General fundamentals on Tabla

Zakir Hussain with the tabla, zakir Hussain Tabla photos

About Tabla:

The Tabla is a pair of twin-handed Indian subcontinent drums. Tabla is also frequently performed in popular and folk music performances in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka. The Tabla is also an important instrument in the Bhakti devotional traditions of Hinduism and Sikhism, such as during bhajan and kirtan singing. It is one of the main qawali instruments used by Sufi musicians. Tabla is also used in dance performances such as Kathak.

The name tabla possibly derives from tabla, the Persian word, and the Arabic word for drum. The musical instrument’s ultimate origin is disputed by scholars, although some trace its development from the indigenous musical instruments of the Indian subcontinent.

The table consists of two small drums of slightly different sizes and shapes. Each drum is made of hollow wood, clay, or metal. The smaller drum (data) is used to make treble and tonal sounds, while the larger drum (bayan)’s primary purpose is to produce bass. They are laced with hoops, strings, and wooden dowels on their ends. Dowels and hoops are used to tighten the tension of the membranes to tune the drums.

The playing technique is complex and requires intensive use of fingers and palms in various positions to produce a wide range of different sounds and rhythms expressed in mnemonic syllables.

Basic strokes of Tabla

Tabla’s repertoire and techniques borrow many elements from Pakhavaj and Mridangam, played sideways using one’s palms.

These drums’ physical structure also has similar components: the smaller pakhavaj head for the Dayan, the naqqara kettledrum for the bayan, and the versatile use of the dholak bass. Tabla is played from the top and uses “fingertip and hand percussive” techniques that make for more complex movements. The rich language of the table consists of the permutations of some simple strokes. These basic strokes are classified into five key categories:

1. Bols played on the Dayan (right/treble drum)

o Na

o Ta or Ra

o Tin

o Te

o Ti

o Tun

o TheRe

2. Bols played on bayan (left / bass drum)

o Ghe

o Ga

o Ka, Ke, or Kat

3. Bols played on both the drums in unison

o Dha

o Dhin

4. Bols played one after another in a successive manner

o Ti Re Ki Ta

o TaK = Ta + Ke

5. Bols played as flam

o Ghran

o TriKe

Talas of Tabla

Tala determines the musical meter for the composition. Groups of matras characterize it within a given time period. Talas is made up of simple components, cups. They’re played in repetitive loops. The beginning beat of each cycle is known as Number. This beat is also represented by a special symbol like ‘X.’ This is the most pronounced loop. Other accentuated parts of the tala represented by Taali (clap), while Khali (empty) sections are played in a relaxed manner. Separate sections or stanzas of the tala are called Vibhagas.

Three main types of tempos or layas are used in playing Tabla talas:

1) Slow (vilambit) or half-speed,

2) Medium (Madhya) or reference speed, and

3) Fast (drut) or double speed.

There are several talas in Hindustani music. Teental or Trital is one of Tabla’s most common tala. Some of the famous Talas in classical Hindu music include:

1) Teental

2) Jhoomra

3) Tilwada

4) Dhamar

5) Ektal and Chautal

6) Jhaptal

7) Keherwa

8) Rupak

9) Dadra

Tabla Gharanas

Tabla gharanas are responsible for creating several new bowls, signature playing techniques, compositional styles and rhythmic structures. Gharanas has served as a way of maintaining these styles amongst generations of tabla players.

The different Gharanas in Tabla:

Delhi Gharana

Lucknow Gharana

Ajrada Gharana

Farukhabad Gharana

Benares Gharana

Punjab Gharana

Benefits of learning Tabla:

1. Playing Tabla can help students develop academically; it can boost students’ ability to focus and complement their studies in math, science, language arts, history, and physical fitness.

2. Scientific research has shown that playing music, and thus drumming and playing percussion, enhances the production of different brain regions, including the corpus callosum, motor, and auditory cortexes.

