Carnatic music uses various classification systems for the specification of Thaalams. The Suladi Saptha Thaalam system, since the time of Purandaradasa (1484-1564), has become most famous and universally accepted as the standard, while others such as the Chaapu, Chanda and Melakarta Thaalam systems are also in use.
Suladi Saptha Thaalam
According to the Suladi Saptha Thaalam system, there are seven families of Thaalams, each of which incorporates a Laghu which varies according to the Jaathi of the Thaalam. The Dhrutham and Anudhrutham (if they are part of the Thaalam) have two and one units respectively and are constant. Each of the seven Thaalam can incorporate one of five Jaathis.
The default Jaathi of each of the seven Thaalams is shown below. When not defined the Nadai (or Gathi) of the Thaalam is always Chathushram.
A Suladi Saptha Thaalam cannot exist without reference to one of the five Jaathis. So, depending upon the Jaathi, the units of the Laghu varies. And the Jaathi of the Thaalam is determined by the Jaathi of the Laghu. Also, depending upon the Jaathi of the Laghu, the Adcharam of the Thaalam vary.
For instance, the Thiruputai Thaalam has the following Angkams – one Laghu and two Dhrutham and symbolically I O O. Now, if the Thiruputai is Thishra Thiruputai, the Laghu will have three Adcharams [ I3 ] and the Thaalam will have seven Adcharams [ I3 O O ]
If the Thaalam is Kanda Thiruputai, the Laghu will have five Adcharams [ I5 ] and the Thaalam will have nine Adcharams [ I5 O O ]. Thus the seven Thaalam in combination with the five Jaathis gives rise to the thirty five Thaalams used in Carnatic music.
The name of the Jaathi and Thaalam loses the last "m" when joined to form the full name of the Thaalam e.g. Thishra Jaathi Dhruva Thaalam.
The thirtyfive thaalam is displayed below in a table format. The default Jaathi of each of the seven Thaalam is highlighted.
Hundread and seventyfive thaalam
The Suladi Saptha Thaalam can be further expanded, according to the Nadai (or Gathi). This forms the hundred and seventy five Thaalam, which are collectively termed the hundred and seventy five Thaalam chakram. The below is a summary of number of Adcharam (beats) and Maathirai (sub units) of each of the hundred and seventy five Thaalam.
The Chaapu Thaalam are a group of Thaalams that predates the simplified Suladi Saptha Thaalam. The Chaapu Thalams have been in use since Tamil Sangam times and has been widely used as in Saiva hymns.
The below table summarises the 5 Chaapu Thaalams, unconventional Angkams have been used to make it easier to describe the hand movements. U U is two swift Anudhrutham, i.e. beats with the palm facing down. n n is two swift beats with the palm facing up. Both U U and nn represents 1.5 Adchara Kaalam (beat durations).
The Chathushra Chaapu Thaala has become obsolete as it’s simply the clapping of the hand. This has been replaced with Chathushra Eaka Thaalam or Aathi Thaalam.
Asthtottara shata (hundread and eight) thaalam
The below is the sixteen Angkams that are used in the hundred and eight Thaalams of which 5 are tabulated below (Click on the this to obtain the full list).
Shodasha Angkam (or Sixteen Angkam) used in the 108 Thaalam are explained in detail in sub section 4 of the components page.
The 108 Thaalams can be viewed by clicking on the table below or a PDF format is downloadable in the downloads page.
Desathi and Madhyathi thaalam
These Thaalams will have eight Aksharams per Aavarthanam (cycle). In the case of Desathi Thaalam, the song will start from 3/4th beat of the Veechu and in the case of Madhyathi Thaalam, the song will start from the 1/2th beat of the Veechu.
Navasanthi Thaalam (other spellings: Navashanthi Thaalam, Nava Shandi Tala, Nava Santhi Thaalam, Nava Shanthi Thaalam), are group of Thaalams that relate to the nine junctions, resting places, or shrines. The nine resting places are associated with the nine Sannithi (shrines) of the Saiva/Hindu temple and are associated with the nine Thickbalagar (directional demi gods), Brahma, Inthiran, Agni, Yaman, Niruthi, Varunan, Vaayu, Kuberan, and Eesanan who are said to reside in these sections as to guard and protect the temple.
These Thaalams were used during the Bramhostava period. Typically the Naathaswaram and Thavil will be accompanied by Bharathanatiyam dancers who move clockwise around the temple from central, to north eastern positions. Nine Ragams are played in each section set to the Navasanthi Thaalam so as to pacify the residing deity. Since the introduction of Suladi Saptha Thaalam system these Thaalams are rarely used.
Aparoopa Thaalam is of two type, one arises due to speed variation and the other due to Nadai variation.
Speed variation : The conventional Thaalams will have a only single speed per Aavarthanam. But in this type of Thaalam all the three speeds constitute an Aavarthanam (cycle). Thrikaala Thishra Eakam is an example for this.
Nadai (or Gathi) variation: In conventional Thaalams, the same Nadai will be used throughout the cycle. But in this type of Thaalam, it will not be so. The Thaalam will have more than one Nadai within a cycle. Pancha Nadai Thaalam which has all the five Nadais in it is an example for this type of Thaalam.
Seventy two melakatha thaalam
These share the same name as that of the 72 Melakatha Raagam and have been classified accordingly. These are very unconventional and are rarely used. It is given here information only.
The 72 Melakatha Thaalams can be viewed by clicking on the table below or a PDF format is downloadable in the downloads page.