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 is the pattern of clapping. Each tal is characterised by a particular pattern and number of claps.
Matra is the beat. It may be subdivided if required.
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.
Avartan is the basic cycle.
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