5 September 2006


This one's for Advitya.

There's one particular bol or sound that comes from the tabla that is kinda special for me. Its called the thaap. Its a sound that takes LOTS of practice to produce. It happens when all five fingers of the right hand strike the tabla such that the force of the impact is focussed on the lav. (There are three parts to the tabla's surface - the middle black circle called the 'syahi', a first concentric band called the 'lav', pronounced 'love', and the outer rim or concentric circle called the 'chaanti) The impact is akin to a slap. The sound is a deep, resonating one that lasts longer than other, more usual sounds.

The cool thing is that not every tabla player can do it. In fact, the thaap is traditionally used only in the benaras gharana. (A gharana is a style of playing. There are six styles - delhi, lucknow, farukhabad, ajrada, benares and punjab) The reason is probably that the benares gharana is closest in playing style to the pakhawaj, the instrument from which, according to some, the tabla evolved, and which regularly employs the thaap. The pakhawaj is much more open/loud/aggressive than the tabla, but within the tabla, the benares gharana is the loudest/most open/most aggressive.

So, it gives me great pleasure when I am performing after some other tabla player to flaunt the thaap with gay abandon, knowing fully well that the other chap is most likely incapable of doing the same.


  1. Yayyyyy! Thanks! Now I remember!

  2. hi saatvic, being a tabla player myself- i totally envy your pleasures of playing the 'thaap'. unfortunately though, not every gharana has it - in fact dilli(which i play) has such a weak two-finger version of it, that it looks a fake replica of the banaras gharana:)
    nice blog, btw!

  3. amir khusrau ne pakhaavaj ko beech se kaatkar tabla banaya tha na?