The tihai is a rhythmic device which uses a passage repeated three times. In most cases the last note of the tihai corresponds to the sam (first beat of the cycle). Although ending on the sam is common, tihais may begin anywhere.
The tihai does not have to end on sam. Ending on the sam is the most common but sometimes a vocalist uses it to end on the start of the sthai or antara. This flows very nicely back into the theme and allows the musician to reestablish it before moving into another passage.
Each phrase of the tihai is called a palla. Although three is the normal number sometimes each palla is itself a tihai. In which case there will actually be nine pallas; this form is called a chakradar tihai.
A tihai is sometimes very small, just a few notes. This form is often used as an ending for a section. For instance if one is singing a very long tan, then it is common to take a small phrase and repeat it thrice to come to a resolution.
A tihai is regularly used to end the entire piece. For such endings it is usually the sthai which is modified so that when played thrice it will end on the sam.
Tihais are not just for vocalists. There are also tabla tihais and instrumental tihais.
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