Krsna Kirtana Songs est. 2001                                                                                                                                                      www.kksongs.org


Home ΰ Music Center ΰ Instrumental Guides ΰ Tabla Guide

Chapter 16: Vilambit Lay

 

As discussed in the previous chapter, vilambit lay is, generally, the slow tempo. In Western music, playing a rhythm in a slow tempo will be understood to be taking a rhythm and playing it at a slow rate or slow beat per minute speed. This is almost the same idea in Indian music, although it is not as simple.

 

Vilambit lay does not simply mean to play a tāla slowly. Let us look at why “playing it slowly” does not suffice as the proper definition.

 

Look at figure 16.1. You should recall that cycle to be the theka of tintāl. Take a moment now and play this theka for about a few cycles in normal time.

 

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 16.1

AUDIO CLIP: Figure 16.1

 

Now play that same theka slowly. If you have a metronome, set it for about 40 beats per minute. Play the theka of tintāl as slow as possible. What characteristics did you notice?

 

One thing you should have obviously picked up is that it takes much longer to complete one cycle that it did when you played it in normal time. Look at the tāla diagram in Chapter 15. Notice that with the slow speed, you probably would have completed more than one cycle with the normal time (madhya lay).

 

Along with the notion of having longer time to complete an avartān, the time between two matras grows longer. Play the tintāl theka in very slow speed once more and listen how much there is a gap between the sam and matra 2, for instance. This is perfectly all right for the tabla player. More likely than not, you won’t be alone playing tabla. If you are with a classical musician, instrumental or vocal, you will come across a time where you will have to play this very slow tempo, or go even slower. Keeping time for the tabla player will be even more difficult as you are trying to measure a gap between two consecutive matras. Even more, the musician will get confused on which matra you are in. Especially knowing that tintāl is a symmetrical tāla, there are lots of “dhins” and “dhās.” Comparing bols, vibhags 1 and 2 are identical. Thus confusion greatly increases with greater gaps and symmetrical thekas. So the question is “How do we solve this problem?”

 

We use fillers for the spaces. Let’s use a non-tabla example. Whenever you are counting seconds without a stopwatch, there will be a tendency to recite “1 (pause)… 2 (pause)…” and so on. The chances of having an equally space between any two consecutive spaces are not good. If we use fillers, here and say “1 one thousand, 2 one thousand…” or “one thousand 1, 2 one thousand…” then the chances of getting equally spaced time between two consecutive seconds are much better. Here, the filler phrase is “one thousand.”

 

If you do tintāl without fillers, you will see it is very hard to keep time. You have to use fillers to allow an ease at time keeping. However, fillers cannot be random. Let us look at tintāl in vilambit lay. Figure 16.2 shows tintāl without fillers. There is a lot of space between any two consecutive matras. Let us add some fillers to the first line.

X

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

dhā

dhin

dhin

dhā

2

 

 

 

5

6

7

8

dhā

dhin

dhin

dhā

0

 

 

 

9

10

11

12

dhā

tin

tin

3

 

 

 

13

14

15

16

dhin

dhin

dhā

 

Figure 16.2

 

We will look at each vibhag and analyze the changes and examine why we used these fillers.

 

X

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

dhā

ge

te

dhin

ge

te

dhin

ge

te

dhā

te

 

Figure 16.3

 

Notice how in matras sam to four, we used the phrase “ge te.” Sam and matra 2 read as “dhā dhin” in normal lay, both equal in length. Imagine, that sam is split into two matras. Matra 1A will be “dhā” will full force, and then Matra 1 B will have the “ge-te” phrase. Matras 2 and 3 will also have the split, just as the sam.

 

Notice how matra 4, despite having “te” as the filler phrase. This distinction is very important. The singer or instrumentalist, focusing on the melodic details, will need to distinguish the upcoming tāli (matra 5) from the regular matra strength (matras 2, 3, and 4). Since matra 5 to matra 8 has the same tāla structure (starts with a tāli followed by three normal beats), it would mirror the exact look as sam to matra 4 structure. For name sake, here is vibhag #2: matras 5 to 8 in Figure 16.4.

