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What are Taalas?

The rhythm in carnatic music is referred to as Taala. The word ‘Taala’ literally means to clap in Sanskrit. Each taala has a unique structure that distinguishes it. In carnatic music, the singer maintains the count/beat by tapping the palm and fingers. The structure of the taala comprises of two primary parts (also referred to as angams) – laghu and drutham.

Laghu and Drutham

Laghu refers to portion of the taala where the count is maintained by beating of the palm on the thigh face down and the counting of fingers. The subsequent portion of the taala where the count is maintained by beating the palm face-down and then turning it face-up is referred to as Drutham. Based on the structure, the technical name is arrived at for the taala. Half of the Drutham or just tapping the palm face-down without turning it is called Anu-Druthum.


Depending on the number of counts/ aksharas in the Laghu, the taala is categorised as belonging to a particular Jathi. The Jathi categories into which the taalas are grouped are as follows:

Thisra Jathi – 3 counts

Chatusra Jathi – 4 counts

Khanda Jathi – 5 counts

Misra Jathi – 7 counts

Sankeema Jathi – 9 counts


Kaala refers to the speed at which the aksharas in the taala are used. In the first Kaala, there is one akshara used per unit of the taala. In the second kaala, there are two aksharas used per unit of the taala and so on.


The notations that we will use for denoting the structure of the various taalas in our website and products are as follows:



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