Text Box: TAAL

Class : Idiophone

              Taal is played as a pair. The String through the Betu is wound around the Middle or index finger and one half is hit with  the other to play Taal. The sound of Taal varies  with the intensity with which it is being hit. Generally in case of larger ‘Taals’ like Bhor-Taal, the heavier half is rested on one hand, and stroke with the lighter half. The smaller “ Taal’ are played according to the expediency  on the player. In Xukonnani Oja-Pali both the halves are played with one hand.

                 Taal is an instrument made of bell metal, however sometimes brass is also used. Two or more metals are alloyed ( generally copper and tin in 4:1 ratio) are alloyed, and then molded to fabricate a Tall. Sometimes silver is also mixed while molding Bhor-taal , which is believed to increase the intensity of sound produced. The middle part of the Taal is hemispherical, and this part is called the Betu, Bati or the iKhol. The part beyond the Betu is shaped like a plate, and called Paati  or Paahi. The complete ‘ Taal’ is made of the same alloy. According to the type, the weight and shape of Taal varies. A hole is provided in the  middle of the Betu to facilitate tying of a Coir or Cotton string. The Taal is hold with the help of the string while playing. In a pair of Taal, both halves are not equal, one half is slightly smaller in size so the this can be kept inside the larger half.

            The different ‘ Taal’ s presently being used in Assamese folk may be classified to following types on the merit of their uses and structure :-


Bhor-Taal : This is the largest Taal, and also known as Bor-tall, Bhot-taal etc. People believe that this Taal is a contribution of the Bhots ( Bhutiyas) to Assamese folk. However, under the patronization of  Ek-Xaran Naam Dharma of Srimanta Sankardeva, Bhor-taal has become an integral part of Assamese religious music. Bhortaal is accompanied with NaamPraxanga, Gayan- Bayan, Nagara Naam, Thiyo Naam, Boha- Naam, Bor-Dhol performance etc. In fact Bhor-Taal is the only instrument that is accompanied with Naam-Praxanga. In parts of Lower Assam, in a folk performance called ‘ Bhor-Taal Nritya ( Bhor-Taal dance) , several people dance together playing Bhor-Taal. Though differences  are observed, Bhor-Taal weighs from 2.5 kg to 6.5 kg and its diameter is between 45 cm to 60 cm. A smaller sized Taal than this is also called Bhor-Taal, used in Gayan-Bayan performances.


Paati-Taal : Paati-Taal  is quite smaller in size than Bhor-Taal and the shape is also different. It hardly has a dome ( refer to the sketch) , a small bulge is provided to facilitate fitting of the cord. Paati-taal is predominantly used in Xatras of Assam, This Taal is played with BorgeetBhaonaXariya dance and other religious music, as an accompanying instrument to Khol. In some places Paati- Taal is also known as Kherengi or Kharengi Taal .


Bihu-Taal :  This Taal is played as an accompanying instrument to Oja Dhol and Bihu Husaris. The face part of Bihu-Taal is comparatively smaller, but the dome is big and spherical in shape like Bhor-Taal. Though some people consider Bihu-Taal and Paati Taal to be the same, there are substantial differences in shape and size between them.

Khuti-Taal : Khuti Taal is the smallest Taal. The Diameter of Khuti Taal in approximately 3 inches, and the Betu or the Dome draws out up to the end of the Pati or face. Wall thickness is comparatively more than other Taals. Khutia-taal is mostly played in Oja-Pali performances in the Lower Assam. However, its shape and playing style varies according to the form of Oja-Pali.


Manjira : Manjira looks like a Bati or a semi spherical cup, it doesn’t have a Pati ( Face) . Manjira is accompanied with Khol and Bhor-Taal, in different religious musical performances. ‘ Manjira Naam’ , where  Manjra is the only instrument accompanied with, is a significant form of regional Assamese folk Music.


                      Apart  from the types mentioned above, several Taal like instrument are found to be used in Assamese folk music such as Kori-Taal, Kor-Taal, Khanjari etc. But because of substantial differences in construction and shape, they are described   specifically at relevant places in the website.

             Taal is a percussion instrument used in  a pair, is made of bell metal. Taal has a widespread and varied use in Assamese folk music. Taal s of different sizes and shape are used in almost all forms of  folk music of the region. Exact time and history of Taal being introduced to this region is not known, however, from its mention in Malitas of Dhol and several folk songs, prove that Taal is being used in Assamese folk for quite some time now.   Taal, being  an integral part of religious music of Assam,  has an esteem of its own among the people. Though Taal is  an ancient musical instrument, during the period of Mahapurush Sankardeva, Taal has been elevated to a  very respectable musical instrument.  In the Sorit Puthis ( Ancient literature about life and works of Mahapurush Sankardeva and others), it is mentioned that Gurujona himself called for metal workers and had Taals to suit his requirement. Unfortunately, several types of Taals earlier used in Assamese folk music are extinct now.  


             The tribes of Assam also  used different varieties of Taal in their indigenous folk music.  These  varieties of  Taal are known as Jotha among the Bodos, Sengso among the Karbis, Lupi among the Missings etc.

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