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Sapta Talas

3:11 PM Posted by Vijayasri


"Sruthi Mata, Laya Pita" is an often quoted which means Sruthi the basic pitch and rhythm are the parents of good music. Rhythm is important to give any kind of music a balance. Laya is a word which encompasses all aspects of rhythm while Thala is a system evolved to measure laya.

Carnatic Music has evolved a very complicated Thala system. There are 7 basic thalas which are divided and further sub divided to give raise to a total of 175 thalas.

In Carnatic Music every composition is set to a particular Thala. The pace in which the composition should be sung is also indicated. The percussion instrument Mridangam is an indispensable accompaniment in every Carnatic Music concert.
A good grip on laya is very essential for Carnatic Musicians- considering the fact that rhythm is thought of as "father" of good music

1. Dhruva Thalam - one laghu, one drutam and two laghus
2. Matya Thalam - one laghu, one drutam and one laghu
3. Rupaka Thalam - one drutam and one laghu
4. Jampa Thalam - one laghu, one anudrutam and one drutam
5. Triputa Thalam - one laghu and two drutams
6. Ata Thalam - two laghus and two drutams
7. Eka Thalam - one laghu

Lets see how the seven basic thalas become thirty five thalas.

The laghu can be of five "jatis" or types.
1. Thisra (3) Laghu - i.e laghu with one clap and two finger counts
2. Chatusra (4) laghu - i.e laghu with one clap and three finger counts
3. Kandam (5) laghu - laghu with one clap and four finger counts
4. Misram (7) laghu- i.e laghu with one clap and six finger counts.
5. Sankirnam (9) laghu - i.e laghu with one clap and eight finger counts.

Each thala can be varied in five different ways by varying the type of laghu. For example you can gave Tisra jati Dhruva thala, Chatusra jati Dhruva thala, Kanda Jati Dhruva thala, Misra jati Dhruva thala and Sankirna Jati Dhruva thala.
Likewise all seven thalas can be varied on the laghu thus giving rise to a total of 7x5= 35 thalas.

In addition the laghu can be varied on speed also. By varying the speed a total of 175 thalas can be obtained. Let us see how.

The laghu can be of five "gatis" or speeds
1. Tisra -three : denoted by the syllables Ta-Ki-Ta
2. Chatusra - four : denoted by the syllables Ta-Ka-Di-Mi
3. Kanda- five: denoted by the syllables Ta-Ka-Ta-Ki-Ta
4. Misra -seven: denoted by the syllables Ta-Ka-Di-Mi Ta-Ki-Ta
5. Sankirna - nine: denoted by the syllables Ta-Ka-Di-Mi Ta-Ka Ta-Ki-Ta.

Each of the above mentioned thirty five thalas can be varied in five different ways on the basis of speed. For instance you can have Kanda jati Matya thalam in Misra gati and so on.

So the seven basic thalas when varied by the five types of laghu give rise to thirty five thalas which when again varied by the five kinds of laghu speed give rise to 175 thalas.
Hence we have a total of 7 x 5 jatis x 5 gatis = 175 thalas in all.

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