Akshara and matraMy friend and long-time co-contributor to Sruti, B.M. Sundaram, has raised the confusion prevailing in the minds of musicians as well as the public on the use of the terms ‘akshara’ and ‘matra’ (see Sruti Box, Sruti 283). The few books available on tala schemes add to the confusion and there does not appear to be a convincing old treatise on the subject.

It is customary to talk of a tala containing a specific number of akshara-s which are further subdivided into matra-s. My guru, Palani Subramania Pillai used to mention, while talking of ‘eduppu’ or ‘graham’ of a line in a kriti, as one or 1-1/2 akshara before or after the ‘sama’, depending on whether it was …read more