Introduction to Tabla

With a civilization dating back to vedic times,it is but natural that India has been able to evolve and develop a vast variety of musical instruments – wood-wind, percussion and stringed.Music is firmly interwoven in its social fabric, and no social or religious assembly can do without it, it is a unique feature that all these instruments have stood the test of time and are relevant even today.

Only in the case of a few instruments, certain marginal changes have been made. Tabla is the most popular and sought after percussion instrument. A must in music and dance.Made out of seasoned shisham,vijaishar or neem wood, it is covered with parchment
with the permanent black paste in the center. The “BAYAN” meaning the left wing is also covered with parchment and black paste slightly off center.It is fastened with leather braces.

About its origin

The origins of tabla are a matter of speculation for musician. The Delhi school consider that the word came from “TABL” (Persian word), while the banaras school think that it is related to “Mirdang”(another percussion instrument). Some historians are of the opinion that ustad Sidhar Khan Dadhi was the originator of the instrument; Others are convinced that Amir Khusrau should be created as the originator of the tabla.

One wishes that scholar in the past had left some incontrovertible evidence regarding origins and originator of tabla. Many scholars are of the opinion that when Khabbe Hussain Dholokia when to participate in a musical concert at the
famous Mridang (Pakhawaj) player Kudam Singh or (Kudau) singh’s house, the latter sliced off his fingers with a sword.Then Khabbe Hussain produce musical sounds by playing on his right hand with the left and vise versa. Kudam Singh was enchanted with the pleasent notes.Not only this, Khabbe Hussain spilt the Mridang into two, made the two parts stand independently and played on them separately, but unison.Even then musical notes emanated, making Kudam Singh exclaim, “Tab bhi bola” (Even then it speaks). Whatever the truth behind this legend, it establishes the fact that Tabla originated from another similar musical instrument, that is, Mridang(Pakhawaj).

  • Ustaad Sidhar Khan's Contribution
  • Popularity
  • The notes of Tabla have there historic origins in Mridang, Nagada,Dholak, Khajri, Tansa and dance. While adopting these notes it was observed that the resounding sound produced on a dholak with twisted palm cannot be produced on a Tabla until its left part is also covered with a permanent black parchment as its right counterpart.Keeping this in mind, Sidhar Khan applied parmanent black parchment on the dagga instead of a dough paste.He is thus credited with this innovation on the tabla. All this leads to the conclusion that around the sixteen century the pakhawaj was split into two in order to produce musical notes.

    These two parts were called Tabla.But it was left to Sidhar Khan to improve and improvise upon this innovation after which Mia Khusro Khan used this percussion instrument in classical music.

  • Expanding its scope beyond Mridang, tansa, nagada, dholak and dance, Tabla offers limitless possibilities to a musician today. Tabla is capable of providing accompaniment to all types of songs as well as musical instrument today,whether it is Dhrupad, Dhamar, Khayal, Bhajan, Gazal, Geet or dance. This percussion instrument is all encompassing, which accounts for its popularity and widespread used today.
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