Talam structure

Talam in Sanskrit means ‘clap.’ Whilst you can get various meanings of ‘talam’ and definitions by doing a google on it, I will try to put across the simplest way to understand and remember the structure of talam. Please note that this is not exhaustive. To start with, one needs to be familiar with a few jargons related to talam. 

Talam has six angas or parts. These are namely: 
1) Anudhrutam 
2) Dhrutam 
3) Laghu 
4) Guru 
5) Plitham 
6) Kakapaadam 

We will now take the first three aspects or angas and try to understand them. 
1) Anudhrutam: It is represented by the symbol ‘U.’ It is a beat, and is physically counted as 1 unit/akshara. 

2) Dhrutam: It is represented by the symbol ‘O.’ It is a beat and a wave of the hand. This is counted as 2 units/akshara. 

3) Laghu: It is represented by the symbol ‘l.’ It is – one beat+ followed by counts of the fingers starting from the little finger.  

The counts of fingers are units called ‘aksharas.’ Laghu can be of five types. These are Jathis. 

Let us now understand the Jathi pattern. 
1) Tisra Jathi: In this, Laghu has one beat of the palm facing downwards + 2 finger counts (in detain, the finger counts will be- little finger, ring finger). This equals three units or three aksharas. 

2) Chatushra Jathi: In this, Laghu has one beat of the palm facing downwards + 3 finger counts (in detain, the finger counts will be- little finger, ring finger and middle finger). This equals four units or four aksharas. 

3) Khanda Jathi: In this, Laghu has one beat of the palm facing downwards + 4 finger counts (in detain, the finger counts will be- little finger, ring finger, middle finger and again little finger). This equals five units or five aksharas. 

4) Misra Jathi: In this, Laghu has one beat of the palm facing downwards + 6 finger counts (in detain, the finger counts will be- little finger, ring finger, middle finger again little finger, ring finger and middle finger). This equals seven units or seven aksharas. 

5) Sankeerna Jathi: In this, Laghu has one beat of the palm facing downwards + 8 finger counts (in detain, the finger counts will be- little finger, ring finger, middle finger again little finger, ring finger middle finger, and again little finger and ring finger). This equals nine units or nine aksharas. 

Let us now see how a talam is structured. For this, we will study the seven basic talams, called the “Suladi Sapta Talams.”  

In Carnatic music, there are seven basic talams that are often used. They are called “Suladi Sapta Talams.” These are as follows: 
 

Tala  Description of Aavartanam  Default length of laghu / Jathi  Total Aksharas /Units 
Dhruva  1O11 (1 laghu of 4 beats + 1dhrutam (2units) +1laghu of 4 beats + 1 laghu of 4 beats)  4 (Chatushra)  14 
Matya  1O1 (1 laghu of 4 beats + 1 dhrutam (2units) + 1 laghu of 4 beats)  4 (Chatushra)  10 
Rupaka  O1 (1dhrutam (2units) + 1 laghu of 4 beats)  4 (Chatushra)  6 
Jhampa  1UO (1 laghu of 4 beats + 1 anudhrutam (1unit) + 1 dhrutam (2units)  4 (Chatushra)  7 
Triputa  1OO (1 laghu of 4 beats + 1 dhrutam (2units) + 1 dhrutam (2units)  4 (Chatushra)  8 
Ata  11OO (1 laghu of 4 beats + 1 laghu of 4 beats +1 dhrutam (2units) + 1 dhrutam (2units)  4 (Chatushra)  12 
Eka  1 (1 laghu of 4 beats)  4 (Chatushra)  4 

  
One complete talam cycle is called an “Aavartanam.” For eg. One aavartanam in Chatushra jathi Ata talam is 12 aksharams long. Likewise, one can calculate the number of aksharams in each aavartanam according to the talam and jathi. For instance, one aavaratanam in Misra jathi Jhampa talam will be 10 aksharams long. 

There are few places where you will see that the word ‘chaapu’ is used in place of ‘jathi.’  

Most popular Talams that are used in Bharatanatyam are: 
1) Adi Talam: It is nothing but Chatushra jathi Triputa Talam. It has 8 aksharams per aavartanam.  

