Chapter 3

7. Kalai: Before going to kalai we have to understand "Ghathi" (alternate spellings are Gati, Ghati and Gathi). Ghathi are five. They are Chatusram, Thrisram, Misram, Khandam(also spelled as Kandam) and Sankeernam (also spelled as Sankirnam). Gathi is a sub unit in a tala called "mathras" (also spelled as Matras, Matharas) that forms a particular rhythm or duration of each Akshara. When each Akshara of a lagu and other angas of a tala has only one count of sub unit (for example, thakadhimi), it is called "One Kalai". When the sub unit count doubles for each Akshara of a laghu and other Angas it is "Two Kalai" and so on..... In Tamil it is known as "Oru Kalai" and "Rettai Kalai" respectively. For example, in Adi Tala, One Kalai has 8 Beats ( or 8 Counts) and Two kalai has 16 Beats (or 16 Counts).
Akshara is defined as "one main unit or Count of a tala". This one count can be a clap, turn of hand or waving the hand depending on the Angas of a Tala.
Ghathi is also known as "Nadai". So, Chathusra Nadai has 4 Matharas for each Akshara of a Tala. In the same way, Thrisra Nadai has 3 Mathras, Misra Nadai has 7 Mathras, kanda Nadai has 5 Mathras and Sankeerna Nadai has 9 Mathras for each Akshara respectively. Rendering a tala as per its Angas in full (one complete set or one Cycle) is called "Avarthana" (Alternate spelling are Avarta, Avartana).
For example, Adi Tala is 8 Aksharas. When 8 Aksharas are rendered one time fully, it is 1 Avarthana. If it is rendered twice it is 2 Avarthana and so on....
So, in Adi tala, if it is Chatusra Nadai, the total Mathras in '1 Avarthana' = 8x4=32 Mathras. If it is Thisra Nadai, it is 8x3=24 Mathras and so on....
Please Note: The definition of Akshara and Mathra given above is the one mostly used today. Some school of thought (may be old school of thought) use Akshara as the term in place of Mathra. Still there is a confusion regarding this matter with different schools of thought where, they use Akshara, Mathara, Aksharakala and Amsha interchangeably in different context and situation.

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