Taal is the term used in Indian classical music for the rhythmic pattern of any composition in the theory of music.
Rhythm in Indian music performs the function of a time counter. A taal is a rhythmic cycle of beats. Indian classical music has complex, all-embracing rules for the elaboration of possible patterns, though in practice a few taals are very common while others are rare.
The most common taal in Hindustani classical music is Teentaal, a cycle of four measures of four beats each becomes 16 bits rhythm. It can be played in any tempo (speed). In Hindustani classical music a typical recital of a raga falls into two or three tempo of the music. Although the tempo changes, the fundamental rhythm does not.
- Vilambit laya (Slow tempo),
- Madhya laya (Medium tempo) and
- Drut laya (Fast tempo).
Each repeated cycle of a taal is called an avartan. The most common instrument for keeping rhythm in Hindustani music is the Tabla.