It is the term used in Indian classical music to refer to any rhythmic beat or strike that measures musical time. It is typically established by hand clapping (tali) , waving (khali). While a taala carries the musical meter, it does not necessarily imply a regularly recurring pattern, beats are hierarchically arranged based on how the music piece is to be performed.



In Indian classical music, time is called kaal.To structure kaal, tal is divided into parts called bhags. Each individual part or Bhag is called a Vibhag.


A raga is a melodic framework for improvisation. It is the equivalent of a melodic mode in Indian classical music.


The beats within each rhythmic cycle are called matras. Different taals have different numbers of beats or matras. Most commonly used taals will be in the range of 6-16 matras.


The first beat of any rhythm cycle (taal) is called the sum. It is the strongest beat in the rhythm cycle, and it is matched with the most prominent syllable in the melody line, rhythmic consistency in this one syllable is enough to make the performance coherent.


The standard sequence of beats that defines a taal in its simplest form is called theka. Simply put, this is the manner and words used to recite taal.


In music, composition of time in equal periods is called laya (rhythm). Alternatively, laya refers to the musical tempo. It has three main types: Vilambit (slow), Madhya (medium) and Drut (fast).


Teental is the most commonly used taal in kathak and in classical music since it has a very symmetrical structure  against which performances can be laid. Teental has 16 matras, divided into 4 bhags, such that each bhag has 4 matras. The first beat is the sum and the 9th beat is called khali, wave (meaning empty). To count the Teental, the audience claps on the first beat, claps on the 5th beat, then waves on the 9th beat and lastly again claps on the 13th beat; these three claps  give the rhythm its name. Teen is the Hindi word for three. The theca for the taal is given alongside. X marks the sum. 2 and 3 represent the tali, and the 0 is the khali. 


Jhaptaal is the second major taal you will come across in Kathak.

Jhaptal is a 10-beat pattern used in raga exposition. It has ten beats in four bhags of 2-3-2-3 matras each. To follow the taal, one must clap on matras 1, 3 and 8 and wave on the 6th count.

Series of Claps and Waves: clap, 2, clap, 2, 3, wave, 2, clap, 2, 3

Other taals


Dhamar has 14 matras, grouped asymmetrically into a 5-2-3-4 pattern.
(Ka dhete dhete dha, ka teens teena ta)


Dadra has 6 matras, divided into 2 bhags. Each vibhag has 3 matras.
(Dha Dhin Na, Dha Tin Na)


Keherva has 4 matras divided into 2 bhags. Each vibhag has 2 matras.
(DhaGe NaTi, NaKa DhiNa).


Ektaal has 12 matras divided into 6 bhags. Each vibhag has 2 matras.
(Dhin Dhin, DhaGe TiRaKiTa, Tu Na, Kat Tin, DhaGe TiRaKiTa, Dhi Na)

Pancham Savari

Pancham savari has 15 matras, grouped asymmetrically into 4 bhags of 3+4+4+4.
(Dhi na dhidhi, Kat dhidhi nadhi dhina, tikr tina tirkit tuna, katta dhidhi nadhi dhina)

Ada Chautal

Ada chautal has 14 matras divided into 7 bhags. Each vibhag has 2 matras.
(Dha tirakita dhi na, ti na, Kat ta, tirakita dhin, na dhin, dhi na)