While we are learning the Panchanadai, it will do good to understand the Thalam in Carnatic Music. Bharathanatyam is traditionally set to Carnatic Music, and an understnading of the system will go a long way in ensuring a wholesome learning of the art form.
Here is an intoduction to Thalam as written by Mannarkoil. J. Balaji at http://www.angelfire.com/mb/mridhangam/
Tala in Indian Carnatic Music is a time measure or rhythm cycle. As heart beat is to life for a man, Tala lends life for whole of a concert. It is said “Sruthi Mata Laya Pitha” which means, the drone emanated from the Tambura is Mother to the music and the Tala is like father. The tala or time in Carnatic Music is a series of counts made by wave of hand or tap of the hand on the lap or by using both the hands in a manner of clap.
There are seven basic talas in Carnatic Music: Suladi Sapta Talas. The Seven Talas form the major oft used rhythms in Carnatic Music. Though there are many tala systems in Carnatic Music, the Suladi Sapta Talas are the most famous since the time of Purandaradasa (1484-1564) and most of the Compositions currently sung are part of the Suladi Sapta Talas
To get an indepth understanding into the Suladi Sapta Thala Structure and its relationship to the Jathis let us look at this write up at http://www.saigan.com/heritage/music/tala1.htm
Each and every talam has a structure, that is governed by the rules pertaining to it. For example, if we take the most common tala – Chatusra Jaathi Triputa Talam (Adi Talam), we can describe the process of the tala thus :
1 beat of the palm of the hand on the thigh,
followed by counting three fingers, then beating the palm and turning it over, then beating the palm and turning it over
If we count a number each for every beat, fingercount or turn of the palm – the number comes to eight. So the tala has eight units. The units are called Aksharams and the Adi talam has 8 aksharams.
The first part of the tala which consists of the beating of the palm & counting is called Laghu. Here the number of units is 4 (Chatusram) and the laghu is Chatusra laghu. The Jaathi of the laghu determines the jaathi of the tala so the tala is Chatusrajaathi Adi Tala.
The next process of beat and turning the palm is called Drtham. It is done twice, so the tala has 2 drthams. Thus Chatusra Jaathi Triputa Talam(Adi) has one Chatusra Laghu and two drthams. The symbol for laghu is 1 and the number written beneath it represents the jaathi and the symbol for drtham is 0 and hence, this thalam will be represented thus
1 4 0 0
Thus, from the above, we understand that a tala has laghu, drtham and these are called Angams (parts) of the tala. In some cases, there may be half of drtham, i.e., just the beat of the palm without turning it and is called Anudrtham.
There are seven basic talas in Carnatic Music: Suladi Sapta Talas The Seven Talas form the major oft used rhythms in Carnatic Music. Though there are many tala systems in Carnatic Music, the Suladi Sapta Talas are the most famous since the time of Purandaradasa (1484-1564) and most of the Compositions currently sung are part of the Suladi Sapta Talas.
There are seven basic thalas/Suladi Sapta Thalas :
1. Dhruva talam – 1-Laghu,1-Dhruta,2-Laghus
2. Matya Talam – 1-Laghu,1-Dhruta,1-Laghu
3. Rupaka Talam- 1-Dhruta,1-Laghu
4. Jampa Talam -1-Laghu,1-Anu Dhruta,1-Dhruta
5. Triputa Talam-1-Laghu,2-Dhrutas
6. Ata Talam -2-Laghus,2-Dhrutas
7. Eka Talam -1-Laghu
Now lets see how the jathis come into interact:-
In a tala, the drtham has two units and anudrtham (if it is part of a talam) has 1 unit and this is a constant. But the units of the laghu vary according to the jaathi.
1. Thisra Jaathi
2. Chatusra Jaathi
3. Kanta Jaathi
4. Misra Jaathi
5. Sankeerna Jaathi
So, depending upon the jaathi, the units of the laghu varies. And the jaathi of the talam is determined by the jaathi of the laghu. Also, depending upon the jaathi of the laghu, the aksharams of the tala vary. For instance, the Triputa talam has the following angams – one laghu and two drthams and symbolically 1 0 0. Now, if the Triputa is Thisra Triputa, the laghu will have three aksharams
1 (3) 0 0
and the thala will have seven aksharams. If the talam is Kanda Triputa, the laghu will have 5 aksharams and the tala will have 9 aksharams
1 (5) 0 0
Thus the 7 talams in combination with the 5 jaathis gives 35 talas in Carnatic music. Among these, the Chatusra Jaathi Triputa (Adi), Rupakam, Kanda Chapu, Misra Chapu are the most widely used talam. All the 7 talas in one of the jaathi is taught in the preliminary vocal exercise of “Alankaram”. These talas are called desi talas
Further Reading to enhance comprehension http://www.carnaticindia.com/taala.html
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