Matra

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Classical Music

Matra

Matra in Sanskrit is unit of any measurement. In music, it is the basic unit of time measurement. The actual time duration of a matra depends on the speed of the rhythm i.e. Tempo. The term Laya is also used to denote tempo. Usually three tempos are important – Vilambitha or Vilambith (slow), Madhyama or Madhya (medium) and Dhrutha or Dhruth (fast). Even faster tempos are used during solo percussion performances or with instruments, though with vocal music, only one the above three are used. The actual time duration of a matra depends on this tempo. Even then, the duration varies considerably depending on the artists. In actual practice it has been found that the range could be as wide as 10 matras per minute (i.e. 6 seconds per matra) is ati vilambit laya (very slow tempo) to more than 720 matras per minute (i.e. less than 0.08 seconds a matra) in ati dhruta lay.