Tala and raga

Elements and principles of traditional Afghan Music


Tala
A rhythmic cycle


Tala is in the music of Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, a metric cycle with a specific number of beats. The Talas have different kinds of speed. It’s a rhythmic cycle, and establishes, being combined with a specific raga, one of the main musical principles of traditional Afghan music. The Tala starts at the beginning of a gat and goes through the whole composition and indicates the tempo marking of the piece. Most important moment ist the first Matra (beat) of the cycle. It has a special emphasis. The Matras are splited in Vibhags. The different Talas are shown with specific moves of the hands. For example the first Matra of a Vibhag is shown by clapping your hands.

Ga

„Ga“ is played by a open stroke on the bayan with your index or middle finger. You do a stroke on the Maiden, so you have to play it between the Chart and the black spot. Don’t hit either of them. You can improvise and alter the force and duration you keep „Ge“ open to suit whatever piece you maybe playing or when you are practicing. The Bayan can be also rotated in almost any direction to be played. You have to looking for, where it sounds best.

Ge

„Ge“ is played by a closed stroke on the bayan with your index or middle finger. Putting force down on the Maiden near the edge of the black spot with your wrist. Improvise the force and duration you use with your wrist. By playing two beats one after the other, you are beginning with the index finger. Principally the sound from the index finger is a little bit different. In the upstroke, the wrist opens the Puri a little. During the second stroke, your wrist rest on the Puri.

Ke

„Ke“ is played with the flat hand and makes a closed sound on the Bayan. The top of your fingers should touch the edge of your tabla. You need a gaudy sound. It shouldn’t be a muffled sound or something like that.

Na/Ta

„Na“ is the highest open tone on tabla. „Na“ is played by striking the index finger on the edge of the tabla. The outer edge is called „Chart“ While doing that, you should not touch the tabla with your middle finger, it should stay suspended in the air. The ring finger is always touching the edge of the black spot in the middle of your Dayan because you need a kind of flageolet. „Na“ is sometimes called „Ta“ or „Tha“. You can say, that „Ta“ is a strong stroke and „Na“ is the weak one of it. All in all you can say, that the bols set the type of stroke in advance.

TeT

You play it with the forefinger at first and the middle finger in the middle of the Syahi one after another. The ring finger is touching the outside of the Syahi. You know that from „Na“.

Da/Dha

= „Ge“ and „Na“ are played simultaneously.

Ti/Tit

„Ti“ is mainly played by striking between the edge of the black spot (Syahi) and the Chart (rim, first Puri), which is called „Maiden“ (white layer). The ring finger is touching the outside of the Syahi. You know that from „Na“. But you can „Ti“ also play as a softly „Na“. „Ti“ is often also played as a „Tin“ or a light „Tun“.

Tun/Tin

„To play „Tun“ you just simply strike the finger across the Syahi and should make also contact near the Syahi. But we’ve seen „Tun“ also played on the right hand side across the chart (white layer). In that case, you have to slide with your ring finger on the edge of the Dayan. It is realy important, that you don’t lift it up, because you need a very bouncy stroke. But the first way is much more quicker and easyer to learn. „Tin“ is manly played by striking the index finger in an upwards flick motion, across the top of the Dayan on the edge of the Syahi and Chart. But you can „Tin“ also play as a softly „Tun“

Din

= „Ge“ and „Tun“ are played simultaneously.

Tin

= „Ke“ and „Tun“ are played simultaneously.