Taal (Tala) is the regular rhythmic pattern of equally placed beats of any composition. The word Taal literally means ‘a clap. In Hindustani Classical Music, the Tabla is the most commonly played musical instrument to keep Taal.
Some basic terms used in Taal are:
Tali (accentuated): The pattern of clapping of hands is called Tali. Each Taal has a particular pattern and number of Talis.
Khali (non accentuated): Wave of the hands is called Khali. Khali has a characteristic relationship to Tali.
Matra: One beat or one unit of a Taal is called the Matra. It is the unit to measure Taal.
Anga/ Vibhag: The sub section or bar division of a Taal is called Anga.
Jati: The class or group of a Taal is called the Jati of the Taal. Taals are generally grouped according to the Angas. The different Jatis of Taal are :
(i) Chatusra Taal: groups of 2 or 4 beats
(ii) Tisra Taal: groups of 3 or 6 beats
(iii) Mishra Taal: group of 3 and 4 or 3 plus 2 plus 2 beats
(iv) Khanda Taal: group of 5 beats
(v) Sankirna Taal: with mixed groups
Sam: The starting matra(beat) in a Taal is called the Sam. Sam is always a Tali (clap), except Rupak Taal where Sam is a Khali (wave).
Tithai: The musical phrase sung or played thrice to arrive at the Sam is called a Tithai.
Avartan: The basic repeated cycle of a Taal is called the Avartan.
Theka: The set pattern of Bols and Angas which define a Taal is called the Theka.
Laya: The speed or tempo at the which the rhythm is played is called the Laya. Laya can be Vilambit (slow), Madhya ( medium) , Drut (fast), Ati Vilambit (very slow) or Ati Drut (very fast).
Khand: A Taal typically has Khands (columns) divided by bars. Each interval between the bars is called a Khand.