Taan means fast melodic passage / improvised vocal phrase. It originates from the Sanskrit word ‘tan’. Like an alaap (slow methodical progression of notes in a raga), it is sung in the ‘aakar’. The order mostly followed in the singing of ragas is: alaap, bolalaap, boltaan finally followed by taan. Alaaps are sung taking into cognizance raagniyam (rules of singing a composition) vadi, samvadi, swarlagaav (adherence) etc which give badhat (develop) to the rendition of ragas to create the vaataavaran (ambience) for the specific raga. The raga is always rendered in the order mentioned above. Taans are generally rendered at the end. Voice training is a must and indispensable for effective rendering of Taans. A singer who can effectively render Taans is known as a ‘Tanait’. Through the medium of Taan, a rendition can be made unique and interesting. Laya is the praan (essence / life) of a Taan. A Taan emanating from the same group of swars, can be made to sound different with bal (emphasis / stress / accentuation) on different swars. The alaap is sung in vilambit laya (slow tempo) and the Taan in drut laya (fast tempo). In Taankriya 2 , 3 ,4 ,8 swars are used in one matra to achieve Layakaari (rhythmic variation / improvisation).
Though Taans are of various types, five basic Taans are given below:
- Shudha Taan: In this Taan, in the aroha (ascending note pattern) and avroha (descending note pattern), swarprayog is used. Eg . Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sȧ Sȧ Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Re Sa or Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sȧ Rė Rė Sȧ Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Re.
- Koot Taan: This Taan has no specific order. One would encounter a combination of Mandra Saptak , Madhya Saptak, and Taar Saptak notes in its rendition. The Taans in jalad layas (fast tempos)are an artistic creation. One must be creatively endowed and possess command over notes to be able to sing the Koot Taans. eg In Yaman Raga : Ga Ḿa Ga Pa Ḿa Pa Ga Ḿa Re Ga Re Pa Ḿa Ga Re Pa
- Mishra Taan: A combined usage of aroha and avaroha swar in one Taan is what creates a Mishra Taan. eg . Ga Pa Dha Sȧ, Dha Pa Ga Dha, Pa Pa Ga Re Sa
- Sapaat Taan:This is a form of a saral (plain) or shudha (pure) Taan, which includes swaraprayog (use /employment of notes) in all the three saptaks (octaves) eg . Mạ Pạ Dhạ Nị Sa Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sȧ Rė Gȧ Mȧ Pȧ Mȧ Gȧ Rė Sȧ Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Re Sa
- Vakra Taan: It is a type of a Koot Taan .We use Vakra (zigzag) swars in it. eg Vakra Taan of Raga Gaudsarang – Nị Sa , Ga Re , Ma Ga Pa Ḿa , Dha Pa , Ni Dha , Sȧ Ni, Rė Sȧ , Dha Pa, Ma Ga Re Ga , Re Ma Ga , Pa Re Sa .