WHAT IS TABLA?
basic overview of the instrument
Tabla is a pair of 2 drums originating from India and is played with the hands. It is an essential percussion instrument within Indian Classical Music, and is performed in the form of solos as well as accompaniment with other instruments, singing, and dance. While Indian Classical Music is an art form which has existed for thousands of years, tabla is a relatively new instrument with origins likely being a few hundred years ago. Tabla is an instrument that requires extensive practice and knowledge. As Indian Classical Music spotlights improvisation and creativity in the observation of musical rules, tabla players use several components of imagination, mathematical patterns, and logical variations in order to compose astonishing percussion. As a result of various schools and lineages of thought within the world of tabla, different styles have contributed towards both a diversification and more recently unification of tabla as different techniques have merged into one common practice today.
Tabla follows the idea of taal, or a cycle of a set number of beats. Within repeating cycles of a taal in various designated speeds can exist different compositions, both fixed ones and ones that can be expanded through the help of various variations. With a content-filled dictionary of vocabulary, sharp consonants as well as resonating vowels are used to make bigger arrangements.
Descriptive knowledge of percussion instruments was available from the Vedic times. This information and conceptual framework was used for the research and development of tabla. Bols of past percussion instruments such as the pakhawaaj were used to develop new tabla bols, which created new thekas and compositions. The reasons for the establishment of tabla included factors such as sound quality and flexibility of application. Today, learning tabla is a more accessible process compared to other instruments because of the diverse body of students and teachers, making it a very expansive field of knowledge.