The Language of the Tabla

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Each movement or position of the hand on the tabla produces a different sound and has a specific name or syllable (these are called 'bols').

These 'bols' -like for instance: Dha, Dhin, Dhum, Ge, Ta, Te, Re, Ra, Kat, Ka, Na, Ne, and many others- can be combined to create complex sound combinations.

For example Dha + Ge becomes Dhage, Te + Re + Ke + Te becomes Terekete, Dhin + Ta + Ra + Ne becomes Dhin-tarane etc.
By making use of all possible combinations possibilities the tabla player creates a musical poem in which he expresses a variety of moods.

Depending on his specific style he may use some 'bols' more and others less in his performance.

tabla bols.  CBDV

The Positioning of the Fingers and the Hand

Below you can see a few simple tabla 'bols'. On the right side are the ones for the Bayan (left drum), at the left side those for the Dayan (right drum). At the upper and lower part you see combinations for both hands.

Move your mouse over the Hindi syllable to see a picture appear in the middle with the corresponding position -according to the Benares style- of the fingers and hand(s).
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        Ta Dha Dhi        
   ta, Hindi scriptdha, Hindi scriptdhi, Hindi script   
Na na, Hindi scriptte, Hindi scripttere, Hindi script moving fingers.  CBDV ka, Hindi scriptge, Hindi scriptghe, Hindi script Ka
Te Ge
Tere Ghe
   dhin, Hindi scriptdin, Hindi scriptdhet, Hindi script   
      Dhin Din Dhet      

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Related Pages ...

Links to pages in 'The Instrument' section. The current page is indicated by two dots before the name.

back to the instrument Technical information about Sandip's principle instrument the tabla.
back to art of playing Traditional learning process and the art of playing the tabla.
back to style of playing Different styles of playing the instrument.
two dots current page, tabla language Examples of tabla 'bols' and hand/finger positions
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