3. Drums and rhythms can be the best experience and inspire flow participants of all ages.

4. Drumming is a soothing art that can offer a greater sense of wellbeing to people of all ages.

5. Students’ physical strength is enhanced by hand drumming (and frequent involvement in any form of percussion play).

6. Drumming helps students learn graceful coordination and self-control. Drumming increases body sensitivity and kinestic development.

7. Playing rhythms increases the ability to listen and to concentrate children and teens for longer durations.

8. The improvement in rhythmic ability and the learning of any instrument increases students’ confidence in general.

9. Playing rhythmic music allows students to note nature and the surroundings’ rhythms and beauty.

10. Drumming in group formats, including drum circles, bands, and orchestras, give credit to teamwork and coexistence.

11. Drum circles are great ethnic and cultural bridges; they harmoniously bring diverse people, instruments, and musical styles together.

12.If parents play or become involved in their children’s musical and learning processes; drumming can be a way of establishing positive links between parents and children.

Which is the best mode to learn Tabla?

When you find a local teacher to meet, it’s the best choice. If the location isn’t perfect, the instructor will direct the fingers physically. Learning from a true professional table teacher who knows how to teach his students and express this knowledge is invaluable for anyone who dreams of learning Tabla over a lifetime. It really works, and it works only. And it’s still got it.

However, you should not avoid studying tablary if you do not have an instructor nearby. Hundreds of students study and successfully do Tabla online. There is, therefore, no justification why you cannot. Online students hit good standards in practice over the years with consistency.

In some cases, the first preference could be online:

• No local professor.

• Local teacher timing does not correlate to work/college due to the day.

• You want to learn various types of compositions.

The time required to learn Tabla

The correct answer will be an eternity. Both forms of music are so vast that their studies are never ended. However, if you wish to accompany or play on your own a particular musical instrument, consistent practice is required for 6 to 9 months.

Is there any age to learn Tabla

The optimal age typically starts from age 7, or the child should stay for a minimum of 30 minutes in one position and follow directions. When One of 73 years old who hadn’t known how to play Tabla, learned bhajans within 3 months. In reality, you can start online and get some confidence before going to a local teacher when you feel awkward, sitting in a class full of children.

It depends — whether you practice the right way — on your ultimate purpose.

To be accompanied by some music should be necessary a concentrated and correct half-hour practice every day for six to nine months. You need to put at least 3–4 hours of dedicated practice every day if you want to be an expert.

The tabla. Tabla Tabla Tabla Tabla.

Ustad Zakir Hussain

Popularly known as the Tabla Maestro, Ustad Zakir Hussain is arguably the most famous Tabla player of our country in the post-independence era. Over the years, he has performed with many talented musicians in India and across the world. He became a famous international celebrity after taking the sounds of Tabla to many international festivals and shows. This eventually flooded him with opportunities to work in many international movies as well. This led to the creation of brilliant fusion works, which was new to both Indian and overseas audiences. Overall, his contribution to popularizing Indian percussion is immense.

Since he was a popular name in the US while still young, he collaborated with western musicians and remained that way. He mostly worked with American bands. His partnership with the famous band, ‘The Beatles’, deserves a special mention. He also recorded with an American psychedelic band ‘Shanti’ in the year 1971. In 1975, he worked with John McLaughlin in the band ‘Shakti.’ This band had John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain, L. Shankar, T.H. ‘Vikku’ Vinayakam, and R. Raghavan. ‘Shakti’ was disbanded by the late 70s. However, the band was reunited a few years later by the name ‘Remember Shakti’ with new members’ addition. The revived band released many albums like ‘Saturday Night in Bombay’ and ‘The Believer.’ They also performed in the 38th Montreux Jazz Festival. Zakir Hussain released his first solo album ‘Making Music’ in 1987, which was proclaimed to be one of the most inspired East-West fusion albums ever.

Ustad Zakir Hussain is considered one of the most important personalities in shaping the contemporary world music movement. He is often credited for taking the Tabla to the world stage, thanks to his numerous collaborations. He also showed to the world that Tabla, which was considered a mere percussion before his era, could be used as the main instrument at concerts. This belief that he instilled in many changed the way we looked at concerts. His achievements as a Tabla player-inspired many aspiring percussionists and opened the doors for many Indo-Western collaborations.


