Tabla is the modern caretaker of an ancient rhythmic tradition that is perhaps 5000 years old. It is the main rythmic instrument in North Indian classical music, but its versatility in all musical styles has enabled it to become the most popular percussion instrument in all of India. Its music involves skillfully composed rhythmic patterns, intriguing compositions, and complex beat structures. The tabla is a highly versatile percussion instrument, which is played solo or in accompaniment with just about any musical instrument. The level of sophistication and tonal beauty it possesses has elevated the instrument to an unmatched status in the world of percussion.
The study of tabla is in the oral tradition and is a continuation of the pakhawaj repertoire, which is thousands of years old, and has developed into a supremely refined style, technique, and literature. The vast oral literature of drumming is divided into two categories, fixed rhythmic compositions and theme and variations. In ancient times, a language was developed using words called bols that were descriptive of the sounds that the drum makes. Some of these words are rooted in Sanskrit and are derived from the vibrations of the universe. Today, there are about sixteen different sounds or bols which are arranged like poetry, first in phrases, then sentences, followed by paragraphs, chapters, and then novels. These literary references are the fixed compositions that have specific names, categories, and meaning to tabla players. A person who studies tabla has to memorize an enormous number of these compositions, and they are preserved in notebooks with only the words and no musical notations. These words or bols are enough information for a tabla player to perform the music. The other technique tabla players use is a theme and variations technique which includes improvisation.
An enormous amount of practice is necessary to be a proficient tabla player. All the professional tabla players today and throughout history have been through intense training, which is why there is a very real common respect and spirituality amongst players who achieve an advanced level of performance.
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We are a very open learning environment. Please stop by to talk to one of our faculty about Carnatic and Hindustani Music, the History, the Instruments and the Teaching Methods we use to inspire our students to continue this rich musical and cultural tradition. Fill out the following form to schedule a trial class. Please feel free to call us at +1.408.833.6124 or email us at info@raagaSchool.com