BASIC INFORMATION ON TABLA
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BASIC INFORMATION ON TABLA
Tabla is regarded as the queen of drums and percussion
instruments and is the most popular Indian rhythm instrument.
It consists of two drums, the Bayan (big bass drum) and
the Dayan.The two of them are almost always played together.
Both the two drums as a pair and also the Dayan on its
own - as opposed to the Bayan - are called Tabla.
drums have a body that is closed at the bottom. The open
top is mostly covered with a goat leather skin. To the
edge of this basic skin, a second skin (Kani) is attached.
In the centre of the skin is the so-called GAB: a black
area which gives the instrument a special sound and makes
the variety of sounds and modulations possible. It is
a fine art to apply this GAB in the correct mixture, consistency
and strength of a paste which consists mainly of rice
flour and iron filings. When playing, the two drums are
placed on rings (Bira) which support them. The tuning
wedges that are held by leather straps at the sides are
meant for tuning the instrument. Depending on whether
the wedges are beaten upwards or downwards by the tuning
hammer, the sound gets lower or higher. A fine tuning
is done by beating with the tuning hammer on the woven
ring around the skin.
playing technique requires a differentiated fingering
in connection with the complex composition of the skin
membranes. The combination of the two drums produces an
incredible fullness and details of different rhythm structures
and this fullness of expression is unmatched by any other
The skins of the Tabla are likely to wear out and have
to be changed from time to time, depending on how often
the instrument is played and what kind of conditions it
is exposed to. Even when the instrument is very old, it
can, when the substance i.e. the wooden body is o.k.,
be restored to a wonderful instrument by a new skin. This
task should generally be done by an expert.
Bayan takes on the bass part of the drum duo. The body
of the Bayan is mostly made of chrome-plated copper. The
Bayan is played by the index finger and the middle finger
of the left hand in turns or with both fingers simultaneously.
While doing this, the ball of the thumb rests lightly
on the edge of the skin or modulats the pitch by slightly
pressing the skin.
THE DAYAN OR TABLA
Dayan is made of different types of wood. Please see the
explanations on this topic in the next paragraph about
the meaning of the wood regarding the quality of a Dayan.
It is customary, especially in Kolkata, to hollow out
the inside of the body of a Dayan relatively roughly.
The tuning wedges that are held by leather straps at the
sides are meant for tuning the instrument. Depending on
whether the wedges are beaten upwards or downwards by
the tuning hammer, the sound gets lower or higher. A fine
tuning is done by beating with the tuning hammer on the
woven ring around the skin. The size of a Dayan is defined
by the diameter of the skin. Sizes of 5 to 6 inches are
in use. The standard sizes are about 5 1/4 inches to 5
1/2 inches whose tuning is around C. The measurements
can also be given in centimeters. The tuning of a Dayan
depends on the skin diameter. The smaller the skin is,
the higher is the sound of the Dayan; the bigger the skin
diameter, the lower it can be tuned. Specially low or
high Dayans are played together with corresponding high
or low melody instruments.
TYPES OF WOOD FOR TABLA AS QUALITY FACTOR
are different woods which Dayans are made of. The most
used and well-known types of wood are Shisham, Neem, Mahagony
and Babla Wood. Basically it is not possible to choose
a good Dayan only from the kind of wood it is made of.
Of course the wood is important for the continuous sound
of a Dayan but also other factors such as the quality
of the skin, the quality of the Gab and of course the
manufacturing are important. When the manufacturer chooses
the wood, then 1st priority is that the wood is completely
dry. As the situation in India is that the manufacturers
of Tablas have worldwide orders for many months, they
do not get enough good wood. They send abroad whatever
they can get. The wood very often is not dry enough. This
is a very big problem.
important factor is the density of the wood depending
from which part of the tree the wood is taken (upper or
lower portion of the trunk) or if the wood is taken from
a thin trunk. The thick trunk, which is the good wood,
mostly is used for the furniture industry specially if
it's a valuable wood like Shisham or Neem. This results
in the fact that it is mostly better to use a good dry
wood with good density from a no-name wood instead of
a well-known wood as Shisham or Neem. It needs a well
experienced person to evaluate what really is a good wood
for good sound in a Dayan. It can be the case that one
gets a Shisham-Dayan which signals that it is a good Dayan,
and finally it turns out that it is a terrible Dayan.
can be seen that the name of the wood, which a Dayan is
made of, does not really give an objective evaluation.
Sometimes a no-name wood of a Dayan which is completely
dry, has a fantastic density, a good skin and gab and
is made by a good experienced and reliable maker, is much
better than a precious wood.
we would like to mention below some of the types of wood
that are well-known and much in demand:
Is first of the much sought-after kinds of wood, but
it is absolutely necessary that it really comes from a
thick trunk with a good density, otherwise Shisam wood
is not good at all.
Also a very popular wood. Must also come from a thick
trunk, otherwise it splits over the course of time. If,
however, it is really taken from a thick trunk and has
been completely dried, then even a split that forms in
the course of time, does not influence the good sound
Is of a similar quality as Neem and reacts in the
same way as Shisham wood.
of the Five Star Quality
Due to the great efforts of Tabla Maestro Sajal Karmakar,
we always get best quality of wood for the making of the
five star Dayan. He looks for the right wood himself and
even though he already buys the best available wood, he
dries it himself for several months in a special procedure
only to make sure to get high-quality professional instruments.
DER TABLAHERSTELLER SARGAM
was founded in 1964 and is among the most important
Tabla manufacturers. They supply the individual components
of the Tabla to most of the other Tabla makers in Kolkata.
This was made possible by the tireless efforts of the
owner Kamal Kumar Das (Kundu Babu). The Tablas made
by him have been played by many great Tabla masters
such as Ustad Ahmed Jan Thirkwa, Lt. Pt Gnan Prakash
Ghosh, Lt. Pt. Santa Prasad, Pt. Kisan Maharaj, Lt.
Ustad Afaque Hussain, Lt. Ustad Keramatulla Khan, Pt.
Sankar Ghosh, Pt. Syamal bose, Lt. Ustad Latif Ahmed,
Ustad Nizam-Ud-Din etc., etc. His Tablas have been supplied
to the Ali Akbar Khan Music College, among others, for
many years. Sargam exports Tablas to Japan, Germany,
France, England, Italy, America, Bangladesh, Austria,
Belgium and Greece.
- The Five Star Quality
of our offer has an unmatched, outstanding Tabla quality,
which can only be achieved by the tireless efforts of
our Tabla master Sajal Karmakar. Please read the information
in our offer "Five
TABLA MAKER NARAYAN BADYA BANDHAR
This is also one of the best Tabla makers in Kolkata.
It is a family business in the third generation. They
produce the Tablas very carefully and with a sense of
detail and achieve an excellent quality concerning the
Tablas. World-famous regular customers such as Anindo
Chatterjee or Swapan Chaudhuri guarantee the quality
of the Tablas from this firm. Also other drums and percussion
instruments such as Pakhawaj, Mridangam, Khol, Dholak,
Kanjira, etc. are manufactured by Narayan Badya Bandhar
in excellent quality.
For repairs we can recommend the German
Tabla Site most warmly. The website owner has
an extensive know-how and repairs all Tablas himself
with an extraordinary love of the instrument, with expertise
and circumspection. For everybody who wants to try by
himself to change the skin we deliver a DVD which shows
thourogly how a tabla maker in India is changing the
skin. If you order a skin for Tabla and want us to send
you this DVD please mention it togehter with your order.