2) Rupaka Talam: Though there are six aksharas, only three are rendered externally. One anudhrutam and one dhrutam. In Bharatanatyam the sollus are: thaka ta kita, where thaka is one beat and ta kita are two beats giving us 3 aksharas for Rupaka talam. 

3) Misrachapu Talam: Has 7 aksharas per avartanam. (Tisra jathi Triputa talam) In Bharatanatyam, the sollus are: tha ki ta tha ka dhi mi, found in most Shabdams. 

4) Khandachapu Talam: Five aksharas per aavartanam.  

Before we move to the other three parts or angas of a Talam, we need to understand the following:  
1) 1 krshyai – Has 4 aksharams and is represented by waving the hand towards left. 
2) 1 sarpini – Has 4 aksharams and is represented by waving the hand towards right. 
3) 1 pathakam – Has 4 aksharams and is represented by raising the hand vertically. 
4) Viramam – A single akshara part. 

Now, let us understand the other three angas/parts of Talam.  
1) 1 Guru – 1 beat and counting 7 fingers equaling to 8 aksharams 
2) 1 Plutham – 1 guru + 1 krshyai + 1 sarpini equaling to 12 aksharams 
3) 1 Kakapadam – 1 guru+ 1 krshyai + 1 sarpini + 1 pathakam equalling to 16 aksharams.  

(The symbols for all the above 3 angas are in the table discussed below.) 

We now know all the six parts/ angas of the Talams. These six angas are called the Shadangams of Talam. When we add the viramam to all the six angas, we get sixteen parts of Talam called Shodasangams. 

Below is a tabular representation.* 
 

Anga name  Symbol  Aksharakaalas  Movement 
Anudhrutam  U  1  beat with palm 
Dhrutam  0  2  beat with palm + turn (wave) 
Dhruta viramam  U0  3 (2 + 1)  dhrutam + anudhrutam 
Laghu  |  4 (or 3, 5, 7, 9)  beat + finger counts 
Laghu viramam  U|  5 (4 + 1)  laghu + anudhrutam 
Laghu dhrutam  0|  6 (4 + 2)  laghu + dhrutam 
Laghudhruta viramam  U0|  7 (4 + 2 + 1)  laghu + dhrutam + anudhrutam 
Guru  8  8  wave to left and right or circle with thumb-up 
Guru viramam  U8  8 (8 + 1)  guru + anudhrutam 
Guru dhrutam  08  10 (8 + 2)  guru + dhrutam 
Gurudhruta viramam  U08  11 (8 + 2 + 1)  guru + dhrutam + anudhrutam 
Plutham  |8  12 (8 + 4)  1 guru +1 kryshya + 1 sarpini – each of 4 aksharakalas  
Plutha viramam  U|8  13 (12 + 1)  plutam + anudhrutam 
Plutha dhrutam  0|8  14 (12 + 2)  plutam + dhrutam 
Plutha dhruta viramam  U0|8  15 (12 + 2 + 1)  plutam + dhrutam + anudhrutam 
Kaakapaadam  +  16  1 guru +1 patakam + 1 kryshya + 1 sarpini – each of 4 aksharakalas 

(*Table from www.ajsriram.blogspot.com, with a few changes)  

One more important thing that affects the Talam is Nadai or gati. It means speed or pace at which a composition in rendered. It is the count which determines the duration of the aksharam, which is usually fixed but for a few exceptions. This count is called “maatraa.”  The default nadai is Chatusram. But the nadai can be one of 3, 4, 5, 7 or 9, and these are respectively called Tisra, Chatushra, Khanda, Misra and Sankeerna. This provides further variation to the talam. (www.tutorgig.com with a few changes).  

For eg. If we need to know the number of maatraas in a chatushra gati tisra jathi eka talam, it will be: 4*1 beat + 4*1 little finger count + 4*1 ring finger count equals 12 maatraas. 