 

2

 

 

 

5

6

7

8

dhā

ge

te

dhin

ge

te

dhin

ge

te

dhā

te

 

 

Figure 16.4

 

Let us examine this. Matra 9 is a khali. Matras 9 through 12 will lack resonant baya bols. Instead of using “ge-te”, the nonresonant counterpart is “ke-te.” Look at Figure 16.5. There are many differences besides “ke-te” change.

 

0

 

 

 

9

10

11

12

dhā

ke

te

tin

ke

te

tin

tin

 

Figure 16.5

 

For matras 11 and 12, instead of a predicted “tin – ke-te; – te,” it ends as “tin – tin; .” The khali set of matras are almost coming to an end. The ending has to be unique to give special attention to the musician that a tāli is approaching.

 

3

 

 

 

13

14

15

16

ke

ti

ra

ki

ṭa

dhin

ge

te

dhin

ge

te

dhā

kre

dhā

dhā

 

Figure 16.6

 

The tāli, matra 13, starts the last four matras of tintāl. Since 13 is the last tāli approaching the sam, it has to have a unique start. Hence, the phrase “nā-ke-trkṭ” is used instead of the usual “dhā; ge-te” phrase. Also, the last matra has a very important phrase.” Dhā –kradhā- dhā-” This is used to mark the entrance of the sam. Thus, the entire tintāl cycle in vilambit lay takes place. Figure 16.7 has the entire tintāl structure in vilambit lay. Play this many times to get used to it.

 

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

3

 

 

 

13

14

15

16

ke

ti

ra

ki

ṭa

dhin

ge

te

dhin

ge

te

dhā

kre

dhā

dhā

 

Figure 16.7

 

Also keep in mind while playing it that never play this tāla in regular time. Remember, the function of playing these is to play this in very slow time, around 30 or 40 beats per minute. You will even find it really hard to play this in regular time. Always remember that a higher bol density makes it harder to play.

 

We used tintāl to introduce the concept of fillers. However, vilambit tintāl is not popularly used. Instead, the most popular choice for both instrumentalists and vocalists is the vilambit ektāl. The fillers of ektāl are much more developed.

 

Here is the theka of ektāl in regular time.

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 16.8

AUDIO CLIP: Figure 16.8

 

Here is the vilambit lay of ektāl. Notice how greatly spaced the tāla is.

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dhin

te

dhin

te

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dhā

kre

ge

ge

ge

ti

ra

ki

ṭa

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tun

te

te

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ka

ti

ra

ki

ṭa

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dhā

kre

ge

ge

ge

ti

ra

ki

ṭa

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dhin

te

dhā

tre

dhā

dhā

 

Figure 16.9

 

Notice how in the vilambit lay, there are a lot of fillers used. There are many types of fillers used. The sam can be viewed as one matra divided into eight equal parts. Thus, 7/8 of the matra is played by a very forceful dhin (because it is the sam), and the remaining 1/8 matra is played by the “te.” The sam and matra 2 have the same construction, though matra 2 is not played as forcefully.

 

Matra 3, in the regular timed theka, is divided into two parts. Matra 3A was the bol “dhā” while matra 3B was the bol “geMatra 3 in vilambit lay shadows it very well. Matra 3 can be split into two. The second half is split into two. The second half of the second half is also split. So you have one half beat and one quarter beat, and one eighth beat. Notice how doubling the ghe was used to avoid having time-keeping problems. So it would be “dhā ge-ge-ge.” As shown here in the lay, you can even replicate the second matra’s pattern by adding a “te” before the “gha” phrase comes up. It’ll help with time keeping.

