Tuesday, October 27, 2009



The tabla is a popular Indian percussion instrument used in the classical, popular and religious music of the Indian subcontinent and in Hindustani classical music. The instrument consists of a pair of hand drums of contrasting sizes and timbres. The term tabla is derived from an Arabic word, tabl, which simply means "drum".

Nomenclature and construction

The smaller drum, played with the dominant hand, is sometimes called dayan but is correctly called the "tabla." It is made from a conical piece of mostly Teak and rosewood hollowed out to approximately half of its total depth. The drum is tuned to a specific note, usually either the tonic, dominant or subdominant of the soloist's key and thus complements the melody. The tuning range is limited although different dāyāñ-s are produced in different sizes, each with a different range. Cylindrical wood blocks, known as ghatta, are inserted between the strap and the shell allowing tension to be adjusted by their vertical positioning. Fine tuning is achieved while striking vertically on the braided portion of the head using a small hammer.

Tabla terminology

• Ustad - a master of the tabla technique and gharana, or school. Hindus are referred to as Pandit.
• Gharana - any of the six schools of tabla.
• Syahi - the black spots on the tabla, also called gab. Composed of a dried paste derived from iron filings and applied in several separate layers to the head of the drum. Sometimes called the shyani.
• Keenar - the outer ring of skin on the head of each of the two tabla drums. In Hindi, known as the chat.
• Sur - The area between the gaab and the keenar. In Hindi, known as the maidan.
• bol - both mnemonic syllables and a series of notes produced when stroked. E.g. Na, tin, Dha, Dhin, Ge, Ke, etc.
• Theka - a standard series of bols that form the rhythmic basis of tabla accompaniment for a given tala.
• Rela - a sort of rapid drum-roll.
• Chutta - the cushions used when placing the tabla.
• Baj, Baaj, or Baaz - a style of playing, different from the gharānā. Two main styles developed, Purbi Baj and Dilli Baj. Dilli, or Delhi, baj is the style of bols and playing that originated in the city of Delhi. Purbi developed in the area east of delhi. Both have different ways to play bols.
• Bāyāñ or Duggi- The metal drum providing the bass notes in tabla.
Dayan ot Tabla - The wooden drum providing the treble notes in tabla.
• Lay tempo.
• Tala - meter.
• Vibhag Section of a tabla taal where bols can be placed.
• Thali - A vibhag signified by a clap.
• Khali - A vibhag signified by waving of the hands.
• Ghatta - Wooden dowels used to control the tension.