Notation systems

Throughout time, the development of notation systems has allowed musical compositions to be expressed in writing according to their grammar. This process has allowed people to store compositions and communicate them so that there was no content loss even after an extended amount of time. There are two main notations utilized while writing down tabla compositions: the Pt. Bhatkhande notation system (created by Pt. Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande) and Pt. Paluskar notation system (created by Pt. Vishnu Digambar Paluskar). 

Pt. Bhatkhande Notation System

Sum- an "x" is used below the syllable.

Taali- the number order of the taali is written below the syllable. For example, if a given syllable occurs at the 3rd taali of the taal, put a 3 there.

Khaali- an "o" is used below the syllable.

Vibhaag- The symbol " | " is used after every vibhaag

 

-If there is 1 syllable in a given maatra, such as "dha," then do not put any symbol below the maatra.

-If there are multiple syllables in a given maatra, such as "dhatitedha," then put an upward curve below the maatra.

-A pause is noted with an "S".

Examples in Pt. Bhatkhande notation system:

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Pt. Paluskar Notation System

Sum- a "1" is used below the syllable.

Taali- the number of the maatra is written below the syllable. For example, if the taali occurs at the 5th maatra, then put a 5 there. 

Khaali- a "+" is used below the syllable.

Vibhaag- The symbol " | " is used after the completion of the entire taal. It is not used after each vibhaag.

-A pause is noted with an "S".

-If there is 1 syllable in a given maatra, such as "dha," then put a horizontal line " _____ " below the maatra.

-If there are 2 syllables in a given maatra, such as "dhage," then put 2 tiny circles " ○ " below the maatra, 1 for each syllable.

-If there are 3 syllables in a given maatra, such as "takite," then put 3 squiggly lines " ∽ "  below the maatra, 1 for each syllable.

-If there are 4 syllables in a given maatra, such as "tinakena," then put 4 upward curves " ⌣ " below the maatra, 1 for each syllable.

-If there are 6 syllables in a given maatra, such as "dhagetinakena," then put 6 double squiggly lines " ≈ " below the maatra, 1 for each syllable.

-If there are 8 syllables in a given maatra, such as "dhatidhagetinakena," then put 8 double upward curves " ⋓ " (a little better looking than that lol) below the maatra, 1 for each syllable.

-A pause is noted with an "S".

Examples:

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Comparison between both notation systems

Pt. Bhatkhande notation system provides us information about the position of the taali, khaali, and vibhaag of the taal. However, if there are multiple syllables in a maatras, we always put an upward curve below it, and we can't understand the jati of the maatra or how the maatra was divided. For example, there is no way to distinguish between writing a tisra jati 1/6 maatra bol and a chatushra jati 1/8 maatra bol. We are also unable to easily deduce which maatra a particular taali falls on because the number order of the taali is written, not the number of the maatra on which the taali falls on. 

Pt. Paluskar notation system also provides us information about the position of the taali and khaali, but does not indicate the vibhaag of the taal. However, we can more accurately communciate the value of multiple syllables within a maatra as per its intricate indication system. Still, there is no provision for the 1/5th or 1/7th maatra. 

Pt. Bhatkhande notation system is the system of choice for long compositions because it is faster to write in and we don't have to worry about indicating the maatra-value of each individual syllable like Pt. Paluskar notation system. All types of jatis may be expressed in Pt. Bhatkhande notation system. On the other hand, Pt. Paluskar notation system is more useful for communicating the jati of various phrases and smaller concepts such as tigun and chaugun of various taals like teentaal and ektaal. However, it may take more time. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages. 

*For exams: While writing compositions, try to include the maatra count, which maatras the taali occurs on, which maatras the khaali occurs on, and the vibhaag of the taal. This helps to organize the notation and symbols in the actual awartan.

Examples in both notation systems:

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