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Chapter 10: Six Matra Cycles

 

Just as we started off the tala unit with sixteen matras, we went to its half counterpart, namely eight matras. After discovering eight matras, we went into twelve matras. Now, we are discovering its half counterpart, the six matra tala. There are many six matra talas. However, two will be discussed here. The six matra cycles have been very common with Western music. It has been known as the “waltz.” Western music tends to think of “waltz” as a 3/4 time rather. Since we looked at four beats as totally limited, a 6/8 time approach is very useful. However, the denominator simply adds confusion to the Indian musician. Since we talk of cycles rather than measures, the six beats per measure and eighth note equating to one beat is an absurd concept to the Indian musician.

 

Since six is a multiple of three, all six matra talas are of tisra jati.

 

DADRA TALA

 

Dadra tala is one of the most common talas in Indian music. Whether its bhajans, kirtanas, semi classical or folk music, dadra tala is also. Please do not confuse dadra tala with a singing style called dadra. Dadra singing style does not always use dadra tala.

 

Dadra tala is divided evenly as 3-3, with sam receiving tali and khali on matra 4. Here is the theka. This is often known as the “thumri style.”

X

 

 

0

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

dhā

dhin

dhā

tin

 

Figure 10.1

AUDIO CLIP: Figure 10.1

 

This is a very clean and fairly symmetrical tala. Symmetrical tala means that both halves of the tala are fairly symmetrical. Most likely they will not be purely symmetrical. Even though the baya use may there or not, the structure is fairly symmetrical. So far, almost every tala presented so far, with the exception for Prabhupada tala and ektal (for now), has this feature. An easier way to determine if a tala is symmetric is if the divisions are even. For instance, dadra tala has divisions of 3-3. If you cut the divisions in half, you have 3 on both halves. Thus dadra tala is symmetric, even though the bols are not exactly symmetric.

 

A common prakar of dadra tala is used more than the theka. This form is very common.

X

 

 

0

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

dhā

dhā

dhin

dhin

dhin

dhin

 

Figure 10.2

 

Even within this particular prakar, there are more prakars based on this very one. For instance, instead of dividing sam and matra 4 into half matras, it is a possibly to have simply “dhā” and “” with one matra for sam and matra 4 respectively. Another possibility is to split matras 2 and 5 into two half matras, and use the swooping technique on the baya, represented by the dash (-).

 

KHEMTA TALA

 

Khemta tala is a very popular folk tala. Some do not consider this as an independent tala, as its form is very close to dadra tala. In fact, some even consider this to be a prakar of dadra tala. Some musicians will notice that the baya movements are much different than that of dadra tala. The division of 3-3, tali and khali markings are the same as dadra tala.

X

 

 

0

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

dhin

dhin

tin

ka

 

Figure 10.3

AUDIO CLIP Figure 10.3

 

This tala is used very frequently in garba dances. This tala has also been known as “garba rasa tala” as loosely translated as “The Garba Groove.” There is a form that resembles this tala shown later in Chapter 21.

 

Of course, like dadra tala, there are so many possible prakars that could be created. One great possibility is to split matras 3 and 6 into half matras and fill matras 3B and 6B with “ka” and “gha” respectively.

 

As we approach the conclusion of this chapter, practice these talas to memory. These talas might not appear in classical compositions, but you will see them virtually everywhere. Since tisra and catastra jati talas are very familiar to the human hear, we will approach slightly more difficult khanda and misra jati talas in the next few chapters.

UPDATED: June 20, 2009