The Concept of Tala in Indian Classical Music
The term Tala can be understood in a broader context as rhythm, though its significance is much wider. As rhythm is fundamental to the creation of any musical system universally, so Tala can be understood as the system of punctuating our music with beats.
As rhythm always existed many centuries before the word rag was ever used, it occupies an important position in the Indian system of music.
Tala can be said to be the Indian system of rhythm and literally means "clap". Today, the tabla has replaced the clap in the performance the term still reflecting its origin.The Tala organises rhythm into a structured pattern which repeats itself in a loop continually.
There are many Talas categorised on the basis of the number of beats.
The basic concepts of tal are tali, khali, vibhag or (ang), matra , bol, theka, lay, sam and avartan.
The relevance of Tala in Indian Classical Music can be best understood as that of commas, colon, full stops and other punctuation marks in a language.