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Chapter 14: Review of Talas

 

We have reached the end of the second unit of this guide. This would be the end of a typical second year of a tabla syllabus, in my standards. I have seen some teachers, after going over the bols, that begin teaching one tala, all of the important cyclic and cadence forms, and more varieties. Usually, the first tala is tintal and the student studies one to even two about all the details of tintala. I realize that every aspiring tabla student has different requirements. For instance, if one wanted to be performing in a band or a group of musicians for music that is not really classical based, knowledge of the most common talas would be necessary. Few of the forms that are discussed in unit four will also be quite relevant. Those who wish to accompany classical musicians would consider going through the whole four units. Those who wish to become a maestro at tabla would finish the whole program. Thus, to understand the different needs of the students, I have introduced a gallery of talas. Here are some important words of wisdom in tala science.

 

TALA SCIENCE REVIEW NOTES:

 

- Tala is a rhythmic cycle of a repeating number of matras, or beats (simple unit of time measure).

- It can be divided into “measures” called vibhags. They do not have to be equal in the unit of length.

- Accented matras are called tali shown by an X or number, wihle deaccented ones are the khalis, shown as a 0.

 

Keep in mind about the circular diagram in Chapter 6 on the tala as a circular function.

 

Talas are categories, or jatis, by flow and number of beats:

-         tisra – 3 beats;

-         catastra – 4 beats;

-         khanda – 5 beats;

-         misra – 7 beats;

-         sankirna – 9 beats;

 

From Chapter 7:

The main form of a tala using tabla bols is called the theka. They are relatively simple in structure. Forms or improvisation of the theka is called the prakar.

 

THE GALLERY OF TALAS

 

From Chapter 7, here are the thekas for tintal and sitarkhani tala. Review not only the thekas, but the tala structure (vibhags, tali, khali, etc.).

 

This chapter we also discussed the notion of a symmetrical tala. The symmetrical tala means that if you cut the tala in half, you will have two equal halves with similar bol structure, even though there will be a difference in the usage of the baya. Of the talas we studied, tintal, sitarkhani, adha tintal, some variations of kaherva (please see Chapter 8), bhajani tala, dadra tala, khemta tala, dipachandi tala, and jhaptala are examples of symmetrical talas.

 

The first talas discussed were the sixteen matra talas. The first is tintal.

 

X

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

dhā

dhin

dhin

dhā

dhā

dhin

dhin

dhā

dhā

tin

tin

dhin

dhin

dhā

 

Figure 14.1

AUDIO CLIP: Figure 14.1

 

A very similar tala to tintal is sitarkhani, which also has sixteen beats.

X

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

dhā

ge

dhin

ge

dhā

dhā

ge

dhin

ge

dhā

0

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

dhā

ke

tin

ke

ge

dhin

ge

dhā

 

AUDIO CLIP: Figure 14.2

Figure 14.2

 

A good transition to Chapter 8 with eight beat matras was Adha Tintal.

X

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

dhā

dhin

dhin

dhin

dhin

 

Figure 14.3

 

In chapter 8, we discussed a plethora of talas using eight matras. Eight matras is so popular that it is virtually used in all forms of Indian music. Hence, there are tons of prakars of kaherva. Please refer to chapter 8 for these. This is the theka of kaherva tala.

X

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

dhā

ge

tin

ga

dhin

 

Figure 14.4

AUDIO CLIP: Figure 14.4

 

In addition, bhajani theka or bhajani tala is another form of the eight matras, even though it slightly differs from the kaherva structure.

 

X

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

dhin

dhin

dhin

tin

tin

tin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Figure 14.5

AUDIO CLIP: Figure 14.5

 

The only tala from this chapter that did not use a symmetrical form is the Prabhupada tala. Here is the structure.

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

6

 

7

 

8

 

dha

ti

ra

ki

ṭa

ti

ra

ki

ṭa

ka

ti

ra

ki

ṭa

dhā

dhin

dhā

dhin

dhā

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 14.6

 

After studying the eight matra talas, we discussed in the world of the twelve matras. The key tala that was discussed in this chapter was ektal. Recall how ektal had controversial issues on divisions. This also led to a difference in how to view the jati. We viewed it as a tisra jati, being four sets of three, rather than three sets of four.

 

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 14.7

AUDIO CLIP: Figure 14.7

 

Its sub-component dealt with the six matra talas, namely dadra and khemta. Both symmetrical, the talaa have the same divisions, although slightly different thekas. Here are the thekas for both.

 

This is dadra’s.

X

 

 

0

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

dhā

dhin

dhā

tin

 

Figure 14.8

AUDIO CLIP: Figure 14.8

 

This is khemta’s.

X

 

 

0

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

dhin

dhin

tin

ka

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 14.9

AUDIO CLIP Figure 14.9

 

After discussing the “easier-to-grasp” talas, we began talking about talas with structures that are not so common in Western music, however very common in Indian music. The first to be discussed was the seven matra rupak tala. Here is the theka.

X(0)

 

 

2

 

3

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

tin

tin

dhin

dhin

 

Figure 14.10

AUDIO CLIP: Figure 14.10

 

In further elaboration of the point, the fourteen matra tala was viewed as two seven matras forms combined to form a single tala. This was conceptually supported by the dipachandi tala. Unlike rupak tala, it was symmetric. Recall that symmetrical talas must be even! They may not have odd or fractional sum of matras.

X

 

 

2

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

dhā

dhin

——

dhā

dhā

dhin

——

0

 

 

3

 

 

 

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

tin

——

dhā

dhā

dhin

——

 

Figure 14.11

AUDIO CLIP: Figure 14.11

 

 

The last of the tala gallery is jhaptala, which has only ten matras with a symmetrical structure to it.

X

 

2

 

 

0

 

3

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

dhin

dhin

dhin

tin

dhin

dhin

 

Figure 14.12

AUDIO CLIP: Figure 14.12

 

If you have trouble playing a particular tala, it is recommended to go back to the original chapter in which the tala was discussed and study it, practice it, and master it before entering the next few units. Everything from here onwards will be using these talas very extensively.

 

The talas that you have learned in this unit will help you in majority of North Indian classical and semi-classical forms. However, just by playing a single tala with few variations of the theka, or using various prakars, there will still be an element missing to separate pieces of songs. As a result, despite producing crisp bols on the tabla and play the talas with mastery, the playing technique would be rated as dull. The new two units will help create a new life to these talas.

UPDATED: June 20, 2009