Talas are the rhythmic patterns used for accompaniment and solo performances in North Indian classical music.
There are said to be 364 different talas. The wheel below shows the most common rhythmic cycles. It gives an example of how the bols (literally "words"), or strokes, are spoken; how the talas are played on tabla or on the pakhawaj; and how the cycles are clapped. The divisions within each tala provide a very useful framework for the instrumentalist, vocalist and drummer. The use of the symbol + represents the sam (pronounced "sum"), or the first beat, the 1, of each cycle. A composition is not considered complete until it ends on the sam. For example, if you are counting in rupak, 7 beats, a complete cycle will be counted, 12345671. You would never end on the seventh beat.
Some common talas/rhythmic cyles:
Click the play button to load the tala wheel