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Adi Tala – Primary And Popular Tala In The Carnatic Music

Adi Tala is a primary and poplar tala in the Carnatic music system of classical Hindu music. Tala is a measurement of time employed in singing (to make the song rhythmic) and is indicated by hand or by an instrument. In the Carnatic music system, seven main varieties of tala are recognized; with the use of five kinds of jati (species) 35 (7 X 5 = 35) talas are derived. The names of the seven main varieties of tala are Dhruva, Matya, Rupaka, Jhampa, Triputa, Ata and Eka. A tala has three components – druta, anudruta and laghu. Sarangadeva, the author of Sangitaratnakara, introduced viramas (a sound longer than the notes of intermediate duration) over laghu and druta. This led to the development of three, four, five, seven and even nine-syllabled laghus in tala measures, (tisra, catusra, khanda, misra and Sankirna, respectively). The durations are the sums of the matras and not the multiples of them.

Kriyas of a tala are the expression of time durations on the hand and determine angas (those which take up the time measures). Marga kriyas are of two kinds, namely, sasabda and nishabda. Nishabda kriyas are silent expressions of the time duration by different movements of the hand. Of these, avapa is counting the time duration by folding the fingers of the hand turned upwards. Anudruta is a beat of the hand raised up to the distance of one-and-a-half fingers. Druta is represented by a beat and wave. The number of the finger counts varies according to the aksharakala in jatis (species) of the laghu.

One of the popular talas is Aditala. Kriyas (actions) of the Aditala of the Carnatic system consist of a beat followed by the counting of three fingers from the little up to the middle finger (laghu) and a beat and a wave of the hand and again a beat and a wave of the hand (two drutas), making a total of eight aksharas. Tanat tala of the Hindustani system resembles Aditala in respect of the number of aksharas, which are eight. It is counted differently, the beats fall on the first, third and seventh syllables. The expressions of tala are a continuous stream of avartas (rounds), each round reaching the fixed point of origin. In Tamil convention, a single avarta is known as orutalavartana. Each avartanai of Aditala has eight aksharas.