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by David Courtney working tools

The matra is the "beat" in Indian music.  Along with the vibhag (measure) and the avartan (cycle), it is one of the three levels of structure for Indian rhythm (tal).

The beats may have a different significance depending on where they come in the cycle.  Beats that occur at the beginning of any measure (vibhag) are always more significant then the beats which occur midway in a measure.  The first beat of the cycle (avartan) is the most important beat of all.  It is called sam.

Indian music does not flow in metronome time; therefore the value of the beats may be stretched or contracted depending on numerous factors.  This is easily demonstrated, but surprisingly enough is not acknowledged in traditional theory.  One must understand the music thoroughly to know when such liberties are appropriate.



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