The Tablas create a distinctive recognizable sound that make them the foundation of the rhythmic patterns in Indian Music. Punjabi Folk, Geets, Ghazals and Indian Wedding music rely on the unique sound of these drums to create a special mood to the music.
The Tablas are an Indian percussion instrument used in Hindustani music and in popular Indian folk and devotional music of the India and Pakistan. The instrument consists of a pair of hand drums of contrasting sizes and timbres, one playing the treble sounds and the other bass. The term tabla is derived from an Arabic word, tabl, which simply means “drum.” The tabla is used in some other Asian musical traditions outside of India, such as in the Indonesian, Afghanistan and now commonly in the West in Yoga and Mantra Music.
Playing Tablas involves extensive use of the fingers with the treble hand (for the tabla) and palms in various configurations for the bass or bayana to create a wide variety of different sounds, reflected in the syllables or rhythms called (bols). The heel of the hand is used to apply pressure or in a sliding motion on the larger drum (bayan) so that the pitch is changed during the sound’s decay.
Historically there is a myth says that the 13th century Indian poet Amir Khusrau, the inventor of the tabla split the mridangam or the pakhawaj in two. (‘thoda, tab bhi bola – tabla’: ‘When broke, it still spoke’ – a fairly well known pun in the Indian music circles). However none of Khusrau’s writings on music mention the Tabla drum. There are Hindu temple carvings of double hand drums resembling tabla dating back to 500 BC. The tabla closely resembles a mridangam a South Indian drum cut into two.
Freedom and Leela have had over a 100 tabla players accompany them over the decades for their music performances. Here are a few images that were captured and shared with them in various parts of the world.