What is Taal

Today we discuss on Taal in Indian Classical Music.

What is Taal?

Taal is also known as Rhythm is Indian Classical Music.

Taal is the measurement of Musical time.

Thus, Taal is music meter; a strike or beat that determines the flow of music.

An integral part of Hindustani music, Taal, constitutes rhythm, which occurs naturally in life processes like heart beat and breathing.

Thus, it transforms symbolically the natural movement of life into the musical form. This movement gives an illusion of virtual time.

The passage of an interval and onset of another interval of a Tala gives us a measure of the virtual time that is created within the musical form.

Therefore, to visualize the flow of music, one can clap hands or thighs, wave hands, touching fingers, strike small cymbals or use some percussion instruments.

Now, Tabla and Pakhwaj are the widely used percussion instruments in Indian Classical Music. They are used to create beats or rhythm on the basis of which Music flows or bases upon.

Besides, Ragas, Taal also forms the foundational elements of Indian Classical Music.

To conclude, Taal or Tala establishes the time dimension of Musical piece. Actually, implies the music meter. However, that does not mean Taal will always be recurring in pattern.

Rather, Taal arranged in a hierarchical manner based upon which the music is composed or performed.  

Now, Taal is very ancient musical concept has its origin in the Vedic era texts like the Samveda, where the hymns were chanted rhythmically.  

Also Read : The Ultimate Guide on Dhrupad

What is Taal or Tala?

The etymology of the word ‘Taal’ or ‘Tala’ has its origin in Sanskrit words. The word means pivot, based upon, being established.

Then, what is Taal or Tala in Indian Classical Music? As per David Nelson, a scholar and researcher specializing in Carnatic music, a Taal in Indian Classical Music covers “the whole subject of musical meter”.

The Indian Classical Music is composed and performed according to a metric structure, a rhythmic structure which is a Taal.

The Tala forms the measuring structure that repeats, in a cyclical harmony, from the beginning to the end of each particular song or dance segment.

A Taal measures musical tempo in Indian music. However, this does not imply a regular repeating pattern; instead, its hierarchical arrangement depends on how the piece of music is to be interpreted.

Importance of Taal in Music

So far, we have clearly understood What is Taal or Tala in Indian Music. Now, let us concentrate on the importance of Taal in Indian Classical Music.

Actually, now its clear that the flow of Music is based upon Taal. Without Taal or the rhythmic structure Music can not be performed.

Therefore, Taal can be the mathematical measures of Music. A cycle of Taal consists specific number of units known as Beats. And, it can have as low as 3 beats to 128 beats.

The motif repeats itself, but the interplay of accents and empty beats is an integral part of the architecture of Indian music. Each Taal has sub-units.

In other words, the larger cyclic Taal pattern has incorporated smaller cyclic patterns and these two rhythmic patterns allow the player and the audience to experience the playing of harmonious and discordant patterns on two planes.

A musician can choose to intentionally challenge a model at the sub-unit contradicting the Taal, explore the model excitingly, therefore bring music and public experience to the fundamental model of cyclic beats.

History of Taal

What is Taal in Hindustani Music?

What is Taal in Carnatic Music?

Types of Taals

Final Words


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