Now take a look at the table below.* 
 

Tala  Jathi  Nadai  Aksharaas  Maatraas 
Dhruva   1O11  Tisra  1 beat +2 finger counts  Tisra  Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

11  3+2+3+3  33  44  

55  

77  

99 

  Chatushra  1 beat + 3 finger counts  Tisra    

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

14  4+2+4+4  42    

56  

70  

98  

126 

  Khanda  1 beat +4 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

17  5+2+5+5    51  

68  

85  

119  

153 

  Misra  1 beat +6 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

23  7+2+7+7    69  

92  

115  

161  

207 

  Sankeerna  1 beat + 8 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

29  9+2+9+9    87  

116  

145  

203  

261 

Matya   1O1  Tisra  1beat +2 finger counts  Tisra  Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

 3+2+3  24  32  

40  

56  

72  

 

  Chatushra  1 beat + 3 finger counts  Tisra  Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

10  4+2+4  30  40  

50  

70  

90 

  Khanda  1 beat +4 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

12  5+2+5    36  

48  

60  

84  

108 

  Misra  1 beat +6 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

16  7+2+7    48  

64  

80  

112  

144 

  Sankeerna  1 beat + 8 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

20  9+2+9    60  

80  

100  

140  

180 

  Rupaka  

O1 

  Tisra  

1beat +2 finger counts 

  Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

   

2+3 

  15  

20  

25  

35  

45 

  Chatushra  1 beat + 3 finger counts  Tisra  Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

 2+4  18  24  

30  

42  

54 

  Khanda  1 beat +4 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

 2+5    21  

28  

35  

49  

63 

  Misra  1 beat +6 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

 2+7    27  

36  

45  

63  

81 

  Sankeerna  1 beat + 8 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

11  2+9    33  

44  

55  

77  

99 

Jhampa  1UO  Tisra  1beat +2 finger counts  Tisra  Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

 3+1+2  18  24  

30  

42  

54 

  Chatushra  1 beat + 3 finger counts  Tisra  Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

 4+1+2  21  28  

35  

49  

54 

  Khanda  1 beat +4 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

 5+1+2    24  

32  

40  

56  

72 

  Misra  1 beat +6 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

10  7+1+2    30  

40  

50  

70  

90 

  Sankeerna  1 beat + 8 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

12  9+1+2    36  

48  

60  

84  

108 

Triputa  1OO  Tisra  1beat +2 finger counts  Tisra  Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

 3+2+2  21  28  

35  

49  

54 

  Chatushra  1 beat + 3 finger counts  Tisra  Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

 4+2+2  24  32  

40  

56  

72 

  Khanda  1 beat +4 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

 5+2+2    27  

36  

45  

63  

81 

  Misra  1 beat +6 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

11  7+2+2    33  

44  

55  

77  

99 

  Sankeerna  1 beat + 8 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

13  9+2+2    39  

52  

65  

91  

117 

Ata  11OO  Tisra  1beat +2 finger counts  Tisra  Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

10  3+3+2+2  30  40  

50  

70  

90 

  Chatushra  1 beat + 3 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

12  4+4+2+2    36  

48  

60  

84  

108 

  Khanda  1 beat +4 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

14  5+5+2+2    42  

56  

70  

98  

126 

  Misra  1 beat +6 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

18  7+7+2+2    54  

72  

90  

126  

162 

  Sankeerna  1 beat + 8 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

22  9+9+2+2    66  

88  

110  

154  

198 

Eka   Tisra  1beat +2 finger counts  Tisra  Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

   12  

15  

21  

27 

  Chatushra  1 beat + 3 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

    12  

16  

20  

28  

36 

  Khanda  1 beat +4 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

    15  

20  

25  

35  

45 

  Misra  1 beat +6 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

    21  

28  

35  

49  

63 

  Sankeerna  1 beat + 8 finger counts    Tisra  

Chatushra  

Khanda  

Misra  

Sankeerna 

    27  

36  

45  

63  

81 

(* The above table format is similar to that in www.carnatica.com with few changes) 

*this article already appears on www.narthaki.com

Advertisements

2 Responses to Talam structure

  1. anu says:

    good article it is. but what are the talams in bharatanatyam

  2. dinakar says:

    getting some more idea in talam.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: