Talamatics Masterclass Session Level -1 & 2 by Dr Ghatam Karthick

12 Nov 2020
Date: Sept 19, 2020 | Time: 7:30-9:10 pm IST
The recording of the session can be accessed here.

Summary of the session

  • An interactive session Talamatics- Masterclass on laya and tala was conducted by Dr S Ghatam Karthick for Acharyanet. This being level 1 of the course saw Dr Karthick explain about the process of enjoying rhythm and understanding the concept of Carnatic percussion.
  • Sir started the session with the quote “Shrutir mata laya pitah” which means Shruti is the mother and laya is the father of music, be it any form or genre of music. Music without aesthetics and melodic understanding does not serve the purpose of music education.
  • The session was thrown open to the participants where they came up with questions and their views about the concept of tani avartana , what they enjoy the most in a concert, from the perspective of tala. Sir went to demonstrate some segments from the Thyagaraja Pancharatna kriti Jagadaananda Karaka, to show how the swaras can be translated to rhythmic beats in percussion to make it sound enjoyable as well as aesthetically pleasing.
  • He even quoted an example of Vidwan Palghat Mani Iyer’s accompanying style. Mani Iyer would accompany and play keeping in mind the artist whom he is accompanying. For example, for the same example, Mani Iyer would play differently when GNB rendered it or MDR rendered it. This shows the sensitivity a percussionist is expected to have in a concert.
  • Dr Karthick went on to draw parallels between the two rhythm systems of music, Indian and Western; how they differ from each other, their commonalities. In a collaborative performance, by far, the most used rhythmic cycle would be of the 8 beats. He went on to explain the subtle nuances and various tempos employed and their aesthetic values.
  • In the next segment of the session, the Ghatam maestro gave an introduction to the angas or parts of a tala or one rhythmic cycle. The participants were asked to put the 8 beat cycle for feel at ease with the tala. He also explained few technical names the talas have, how they are to be counted and how not to count them.
  • In the next segment, Dr Karthick gave an introduction to the concept of Jaatis. There are five jaatis for laghu namely Trisra (3 aksharas), Chaturashra (4 aksharas), Khanda (5 aksharas), Misra (7 aksharas ) and Sankeerna (9 aksharas). He formulated a methodology for triputa tala to start with mentioning Laghu as L, Dhruta as D. So the formula for trisra triputa would be L D D. Post this explanation, Sir asked few participants to demonstrate and show the various jaatis for triputa tala.
  • This segment was followed by an introduction to the Suladi sapta tala system. Further continuing the concept of tala anga, he added three more angas namely Guru (8 beats), Pluta (12 beats) and Kakapada (16 beats).
  • He drew parallels between the Western upbeat and Indian samam concepts. This is the pickup or take-off point which is applicable for a composition. For example, the illustration of the vasanta kriti of Sri Thyagaraja Seetamma Maayamma in roopaka tala starts on sama. He also went on to explain the concept of eduppu illustrating various compositions as relevant examples.
  • This was followed by the explanation about akshara and maatra. Akshara is the number of beats and Maatra is the internal subdivision or pulse per beat. For Example, consider adi tala of 8 beats. This goes on to say Adi tala has 8 aksharas or 16 maatras.
  • The last segment of the session saw him giving exercises to the participants to recite the basic syllable chart for all the jaatis. The basic syllable chart is as follows:
    • 1 akshara – syllable used is tom or ta
    • 2 aksharas- syllable used is taka or kita
    • 3 aksharas-syllable used is takita or dhikita or tomkita or namkita
    • The basic four syllables of percussion are: ta di tom nam
    • The last 30 minutes of the session were spent in understanding numbers mathematically, musically and from the perspective of laya. The participants were given the task of reciting various combinations of syllables for each Jaati, for example: to decode 2+3 =5 using the syllables and create their own permutations and combinations to arrive at the specified number using the syllables. The session stood true to its name Talamatics – which indicated tala is not just mathematics but aesthetics and mathematics jointly.

Quiz questions

Question No




Name of 5 jaatis in tala and their count

Trishra(3), Chaturashra(4), Khanda(5), Misra(7), Sankeerna(9)


Angas of tala and count

Laghu-depends on Jaati

Anudhruta- 1






What is the convention followed to represent laghu, dhruta and 



What is chaturasra jati triputa tala also called

Adi tala


What is the formula of triputa tala



How many beats for Trishra triputa



How many beats for Chaturashra triputa



How many beats for Khanda triputa



How many beats for Misra triputa



How many beats for Sankeerna triputa



How many beats for Sankeerna Eka



How to you decode takita ta ta ta 

1,2,3 -1 1 1


Takita dom ta ta 

1,2,3 – 1 1 1


What are the 4 syllables of percussion

Ta di tom nam


How do you say 2+3 using syllables

Taka takita



Takita taka



Dom takadimi


Four 5s (first two as 2+3 and 1+4 1+4)

Taka takita taka takita dom takadimi



Taka takita dom takadimi


2+3, 3+2, 1+4 ,11111

Taka takita takita taka dom takadimi domdomdomdomdom (usage of base sound)



Takita takita



Taka takadimi



Takadimi taka



Dom taka takita


Join all the above 4 varities to give a different groove




Musically may not be nice


2+2+3 =7

taka taka takita



Dom taka takadimi



Takadimi takita



Dom takita takita



Dom dom takadimi



Takadimi taka takita



Takita dikita nomkita



Taka takita takadimi



Takita taka takadimi



Takita dhikita taka tom



Tam tam tadiginatom


What is the word to denote speed of tala


Talamatics – Day 1 Executive Summary

An interactive masterclass session TalaMatics – Level 1, by Dr Ghatam S Karthick was conducted for Acharyanet on September 19, 2020. This is a 6-week comprehensive course which covers various aspects of Laya, approach to the rhythmic system, concept of Konnakkol and exercises in these concepts to strengthen each topic.
The first day of the session saw many rhythm enthusiasts, eager to learn from the ghatam maestro. Dr Karthick broke the ice by quoting interesting anecdotes from the life of Vidwan Palghat Mani Iyer, his style of accompaniment and his musical sensitivity when performing with various artistes.
In the first segment of the session, Dr Karthick covered the basic concepts of laya, the concept of tala, angas or parts of the tala, the approach taken towards the rhythmic system, musical aesthetics and melodic understanding. He also went on to draw parallels between the Western and Indian percussion systems to explain how the concepts were similar or different. The participants were a witness to the wonderful sense of humour that Dr Karthick has, which made the session an enjoyable learning experience.
The latter half of the session was abuzz with creative exercises for each participant. Each one was asked to adopt the concept of five jaatis to triputa tala and recite the mathematical formula using musical patterns like takadhimi, takita and so on. The excitement in the faces of the students were proof enough to show that they were already looking forward for the next session and its offerings.

Talamatics – Day 2 Executive Summary

Date:Sept 20, 2020 | Time: 7:30-9:20 pm
The second day of the session saw all the music enthusiasts waiting for the maestro Dr Ghatam S Karthick to start the session. He started off by clarifying the previous session’s doubts and went on to explain the differences between gati and nade.
In the latter half of the session, the maestro quizzed the participants by giving them mathematical challenges in the 8 beat adi tala cycle. The participants were ready to rise to his challenge and answered with zeal.
Sir also introduced the concept of Konnakkol or tongue cleaning by starting off with the 8-syllable phrase for adi tala.  He threw challenges to the participants by asking them to accentuate certain syllables, for which the participants were enthusiastically ready.
The first weekend of the 6-week long comprehensive course started off well and we all look forward to the next sessions.
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