In this lesson, let’s look at some of the basic tabla bols (sounds). For all my students learning from my Tabla Video Tutors, this is your next exercise. Isn’t the Net great!
Here is an example of a tabla phrase.
Dhaa-TiTa KiTaDhaa- Ge-Naa- TiTaKiTa | Dha-Ge- TiTaKiTa DhiNaaGiNaa
Taa-TiTa KiTeTaa- Ke-Naa- TiTaKiTa | Dha-Ge- TiTaKiTa DhiNaaGiNaa
Hear how I recite this phrase. Please click here
Now click here to hear how it would sound when played on the tabla.
Notice how the vocalization weaves the rythmic passages in forming a pleasant and expressive display that imitates how a tabla would sound. This technique can be applied to any drum set. But the tabla/voice match is absolutely the best and perhaps the most well thought out than in any other drum set.
The bols can be compared to your learning the alphabets (the bols), forming from these words (bol combinations of 2, 3, 4 beats etc.), then with these words making sentences (tukadas, mukhadas, tihais etc.), weaving these into paragraphs and stories (Kaidas, Kaida prakars, gats, parans, etc). I will deal with all these and give examples in lessons to come 🙂 but the analogy will give you the idea that the vocalization of the tabla bols is very important. Your learning will be stunted if you don’t master this process. So, I will try to concentrate on this in the next few lessons.
First, let me list all the possible individual bols of each drum followed by combination sounds.
One thing to note is that the tabla bols set listed below might have variation in spellings depending who you are learning from. Being from Panjab and having learned the tabla from my father, I would place my style as a mixture of Panjab, Delhi with a touch of Banarsi. And since I had to accompany my father on numerous occasions in concerts and recordings of classical, folk, and filmi nature, I have actually boiled the tabla learning experience into a precise combination of bols that, if learned properly, will give you what I call “What you say is what you get” tabla learning.
Each bol you learn to say has a proper place for you to play it on hence giving you a no-nonsense sort of learning experience. I explain this fully in my video tutors. I highly recommend you get atleast the first three of these as your time and finances permit as it will initiate you into the technique I’m about to unleash in these lessons.
The other issue is that, as the popularity of the tabla grew, it migrated to the various parts of India giving rise to tabla bols and terminology pronuciations conforming to the various dialects. For example in Bengal the tabla bols have taken on the Bengali dialect. GhiDaNaGa might be taught as Ghedonago etc. So it is that books written by tabla teachers or students of these teacher will reflect these spellings in their publications. And this is fine but keep this in mind. Be ready and not confused, when you find a bol combination that at first glance might look alien. Upon a closer look, it should make sense. Remember there are only so many sounds you can make from this drum set so the secret is in deciphering it into a lingo more familiar to you 🙂
Ka, Kaa, Ki, Ke