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Chapter 09: Twelve Matra Cycles

 

 

When thinking of a “twelve beat cycle”, it is a bit of a difficult concept to grasp. However, it is easier thinking of it as two six beat cycles together. The twelve beat cycle is one of great importance in Indian music. There are two major cycles with twelve matras. However, only one cycle will be discussed in this chapter. The other important twelve matra cycle will be discussed in Chapter 28.

         

The most famous and important twelve matra tala is ektal. The word “ektal” means “one clap.” This is a misnomer, for ektal has four talis. The division is 2-2-2-2-2-2. There are six vibhags with two matras each. The sam, matra 5, matra 9, and matra 11 receives talis, while khali is denoted on matra 3 and matra 7. The jati of this tala is tisra jati. Twelve is a multiple of three, thus tisra. It is arguable that twelve is also a multiple of four to be of catastra jati. The jati is determined by the flow. If the twelve matra cycle flows as three sets of four matra packs, it is a catastra jati tala. However, if the cycle flows as four sets of threes or two sets of sixes,  It tends to be a three-multiple beat, therefore, of tisra jati.

 

Here is the theka of ektal.

X

 

0

 

2

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

dhin

dhin

dhā

ge

ti

ra

ki

ṭa

tun

0

 

3

 

4

 

7

8

9

10

11

12

ka

dhā

ge

ti

ra

ki

ṭa

dhin

 

Figure 9.1

AUDIO CLIP: Figure 9.1

 

There is no great variety known for ektal. This is the usual flow of the tala. This tala is one of the most deceptive talas. In normal tempo or “madhya laya”, this tala does not make too much “rhythmic sense.” In Chapter 15 and 19, this tala will make more rhythmic sense.

 

Another point about this tala is that there is great dispute on the divisions of this tala. Some will think of this as 4-4-4 division with three vibhags. They would classify this tala as a catastra jati tala. Some will look at this tala as 6-4-2, three vibhags, and talis on sam and matra 10, and khali on matra 7. The late tabla maestro, Ustad Allarakha had placed special emphasis on 4-4-2-2, with all talis, and no khalis. None of the beliefs are wrong. There are different ways of looking at this tala. Unit Three will deal with these types.

 

For now, follow the vibhag trend shown here. Practice this tala very well, as this is a very important tala, and will be required to understand concepts of future chapters.

UPDATED: June 20, 2009