2

Number of Beats



Theka for Rupak Tal


Jhaptal is the most common 10 beat tal in northern India.  It is composed of four vibhags of 2, 3, 2, and 3 matras.  These vibhagsclap, clap, wave, and clap respectively.  are denoted by Jhaptal shows up in a variety of classical and semiclassical settings.  It may be found in the khayal, tarana, bhajan, and Rabindra sangeet.

Clapping/ Waving Arrangement

Clap, 2, Clap, 2, 3, wave, 2, clap, 2, 3

Number of Beats



Theka for jhaptal


Ektal is a very popular tal.  It is is common in classical music such as the kheyal, and semiclassical forms such as Rabindra Sangeet.
The structure of ektal is simple.  It is 12 matras divided into of six vibhags of two matras each.  Its clapping arrangement is clap, wave, clap, wave, clap, clap.
It is most associated with the khayal style of singing.  A particular movement known as bada khayal or vilambit khayal is performed almost exclusively in very slow ektal.  However, ektal is also performed in fast khayal as well.
The name "ektal" literally means "one-clap".  How the name came is a mystery since it has four claps

Clapping/ Waving Arrangement

clap, 2, wave, 2, clap, 2, wave, 2, clap, 2, clap, 2

Number of Beats



Theka for ektal


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