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 LESSONS in Indian Music

Tabla Lesson 1

The Tabla doesn't need any introduction as a percussion instrument. It is probably the most popular percussion instrument in India. It is one of the highly advanced percussion instrument of India and is used extensively in varied musical styles for accompaniment. Be it Indian classical, Folk, Fusion or Rock, the tabla can be seen on the stage or can be heard on the recordings very often.

The tabla has been used background music in one of the Sir Alfred Hitchcock's blockbuster movies. In India tabla is used for accompaniment and interestingly Indian music will be the only type of the music to have solo performances of a percussion instrument! And these concerts can go on for even few hours!

Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pandit Swapan Chaudhari, Pandit Anindo Chattarjee (who's tabla samples are in our product - SwarShala), are some of the living maestros of the instrument from India. And even there are many westerners who are learning and blooming into good Tabla players.

About The Instrument

The 'Tabla' basically consists of two vessels and a few accessories. Tabla or Dayan, is generally on the right side of the player. And Dagga or Bayan which lies on the left side of the player. Tabla or Dayan The Tabla is made out of a hollow wooden vessel basically open at one end. Then covered with some type of skin on the other. The cylinder is little conical in shape. And the broader part always goes down to make it more stable; while upper end or the opening of the vessel is covered by a special skin. This skin is a specifically processed one. This skin is tightly fitted on the top of the vessel.


It is tightened by a small wooden block called as 'Gattha' or 'Gudri'. This drum - Tabla is the smaller of the two, and produces sounds in the higher register.

A lot of skill goes into the making of a Tabla. It is possible only for the skilled workers to make a good tabla. This right part The Tabla is made from a high quality wood in which an air column stands. The skin of the tabla is tightened by a slim leather strip called as 'wadi'. Exactly in the center of the 'tabla' is 'Shai'. This is a medium sized circle in black colour. This 'shai' is a mixture prepared with baked iron powder, gum and coal tar.

The Tabla comes in various sizes and can be pitched to different scales. The size can vary from 6 & 3/4 inches to 3 & 1/2 inches in diameter. Dagga or Bayan The Dagga is made of metal like copper or aluminum. In cities like Banaras or Calcutta, there are Bayans made up of clay! The Dagga gives low pitch sounds. This Bayan is much bigger in size as to produce the lower register sounds. These two things together make the 'Tabla' And with the combinations of the bols produced from these two instruments various sounds can be produced which are called as the bols.

Tabla : Lesson 1 Lesson 2 Lesson 3 Lesson 4 Lesson 5