In Indian music, a tal is a repeating rhythm pattern usually played by the tabla (small drums). It usually has between six and sixteen beats. The beats are grouped into small sections within the pattern. The first beat of the cycle is known as sam. It marks the beginnings and ends of improvisations so it is often accented.


Tintal is the most common tal. It has the following characteristics: (1) sixteen beats (4 + 4 + 4 + 4), and (2) four sections beginning on the 1st, 5th, 9th, and 13th beats.


It is common to mark tala by hand claps and waves. In tintal the beginning of the first, second, and fourth sections is marked by a clap, but the beginning of the third section is weaker and this is shown by a wave of the hand.


Tala are one of the key elements of Indian classical music, the others being the raga (melodic form) and drone (sustained note).