Tabla Theory

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How to take care of your Tabla and Maintain it? 

Ang – Any style of playing is called Ang. Examples Gaayaki Ang, Pakhawaj Ang

Bol – The words or phrases for the Tabla or any instrumental music is called Bol. It is like the alphabets of a language. Examples – Dha, Ge, Te, Na, Ka

Avartan (Cycle) – This is the complete count of the beats in a Taal. Example – 16 beats in Teen Taal, 8 in Keherwa, 6 in Dadra. An Avartan would be the complete Cycle from one Sam to another

Chakradhaar – Chakradhaar is a Tabla composition which is played three times in its entirety from sam to sam. It also includes a tihaee. It may be thought of as three tihaee cascaded together to match the sam

Chaugun – A laya or tempo that follows 4:1 pattern (quadruple time)

Dohrana – The first variation of a Kaida is termed as a Dohrana, where the first half of the Kaida is repeated twice followed the Kaida till the Kaali and similarly followed in the Kaali part.

Dugun – A laya or tempo that follows 2:1 pattern (double time)

Gharana – This means family, clan, school or Type of performance. We have the following Gharanas – Delhi, Lucknow, Ajrada, Punjab, Benares and Farukhabad for Tabla Gharanas.

Kaida – It is a well defined and structured composition. Kaidas are rules and cannot be changed. From Kaidas, we can make variations called Paltas or Vistaars.

Kisme – Kisme is a variation of the Taal Theka.  The Taal structure remains the same, only the bols change.

Khaali Khali usually is the mid-point in the cycle of the Taal, which is opposite of Bhari or Taali. Instead of a Taali (or clap) it is denoted by waving of the hands

Khand – Groups of Matras in a taal is called Khand. The same number of matras can be grouped together differently to produce different taals. An Example would be Jhap taal and Sool Taal that both have 10 matras, but Jhap Taal is grouped as 2,3,2,3 and Sool Taal is grouped as 2,2,2,2,2

 Khula – Reasonating or open sounds

Khuli-Mundi – khuli (open left hand drum section) and mundi (closed section)

Bandh – Closed sounds

Laggi – Laggi is a fast lively style of playing tabla bols in light Indian music e.g. bhajans, thumris, gazal, etc. Laggis are commonly played in Taal Keherva & Dadra

Laya – Laya refers to speed by which the sounds or strokes are played. Example – Vilambit, Madhya, Drut, Ati-Drut

Matra – Matra refers to beat/beats in a taal. Example – Teen taal has 16 matras

Mohra – The mohra (tail piece) used to reach the Sum (starting point of a bandish) should be specially composed and not a part of a kayda or rela.It should preferably cover not more than one avartan,It should not be a kayda or a chakradhar.Use of pakhawaj notes such as ‘titakatagadigana’are useful

Mukhda – In simple language, this means the face. It is the phrase that leads to the composition. Its normally a Short phrase that ends in a Tihai

Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande – (August 10, 1860 – September 19, 1936) was an Indian musicologist who wrote the first modern treatise on Hindustani Classical Music

Rela – Comes from the word “Rail” means fast. A fast rendition of Tabla composition that follows specific, shorter structures

Sam – This is usually the starting point of a Taal/Theka. It is usually played either louder or made as attractive as possible.

Sangeet – In its most general sense, it’s synonymous to “music”. It is the ideal mix of Geet (song / singing), Vaadhya (instrumental music) and Nrutyam (dance), makes the definition of “Sangeet”

Saptak – An octave or register is defined as Saptak in Indian Music

Theka – A Theka is a Predetermined and a widely accepted composition consisting of Bols/Varnas of tabla representing different Khands/Divisions of a Taal. Hence Taal is an Abstract form, whereas Theka is the concrete Audible form. A taal remains unchanged, whereas a Taal can have many Thekas.

Tigun – A laya pattern that follows a 3:1 pattern (triple time).

Taal – Taal is a set a beats. Example 16 beats in Teen Taal, 8 beats in Keherwa. Taal consists of Taali/Kaali/ Khands/ Sum.

Taali/Kaali – While performing the taal padhant, Taali refers to clap and Kaali to an empty hand or Wave. There can be 2 successive Taalis, but never 2 successive Kaalis.

Tihai – A composition which contains a set of beats that is played 3 times with equal spaces between the repetitions. A tihai normally ends in a Sum. Bedam, Damdaar, Chakradhaar are some types of Tihais

Tukra/Tukhda – Like a Mukhra, the Tukhra also ends with a tihai, but this is played later in a performance

Vibhag(Khand) – Vibhag (or Khand) is the measure that signifies a sub-division within a Taal cycle. Each clap or wave specifies a particular section or measure. These measures may be of any number of beats, yet most commonly 2, 3, 4, or 5 beats are used.

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