The Music Room Episode 3 | Tala Part 1

In anticipation of the world premiere of Ravi Shankar’s only opera Sukanya the Bagri Foundation presents the third episode of The Music Room, a short online film series, exploring dialogues between classical Indian and Western music.


This episode explores rhythm patterns and the structure of musical phrases in both traditions. Firstly, the opera’s conductor David Murphy explains how in Western classical music, notes are written down and grouped to form a phrase, annotating and deconstructing the score of Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s ninth symphony. He then demonstrates how the structure of the same phrases from the Ode to Joy would be rendered in Indian classical music. The notes would be grouped through a set of spoken syllables and hand gestures. This is the concept of Tala, the rhythmic cycles of Indian music. These syllables related to drum strokes have been used for countless generations to pass the incredibly rich rhythmic tradition of Indian music from guru to student.


Tabla virtuoso Raj Kumar Misra joins David Murphy to demonstrate the astounding variety of these cycles. He performs the popular 16-beat form known as Teen Taal using these syllables and hand gestures.


Check out the supplement to this video to see Raj Kumar Misra perform a piece on the tabla in this rhythm cycle.


The Bagri Foundation is delighted to support Ravi Shankar’s groundbreaking Sukanya, exploring the common ground between the music, dance and theatrical traditions of India and the West which will take place from 12 – 19 May 2017.