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Dhamar Tal

Dhamar is a North Indian (Hindustani) tal (or taal – rhythm cycle) as well as a style of music. It belongs to the older style of classical music called dhrupad. The length of this tal is 14 beats. In dhrupad music it is performed using the pakhawaj drum. It is also performed in other than a dhrupad setting using the tabla drums, either with the pakhavaj-style of playing, or adapted to tabla-style fingering.

In Dhrupad music, Dhamar-tal compositions are the next most important after compositions in Chautal, which is 12 beats. Dhamar compositions were mostly intended for performances at the Holi spring festival. These compositions are called Holi-Dhamar. The Holi festival is an ancient Hindu tradition that is still one of the most popular in India. It celebrates the divine love of Radha Krishna and the arrival of spring. During the festival, people smear each other with colored powders.

Kaido Singh is said to be the inventor of Dhamar Tal.

The Holi Spring Festival

The Colors of Spring: A documentary About the Holi Festival

Footage of the Holi Spring Festival in Calcutta (2009)

Dhamar Tal Theka

These are the drum sounds (bols) for the 14-beat recurring pattern that identifies Dhamar tal: 

Example Performances - Drum Solos

Two Pakhawaj drums perform in Dhamar Tal.

Pandit Suresh Talwakar performs upaj (Dhrupad & Dhamar-style improvisation) on tabla using playing techniques of the pakhawaj drum. Finger cymbals are played on +, 2 and 3 in theka above.

Example Performances - Kathak Dance

Kathak is one of the eight forms of Indian classical dances. It originated in Uttar Pradesh and is traced to the nomadic bards of ancient Northern India, known as Kathaks or story-tellers. It today contain traces of temple and ritual dances. From the 16th century onwards, it absorbed certain features of Persian dance and Central Asian dance, which were imported by the royal courts of the Mughal era.

Kathak dance today is taught in many cities outside of India.

“Urjah” – Kathak Dhamar performed by Manuela Beninni

Dhamar Tal – Guru Ashwani Nigam’s Kathak Dance Group

Dhamar - Ali Akbar Khan, Sarod & Kishan Maharaj, Tabla

Gat in Raga Prabhakali and Dhamar Tal

Three Pakhawaj Parans in Dhamar Tal

Holi Festival Song in Dhamar Tal, Raga Shahana

* Note: The two “Ni”s marked with an asterisk above them designate an “antara Ni” found in some ragas, where the approach to the high “Sa” in the antara section has a higher pitch than the komel (flat) Ni.