In the final episode of our series on taals that are seldom heard on the Hindustani concert stage, we feature Brahma taal with a rhythmic canvas of 14 matras.
Music educationist Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande’s famous compilation of compositions entitled Kramik Pustak Malika (six volumes) has a lakshan geet in the raag Vrindavani Saarang that includes a description of this taal.
Usually, the song-text of a lakshan geet contains the description of a raag and can be used as a pedagogic tool to explain the characteristic features of a raag to a novice in a manner that is musically accessible. In this case, the lakshan geet begins with a description of the structure followed by Brahma taal and later moves to information about Vrindavani Saarang.
According to this song-text, the 14 matras of this taal are divided into vibhaags/khands, ten of which are demonstrated with a clap.
I have yet to come across tabla players who use this taal for accompaniment or for solo recitals. But here is a short presentation of the skeletal framework of this taal by pakhawaj exponent Arjun Shejwal.
Pakhawaj maestro Raja Chhatrapati Singh presents a short solo in Brahma taal. He demonstrates the manner in which the ten taalis or claps and four khalis or unstressed divisions appear across the cycle. As per this demonstration, it appears that each of the matras is a separate division, which is rather unusual in a taal.
We end with a vocal recital featuring Gokulutsav Maharaj, an exponent of khayal and a scholar-musician of the Haveli Sangeet tradition from Vaishnav temples of northern India. The text accompanying the track mentions that the composition created by the vocalist in Mia ki Malhar. This raag, traditionally associated with the monsoon, is set to Brahma taal, which has 28 matras.
However, upon listening to the theka or string of mnemonic syllables played on the tabla to represent the taal, it appears that the rhythmic canvas is spread over 14 matras. The theka is also different from the one employed by the pakhawaj players featured on the previous tracks.
One of India’s leading tabla players, Aneesh Pradhan is a widely recognised performer, teacher, composer and scholar of Hindustani music. Visit his website here.
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