 

Matra 4 retains its trkṭa structure. Matra 5 has “tun” but follows the same construction of the sam and matra 2; that is to say, 7/8 of matra 5 has “tun” while 1/8 has “teMatra 6 has the same structure as matra 3, except “dhā” and “ge” are replaced with “.” It is also possible to use a “te” between the first and second “

 

Matra 7 has its whole matra with “ka.” This is the only matra in vilambit lay that will have a single bol in a matra without any divisions. The eighth matra is constructed a little differently. Matra 4 through 7 had a great deal of khali bols, matra 8 will have to adequately prepare for the entry of the tāli bols. If you do not remember the possible tāla structures of ektāl, please refer back to chapter 9 for details. Matra 8 has 5/8 of the matra for “”, while the remaining 3/8 uses “ trkṭa” as a special entry for matra 9. Matra 9 is exactly the same as matra 3; this should be quite obvious, since in normal timed ektāl, matra 3 and matra 9 are both “dhā ge” as far as bols are concerned. Likewise, matra 10 is an exact replication of matra 4, since both of them are “trkṭa” structured.

 

Matra 11 and 12 are fundamentally very important to notice. You have seen many examples of fillers before. These fillers used in the last two matras require special attention. Matras 11 and 12 are the last two matras that will complete ektāl. Remember that tālas are not merely rhythms. They are cycles. This means that after matra 12 is completed, one cycle of ektāl will be completed, and another one will begin. The first matra, or the sam, is the most important and it is the duty of the last two matras to adequately give way to the entry of the sam.

 

Matra 11 is not really anything different. In fact, it is exactly the same as the sam or matra 2, bol-wise. Unlike the sam or matra 2, it is more accented than matra 2, but less accented than the sam. Remember from chapter 9 that ektāl has a tāli on matra 11. Thus, the accenting is necessary. Finally, the last matra comes up. Matra 12, in normal time, is “.” However to prepare for the upcoming sam, it is necessary to use “dhā

 

If split into two halves, 7/8 of matra 12A would be “dhā”, while the remaining of matra 12A would be “teMatra 12B would be “dhā dhe-dhe.” The two “dhe” should the baya with high pitch fluctuation. This unique fluctuation will alert the musician or vocalist that the first ektāl cycle has completed, and a new one will begin.

 

Almost every classical tāla has a vilambit lay. However, it is not practical to go over every tāla’s vilambit lay in detail. However, if you ever had to do a tāla in which you have not learned an official vilambit lay, here are some tips to help you.

 

1) Keep the tāla structure in mind:

 

Recall from our discussion of the tintāl and ektāl, despite the fact that we were going at very slow tempos, we did not change the structure one bit. Tintāl still retained its characteristic three tālis and one khali divisions as 4-4-4-4. Ektāl also retained its structure, assuming the correct one was 4-4-2-2. If you do anything to change the accent or deaccenting points, you will have changed the tāla, even though the bols might be the same.

 

2) Use the right fillers to help keep proper time:

 

Remember how at the end of ektāl we used a special filer to alert the start of a new cycle. Do not use that same filler all the time. Be sure you are wise about how you use your fillers. Of course, using the right fillers come with time, experience, and practice.

 

3) Vilambit lay use more bols

 

Vilambit lay will always use more bols to help keep time. You have so much space to fill the gaps, so do not leave too much space behind. Similarly, do not put too many fillers that vilambit lay will seem like a normal time theka. It is very easy to get carried away with that.

 

Using three tips, you should be able to do any vilambit lay for most of the tālas that we have studied. If you will ever accompany a musician, most likely you will end up using vilambit ektāl or vilambit tintāl. It is a very good idea to commit those tālas to memory.

 

As a final note, it should be very helpful count out the matra number. However, instead of simply counting “1-2-3-4-5, etc…” you should count “1-2-3-4-2-2-3-4, etc.” to allow you to use the “2-3-4” suffix to help you keep time better. It is very imperative that you know how to use the vilambit lay properly before moving onto the madhya lay and drut lay chapters.

UPDATED: June 20, 2009