Indian classical music has been fascinating the western world for many years. The tabla in particular has influenced and attracted the attention of a number of aspirants in the country as well as many American and European percussionists. It has been used in popular music as early as the 60’s and can be heard in popular media even today like in bollywood music. However, many percussionists may shy away and make distance from this art. The reasons for not getting into it are varied. Sometimes it is the lack of instruments, teachers or a belief that it is just too difficult to learn. This article will address the concerns of a person just to get started with this instrument.
Hindustani music is one of the oldest traditions in the world. Although the mechanics and technicalities of music have undergone tremendous changes over a period of time, the essential characteristics of respect and devotion have remained unchanged. The method of learning is to learn from a “Guru”, not from books or online videos available these days. The strong bond between teacher and his/ her disciple is considered essential for continuation of the musical tradition. There are two systems of classical music in India, northern and carnatic found in southern India. The northern Indian music comprises of tabla popularly known as Hindustani music.
In Tabla, the word ‘taal’ means clap. Clapping of hands may be the oldest form of rhythmic accompaniment. Most fundamental unit is ‘matra’ or beat. Next higher level of structure is ‘vibhag’ which in western music can be referred as ‘measure’ or ‘bar’. This brings us to the concept of overall cycle called “avartan”. If one is playing a 16 beat structure or “taal”, one must maintain that structure throughout. One can learn, evolve and become a performer or a trainer after attaining knowledge in terms of fundamental’s and technical’s aspects. One can form a performing band of any genre and can also work in recordings in the studios these days after learning. Skills based on knowledge are very much required to grow in the industry. Skills, if associated with knowledge and practice, can do wonders as it has done with artists like Zakhir Hussain, Pt. Samta Prassad, Kishan Maharaj, Ustad Ahmad Jaan Thirakva etc.
This article has just been a brief overview about this majestic instrument. To strengthen one’s ability and performance a person needs to learn tabla from a good guru or trainer available at prestigious organisations and colleges present as they know what exactly one needs while starting this journey to attain success.