Tabla instruments are a pair of handheld drums that are popular in Indian culture. These twin drums have been around since the 18th century. Tabla drums remain the most popular percussion instrument and are primarily played in Hindustani classical music.
Indian culture reports the name “Tabla” likely comes from the word tabl, which is the Arabic word for drum. Although these drums are called twin drums, they are actually very different from one another.
One drum is slightly larger than the other and shaped differently. The smaller drum, which is called the Dayan, creates the treble and tonal sounds. The main function of the larger drum, called the Baya, is producing bass.
Both of these drums are made of clay, hollowed wood, or metal. These drums have wooden dowels on the sides and are laced with hooks and thongs. You use the dowels to tighten the drum membranes for tuning.
I hope to answer some of the questions you may have about the Tabla instrument. These fascinating drums may seem simple, but their complexity may surprise you. Hopefully, you will learn a thing or two about the Tabla and determine if you want to pick up this instrument to add to your collection.
Table of Contents
- What Are the Benefits of Learning Tabla Instrument?
- Is Tabla Easy to Learn?
- Where Can I Buy a Tabla?
- Which Tabla Is Best for Beginners?
- Bottom Line
What Are the Benefits of Learning Tabla Instrument?
Obviously, learning any instrument offers the benefit of you knowing how to play. There are many benefits to learning to play Tabla, and some of them might surprise you. The following are some of the top benefits I have discovered while learning to play these Indian drums. If you are wondering what are the benefits of learning Tabla instrument, keep reading.
- You will find playing Tabla offers a healing experience that cannot be described in words. It’s something you are going to have to see for yourself. Playing the Tabla is almost like a cathartic experience. You won’t be the same after playing these drums.
- Children and students of all ages will discover playing the Tabla helps them learn to concentrate more effectively. Playing Tabla complements a child’s studies and improves their physical fitness.
- Scientific research has proven playing Tabla and other types of percussion instruments increases brain development in the corpus callosum. This is the area of the brain that deals with your motor skills.
- Playing Tabla helps with kinesthetic development which improves your coordination and balance.
- Learning to play these percussion instruments also helps your brain and body work in synchronicity. Suddenly, all your senses begin to come alive.
- Playing Tabla helps improve your rhythm and listening skills, which will help you when playing other instruments.
- As you gain confidence in your ability to play Tabla, you also gain confidence to face other areas of your life.
- Playing Tabla helps players bond with others. Learning to play these percussion instruments is a perfect activity to bring a bond between parents and their children.
Now that you know the answers to what are the benefits of learning Tabla instrument, let’s discover more about these fascinating percussion instruments.
Is Tabla Easy to Learn?
Many people mistakenly believe the Tabla is simple to learn. After all, all you have to do is pound on them a bit and create a sound, right? Is Tabla easy to learn? The short answer to this question is no.
If you have ever played drums, you might think it will be the same to play Tabla.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. The way you strike the Tabla drums and where are very different than your typical drum.
When I started learning Tabla, one of the things many people told me is that the difficulty of the instrument depends largely on how you approach it and your level of passion. If learning Tabla makes you bored, you are less likely to keep at it and learn to master this percussion instrument.
If you are truly passionate about any instrument and put in the time, you can learn it, even if you never master it fully. The following are some tips that helped me in the learning process. If you are asking Is Tabla easy to learn, the answer might not be yes, but considering the following will make it easier.
- Learn about every aspect of the Tabla. Learn its parts and how each one helps create sound. I highly recommend doing some research and learning as much as possible about these drums. If you truly want to become a Tabla player, you need to immerse yourself into the history of this instrument and how they are made.
- Before you even attempt to play Tabla, you need to learn proper posture. You need to sit on the ground with your back straight and your legs crossed. One hand will go on each drum.
- You are going to need to learn how to play two-handed bols and single-handed bols. Learning Tabla bol takes time, patience, and practice. Try not to be too hard on yourself right at first. Your playing style will begin to greatly improve over time. Just give it time.
- You will need to learn different beats and rhythms, practicing as you go. I highly recommend finding a teacher or viewing YouTube teaching videos to help you learn the beats.
When I first started learning Tabla, I was frustrated, to say the least. This seems like such a simple and straightforward instrument, but it gets the best of you quickly.
I cannot stress it enough. Attitude is everything when it comes to playing Tabla. These are not bongos. They are not as forgiving as some hand drums.
Where Can I Buy a Tabla?
You may be wondering where can I buy a Tabla. Although this is an Indian instrument that is not all that well known, you may be surprised to learn this instrument is pretty widely available, at least in local and online music shops that specialize in eclectic instruments.
Online retailers like Amazon have a large selection of tabla instruments and also Sweetwater are both good options for finding a Tabla if you do not have a local music store that can help you out.
Before you purchase a Tabla, make sure you do your homework and choose a retailer that is going to offer a high-quality instrument. Believe me when I say this, some Tabla are cheaply made, and you do not want one of these. The sound will be terrible, and they will not last.
Another idea of how to find a good place to buy a Tabla would be to find a player of the instrument and ask him/her about a recommended retailer.
Which Tabla Is Best for Beginners?
Finding the right Tabla instrument as a beginner may seem difficult. It’s hard to know what you are looking for when you don’t know a lot about the instrument.
It’s important to remember that your very first Tabla set should be considered a long-term investment. You might think it wise to purchase a cheap set because you are unsure of whether you will play long-term. The problem with that approach is that you will start off not being able to appreciate what the best Tabla sounds like. A cheap copy is not going to encourage you to learn to play this amazing percussion instrument.
If you are wondering which Tabla is best for beginners, keep reading to learn some answers. The following are some of the things you should consider when purchasing a beginner Tabla.
- Make sure to check the quality of the wood. A good Tabla is made of sheesham or biya wood. Make sure the wood is solid and that there are no cracks. Cracked wood will not allow you to play correctly and will cause the drum to break.
- You should also consider the thickness of the vadhar. Thin vadhars are easily broken.
- You should also consider the thickness and length of the gata. It is important to ensure the gata is not too thick or too long. The perfect thickness and length will stretch the pudi correctly.
- Make sure the ghajara housing is all even. Do not purchase a Tabla that has uneven ghajara.
- You should also ensure the kinar is wide without being too wide.
- Make sure the shahi has concentric circles without any loose beads.
- For beginners, I highly recommend a pudi that is 5.5” in diameter.
- Choose a bayan that is made of brass for the richest and best sound.
- The Tabla should be round, balanced, and have a good tone.
When discovering which is the best Tabla for beginners, make sure you look for an instrument that has the above attributes. Remember that you mostly get what you pay for. A good instrument is going to offer all of the above and more.
Learning Tabla is one of the most interesting journeys you can take in life. Although this instrument is tough to master, it is not impossible. I urge you to give it a try. If you love percussion instruments, the Tabla is going to give you a sound like no other!