· Padma Shree — He was awarded the Padma Shree by the Government of India in the year 1988, thus making him the youngest percussionist ever to receive this award.

· Padma Bhushan — In 2002, Zakir Hussain became the youngest percussionist to be honored with India’s third-highest civilian award.

· Indo-American Award — This award was given to him in the year 1990 for his cultural contribution.

· National Heritage Fellowship — In 1999, Zakir became the proud recipient of America’s most prestigious honor in the field of traditional arts.

· Sangeet Natak Akademi Award — This award was given to him by the President of India in 1991. He was one of the youngest musicians to have ever received this award.

· Grammy — He was also awarded the Grammy for the album ‘Planet Drum’ which was produced and created by Zakir Hussain and Mickey Hart. This was his first-ever Grammy. He won his second Grammy during the 51st Grammy Awards for his album ‘Global Drum Project’ under the category, Contemporary World Music Album. For this project, he had collaborated with Mickey Hart, Giovanni Hidalgo, and Sikiru Adepoju.

· Kalidas Samman — In 2006, the government of Madhya Pradesh honored him with this prestigious award, which is given to artists with exceptional achievement in their respective fields.

· Lifetime Achievement Award — In 2012, at Konark Dance & Music Festival, he was honored with the Guru Gangadhar Pradhan (lifetime achievement) award.

Pandit Anindo Chatterjee

Anindo Chatterjee is an Indian tabla player from Farukhabad Gharana. He was born into a musical family. His uncle Pt. Debiprasad Chatterjee is an eminent sitar player of this country. His younger sister Smt. Keka Mukherjee is a leading sitar player of AIR and is also well known for her solo performance. He is a disciple of Pt. Jnan Prakash Ghosh.

Gifted with an ability to summon crystal-clear melodies from his drums, Anindo Chatterjee evolved into one of the world’s greatest tabla players. The director of the Farrukhabad Gharana of Tabla, founded by Haji Vilayat Khan Saheb, Chatterjee, continues to give a new voice to his instrument. In addition to solo performances and recordings, Chatterjee worked with sitar players Nikhil Banerjee, Imrat Khan, Budhaditya Mukherjee, and Rais Khan, Pt. Ravisankar, Ustad Sahid Parvej Pt. Manilal Nag, sarod players Buddhadev Das Gupta and Ali Akbar Khan, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Tejendra Narayan Majumder, flutist Hariprasad Chaurasia; santoor player Pandit Shivkumar Sharma; and vocalists Pandit Mallikarjun Mansur and Gangubai Hangal.

Inspired by his uncle, Pandit Biswanath Chatterjee, Chatterjee began playing tabla at the age of five. Studying briefly with Ustad Afaq Hussain Khan of the Lucknow Gharana, he advanced to Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh, whom he studied for three decades. The recipient of the prestigious President’s Award in 1970, Chatterjee became the first table player to perform in the House of Commons 20 years later. He performed at Rashtrapati Bhavan when U.S. President Barack Obama visited India in November 2010. Chatterjee received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for 2002.


Tabla is a couple of Indian twin-handed drummers. A big weapon in Bhakti’s devotional Hindu and Sikh traditions. One of the Sufi musicians’ major qawali instruments. The name tabla may come from tabla, the word Persian, and the word drum in Arabic. Scholars are disputing the true origins of the musical instrument. Some trace its creation from the Indian Subcontinent’s indigenous musical instruments. The hollow wood, clay, and metal are made of each drum. The performance technique is complex and involves heavy use of fingers and palms in various positions to create a wide variety of sounds and rhythms articulated in mnemonic syllables.

Community drumming, including band, ensemble, and drumming styles, credits team-work and coexistence. Drum circles are wonderful racial and cultural bridges, bringing disparate people together harmoniously.