Monday, May 12, 2008

Talam

Talam is one of the important topics in Carnatic Music and can be explained in a simple way so that the Rasikas can understand and Appreciate.

We all know the meaning of Rhythm which can be explained as the repetition of elements with an equal time interval. The word “ Time” is used here since we deal with Music in which time measure is playing an important roll.

Rhythm is explained below in a simple manner . Each number shown below represent a beat or Count[which is called an Akshara ] and the distance between them indicates the time interval. Shorter or longer interval shows the “Tempo”.

1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9…10…11…12…13…14…15…16…17… and so on.

This can go on for any length of time.

The Rhythm may follow a pattern as shown below,

1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…and so on.,

We may explain that Rhythm follows a pattern of 8 and this cycle is repeated and can be called a Rhythmic pattern.
This type of counts following a Rhythmic pattern may be called as Talam. The number of counts will vary with each variety of Talam. The cyclic counts of 8 is called Adi Thalam, 6 is called Rupaka Talam etc., One complete such cycle is called one Aavartham.

There are a total of 35 Tala Variety in Carnatic Music. The total number of counts per cycle may range from 3 to 29.[Further advance study on Tala we understand, that there are over 175 Talas and is not dealt here due to their complexity.]

The Rasikas might have noticed in the concert that the Vocal artist perform Tala by gently beating the Right hand palm on the Right Thigh ,counting the fingers and waving the Palm. There are various sequences of these actions according to the Tala variety.

The finger counts will follow the sequence of a beat, little finger,ring finger, middle finger, beat, Wave,beat,and wave.

The action or kriya- a beat and finger counts is called Laghu, a beat and wave is called Drutham and beat alone is called Anudrutham.

The following photographs show the action or Kriya of Adi Talam.


The artist playing instruments may seek the help of others to perform Tala sitting in front of the Artist amongst audiences or may be able to play without help from outside correctly by virtue of their experience.

The artist playing cymbals helps the main artist to maintain Talam in Nadaswaram concerts.

The time span of one cycle of a Talam will normally match with a lyric- sentence. This is the reason for the various varieties of Talam.

Here are a few examples to explain the above statement taken from the kritis of Sri Muthuswamy Dikshithar:

Lyrics for………………………..............Ragam………..Talam……Counts.
one Aavartham

1. Sooryamurthe Namosthuthe.. Sowrashtram……Druva Talam …14

2. Chandram Bhaja Manasa……....Asavery………….Matya Talam....10

3. Angaaraka……………………….......Surati…………….Rupaka Talam...6

4. Budamaasrayami Satha………Natakuranji…….Jampa Talam………10

5. Bruhaspathe Tharaa Pathe…..Ataana…………..Triputa Talam..….7

6. Sri Sukra Bhagavantham………Paras…………….Ata Thalam…………14

7 Dhivaakara Thanu……………….Yadukula Kambo…Eka Talam…....4

Note: The number of counts given at the last column is taken from basic Sapthatalas and their subdivisions are not taken into consideration.

The Rasikas should note that there is no Talam for Raga Alapana, Thanam, Virutham singing, slokas etc.

Moreover there is no rule that various Krithis in a particular Raga must be in one Tala. [That is to say, various Kritis in a Raga may be in different Tala]. But a specific kriti has been composed in a particular Tala.

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