The Prarambhik tabla exam is an elementary level exam meant to introduce the basics of tabla. It helps the student understand basic definitions and introductory compositions.
Maatra- A maatra is a medium of measuring the taal. It is the smallest whole unit or "beat" of a taal. Each taal has a set number of maatras, and each maatra is of equal length. Example: Teentaal has 16 maatras of equal length. In literal terms, maatra means "part".
Taal- Taal refers to a system of rhythmic pattern in Indian Classical Music. Rhythm is a fundamental concept for music. While there a various types of taals, with different characteristics and number of maatras, songs, instrumental compositions, and dance compositions in Indian Classical Music are established in a certain taal. This way, taal is a technique of measuring time in musical compositions.
Sum- Sum refers to the first maatra of the taal. In other words, it is a beginning. The main function of the sum is to establish a point of resolution or emphasis. In theory, it represents a "restart" of a cycle of taal.
Taali- A taali can be represented by the clapping of hands during recitation of a taal. It represents the starting maatra of a bhari, or packed, division.
Khaali- A khaali can be represented by taking your hand away or striking with the back of your hand during recitation of a taal. It represents the starting maatra of a khaali, or hollow, division.
Taali and Khaali are ideas that represent the first maatras of multiple divisions, or vibhaags, of a taal. They are useful when presenting a taal on hand (Hasta Kriya).
Vibhaag- Vibhaag, or khand, are divisions made within a taal as per the khaali and bhari (packed and hollow) components of a taal. A vibhaag can be of even or odd number of maatras, and different taals may have different vibhaags. For example, teentaal has 4 vibhaags of 4 maatras each (4+4+4+4) whereas rupak has 3 vibhaags of 3,2,2 maatras (3+2+2). In other words, vibhaags are subsections made within a particular taal.
Dugun- Dugun is when a phrase is played two times, at twice speed, within a certain time interval. Whenever 2 maatras are played within a time span of 1 maatra, it is considered dugun.
Awartan- An awartan is one cycle or rotation of a particular composition. In tabla, if a composition is played once, from sum to sum, one awartan of that composition is played. For example, one awartan of teentaal will be of 16 maatras, whereas two awartans of teentaal will be of 32 maatras.