A peshkaar is an expansionary and improvised composition played in vilambit laya. It ends in vowel phrases such as "tin na" and "dhin na" and is used to unfold the taal at the beginning of a solo performance. A peshkaar shows a tabla player's expansionary process and understanding of taal.
Peshkaar means "pesh karna," or to present. It utilizes the essence of naad from both the daya and baya in order to experience the taal from different angles using different bols and patterns.The Peshkaar presents an opportunity for the tabla player to take a lot of liberty to improvise within the taal. The peshkaar may show the vibhaag/divisions, khaali, and bhaari components of the taal. In general, the chronological order of tabla has been adapted from that of vocal singing. The performance laya starts from vilambit all the way to ati-drut.
When considering a human lifestyle, the body needs a warm-up phase or interval in order to adapt to changes (such as weather, time changes, different behavioral patterns, etc). Following this need, peshkaar serves as a “warm-up” for the workout. Tabla in itself is a both psychologically and physically intensive instrument. This “warm-up” is a good exercise to prepare for the powerful kaydas and relas that may be played later. Peshkaar is a culmination point of intelligence, deep thinking, deep theoretical study, riyaaz, bol clarity, and aesthetic all at once, and thus is a valid point of introduction for the solo. Ut. Alla Rakha Khan said that peshkaar is like "pej katna," or cutting the rope of a kite.
Not all the rules that apply to kayda are applicable to peshkaar. For example, almost all bols in tabla can be played within Peshkaar. However, "tite" is usually not played. Laya, jati, points of emphasis (wazan), khali/bhari, etc are all kinds of aspects that can be implemented in peshkaar. Although the composition may be similar to kayda, peshkaar has more room for spontaneous improvisation. Unlike a kayda, the distance between maatras has a very big importance in peshkaar. Peshkaar should be learned under the guidance of a capable guru. It requires a lot of personal thought, experience, and maturity. Some stalwarts are able to judge a tabla player’s candidacy simply by his peshkaar. A traditional peshkaar should not be memorized, but rather spontaneously “thought of” within the constraints of music and with an organizational, sensible pattern.
A peshkaar mukh in the Delhi Gharana usually starts with dha, while a popular theme in the Farukhabad Gharana starts with “dhinSkdadhina” and has gained prestige due to the works of Ut. Ahmed Jaan Thirakwa. In Delhi Gharana peshkaar, whenever a design is produced in the peshkaar and a different laya is explored (such as 1.25 or 1.5), even then, the composition will ultimately end in the original laya. It will usually end in equi-tempo even when other patterns were explored. In the Farrukhabad Gharana peshkaar, bols such as "dhinSkda," "dhatit," "ghidan," "trake," "KTTK," and "tinetinakena" can be found. They utilize various kaydas in the peshkar in order to enhance the entertainment value.