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That black paste is called the Shyahi and, once it is dried, it allows for sound possibilities that are not found on any other drum in the world.There are goatskin straps to hold the drum heads in place at a very high tension, and tuning blocks on the side of the drums to control the pitch.
Tabla, a set of two drums, is the modern caretaker of an ancient rhythmic tradition that is perhaps 5000 years old in a part of the world that is considered a birthplace of civilization.The larger drum, called Bayan, was originally made from clay, but is now constructed of metal (bras, steel, or copper).The Bayan is considered the bass drum of the set, but there is a tremendous range of expression possible by using certain techniques employed by a skilled drummer.The right-hand drum is called the Dahina, and is made of a seasoned hard wood and hollowed out like the Bayan.Each drum has two layers of goatskin stretched across its top to provide a playing surface.—Eric Phinney Tabla is the most famous percussion instrument of North India.
It is most commonly used in North Indian classical music, but its versatility in all musical styles has enabled it to become the most popular percussion instrument in all of India.
The top layer is cut in a circle around the rim, and the bottom layer stretches across the entire drum.
The most unique aspect of tabla construction is the application of an iron and rice paste that is placed in a circle on top of the drum head.
The Dahina is tuned to the tonic pitch of the composition the instrumentalist or vocalist is performing, while the Bayan is tuned not to a specific pitch, but to one that can easily be modulated to imitate the intricate drum language.
Both drums are played with the fingers and sometimes the palm of the hand.
I began studying tabla with a master teacher fifteen years ago after years of traditional Western percussion studies, and continue to be humbled by the tradition, complexity, and magic that are inherent in this study.