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Chapter 26: Introduction to Obscure Talas


This entire unit of miscellaneous and obscure talas may or may not be covered depending on who is the teacher. Unlike Unit Two talas which is found most frequently in folk, semi-classical and classical settings, these talas are not as famous. Most of these talas featured here are the talas emanating from an ancient drum known as the pakhawaj. Pakhawaj bols are significantly different from that of the tabla.


Tabla bols show an extreme tolerance to vowel sounds. When speaking fast phrases, “ge” will begin to sound like “ga.” They are almost interchangeable. In pakhawaj, this is not the case. “” and “ka” are entirely two different bols. “” is the pakhawaj “”, while “ka” is like the tabla bol “ka.” To make matters even more confusing, “” and “” are both used! Unlike tabla, real pakhawaj playing is not based on thekas. Rather, they are based on thappis or a generalized format of the tala based on the tali-khali form. Pakhawaj playing is indeed very difficult, which contributes to its decline from the musical scene.


Unlike Unit Two, this unit will have talas in their form with important notes on how they are played. If playing common Indian classical musical forms or folk rhythms, most of this chapter may not be of any use. Still, it’s good to appreciate the complexity of rhythm. Especially considering that in the Vedic ages, talas would go as far as 108 matras per cycle!


One good pointer to note is that almost all pakhawaj talas have “dhi-nana ka dhet” or “titakata gadigana” phrases used.

UPDATED: June 20, 2009