I have mentioned in the past that rhythmic cycles or taals in Hindustani music may have the same number of matras, but are structurally different or use distinct strokes to establish their individual identities. Over the past two weeks, we heard tracks featuring Jhaptaal, a rhythmic cycle of 10 matras or time-units. Another 10-matra cycle that is used primarily by dhrupad singers is called Sool taal.
Interestingly, the same taal is also called Soolfakta, Surfak or Surfakta by some, although in certain instances the theka or basic skeletal framework of syllables used to represent the rhythmic framework differs. But the distribution of matras across vibhaags or bars is the same in most cases (2+2+2+2+2).
Here is a short video of Umakant Gundecha, one of the Gundecha brothers popular for their dhrupad renditions, explaining the structure of Sool taal.
Umakant and Ramakant Gundecha sing a composition in the raag Yaman set to a fast-paced Sool taal. Pushparaj Koshti plays surbahar with them. They are accompanied on the pakhawaj by Akhilesh Gundecha and Manik Munde.
Noted dhrupad singer Uday Bhawalkar sings a composition set to Sool taal in the raag Des. He is accompanied on the pakhawaj by Sukhad Munde.
While Sool taal is rarely heard, there have been some occasions when tabla players have employed this taal for solo recitals. For instance, here is a recording of renowned tabla player Shamsuddin Khan playing a solo in the 10-matra Soolfakta. The theka is quite different from the ones used by pakhawaj players. In fact, it is an adaptation of the Ektaal theka.