Rhythmic India : Taal ( beat)

Taal or rhythm is a very important part of India classical repertoire, what i have inferred is that the core essential concepts and protocols kinda remains the same across all genres , even-though the linguistic and cultural interpretations can be different.

Basically the language of rhythm is universal and there can be different ways you can conceive and manifest it, in this abstract we will dig more deep into TAAL. (The core concept of rhythm in Indian classical Music).

So let’s take the Indian classical context, the Taal and Laya are related to the rhythmic side, Taal is composed of a cycle and set of syllables, so these syllables will be arranged in a certain order at a certain time, all well arranged in time , in a particular order to render a beat cycle. 

Taal is an accentuated beat, now another term which plays a vital role is Laya which is the syllabic connection between the rhythm or let’s say the distance between the two syllable, Basically Laya determines the tempo of the track in simple words.


Vilambit , which is slow
Madhya, medium
Drut, fast

Indian Classical Beats are also defined as Matras, so a beat cycle can be of 10 Matras, 12 or 16, totally depends on the choice of the tabla player and the accompanying musician, so when a beat cycle ends it is termed and Avarthanam. (refers to one complete round of a Taal ).

Now depending on weather you are going to jam Chota Khyaal or Bada khyaal, the Taal structure and the Laya will be synchronized with the Gayaki, all the above mentioned concepts & processes are deeply integrated with each other.

So based on the tempo and the feel of the melodic structure, you have to integrate the right Taal with the right Laya to get the right feel.

The way of counting the time signature and way of being aware of the beat cycle is kinda different in western classical and Indian classical regime but what aligns both of them is the tempo.

The intonations , ornamentation and the syllabic structure can be distinct based on the linguistic and cultural frameworks but if the tempo is synchronized then all drums around the world will sound in unison, if you got the tuning and tempo right.

The way to count can be different for an African drummer or an North Indian or South Indian drummer, but if given the same tempo they all can easily sync on it, the beats may sound different but they will all sound in unison and harmony as long as the tempo and the tonal information is same.

I will draw a parallel between a TAAL and a DRUM BEAT, but that is a long topic to write about, keeping in mind i will upload many follow up articles that will make it super clear how TAAL and BEATS are defined and what similarities they have and what dissimilarities they have, so keep on reading and sharing….

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