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Lesson E 4: The Scientific Analysis of Lay
Just
like Lesson E 2, this lesson used to be taught after the Tisra
Jati talas. Just like the
Lesson E 2, this was too difficult for students to understand. If you want to
understand rhythmic cyles
The
word for tempo in rhythms is lay (pronounced
as it looks. In Bengali pronounced “lawy”). To
understand lay, we can make a theoretical model to make couple of important
points in allowing us to rhythms which are either faster or slower than medium
tempo.
This
examples uses tintal, the sixteen matra
cycle we learned in lesson 7.
Think of each concentric circle as lanes on a race
track. Assume that all of the competitors began on the line where Matra 1 (sam) is where all of
the runners begin. Once the signal goes, each racer runs on their respective
circle. Assuming that each runner runs at the same speed, the runner towards
the center (red) will complete the lap much faster than the outer (blue). The
reason for this is the red circle has a much smaller distance (i.e. smaller
circumference) compared to the blue circle (larger circumference).
On an interesting side note, this is the reason why
racetrack competitions with more than one lane have a certain limit on how many
lanes can fit. In addition, such tracks have each lane with their own starting
and finishing lines to ensure that the lane closer to the center has the same
lap distance as the lane farthest away from the center.
Let’s
take the above sentence and fill it with terms relevant to tala
and lay.
Think
of each concentric circle as lanes on a comparison of tempos (lays) of the tintal of sixteen matras.
Assume that all of the cycles shown began on the line where Matra 1 (sam). When one begins to play, each
cycle plays at their respective tempo. Assuming that each cycle plays at
the same speed, the lay towards the center (red) will complete the cycle
much faster than the outer (blue).
TYPES
OF TEMPOS
There
are seven recognized tempo speeds, however they are categorized into three
general tempo speeds. These tempo speeds or lays are called vilambit, madhya, and drut.
Vilambit Laya is the
slow tempo. This will take more time to finish one cycle. This is the outer
ring in blue of this diagram. The tala usually falls
in the range of 30 to 80 beats per minute. Since the distance between each matra is greatly increased, more bols
are introduced in the cycle. You will not be responsible for vilambit talas on this tutorial,
but just to get an appreciation of what a vilambit
cycle looks like, here is the vilambit cycle of tintal from the KKSongs Tabla Guide. You’ll see how the madhya
lay tempo has slowed down in speed and added more bols
to prevent offtempo of silence.
X 




1 
2 
3 
4 

dhā 
ge 
te 
dhin 
ge 
te 
dhin 
ge 
te 
dhā 
te 

2 




5 
6 
7 
8 

dhā 
ge 
te 
dhin 
ge 
te 
dhin 
ge 
te 
dhā 
te 

0 




9 
10 
11 
12 

dhā 
ke 
te 
tin 
ke 
te 
tin 
tin 
tā 

3 




13 
14 
15 
16 

nā 
ke 
ti 
ra 
ki 
ṭa 
dhin 
ge 
te 
dhin 
ge 
te 
dhā 
kre 
dhā 
dhā 
Madhya Laya is the medium tempo. It does not take too much time
to finish one cycle. Rates may vary. This is green, yellow rings on the
diagram. The range of madhya lay can fall from 90 to
roughly 150 or 200 beats per minute. Most of Unit 2 of this guide is in madhya lay.
Drut Laya is the
fast tempo. This will take less time to finish one cycle. This is the orange
and red rings in the diagram. They usually range from 200 to 350 or 400 beats
per minute. Since the tempo is faster, playing all of the bols
of the theka or prakar in
faster tempo may not practical, as there are too many bols
in too little time. Therefore, some bols are replaced
with more convenient ones, or many bols are taken out
to allow ease in playing.
You
are not responsible for the tintal drut lay, but here it is, just so you get an idea of what
it looks like.
X 



2 



0 



3 



1 
2 
3 
4 
5 
6 
7 
8 
9 
10 
11 
12 
13 
14 
15 
16 
dhā 
dhi 
dhir 
dhā 
dhā 
dhi 
dhir 
dhā 
dhā 
ra 
ti 
tā 
tā 
dhi 
dhir 
dhā 
PROPERTIES OF DIFFERENT LAYS:
Vilambit Laya:
Slow tempo
More time to finish one
cycle
Uses more bols to help keep time without loosing place
Madhya Laya:
Medium tempo
Time to complete a cycle
will vary
Uses a decent number of bols depending on the expertise of the player and the tala
Drut Laya:
Fast tempo
Less time to finish one
cycle
Uses the least amount of bols, or uses easier way to play the same sounds using
different bols, to allow ease in keep rhythm.
UPDATED:
August 2, 2010