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Topic: OT: A Tabla Correspondences or Workaround Needed

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  1. #1

    OT: A Tabla Correspondences or Workaround Needed

    Given the amazingly deep and diverse group that frequents these forums I have some hope that someone here can help me with an esoteric little challenge.

    I am studying tabla and there seems to be a mismatch between the names of the boles (strokes) used in the book I'm studying and the names of the boles used in the sample set. There may or may not be some missing boles. For example there is no Tin in the sample set so how can I play Tintal? May be there it is there but called something different. Or maybe there is something that is close enough to at least approximate the various thekas. In any case...

    The book I am studying lists the tabla boles as: NA, TIN, TIT, TA, TI, RI, THA, and TUN.

    It lists the bayan boles as: GA, DHI, GHE, KA, THI, and (asperated) GA.

    My sample set does not identify which drum plays the sample. It includes: DAH, DAM, GA, GE1, NAL, NAM, TA, NAL2, NAM2, TA2, TUN1, and TUN2.

    There isn't much overlap. Are they using different names for any of the same sounds? Can anyone provide me with some correspondences or suggestions about where to look?

    Thanks.

    Chet

  2. #2

    Re: OT: A Tabla Correspondences or Workaround Needed

    First, what's your sample set, and from what developer? Also, equally important, what is your study source? I know if two, and one is correct (at least in the schools I am aware of. I studied Hindusthani Classical music for three years, initially tabla with Alla Rakha for a few weeks until circumstances and schedules changed and I was unable to continue, and later (and much longer,) I studied sarod with Ali Akbar Khan. My knowledge outside of this school and those I have on CD or record is woefully incomplete, but for the basic tabla bols and thekas I can speak fairly knowledgably.

    I don't have any tabla multi-sample libs, and depending on who recorded them, the bols may well be listed wrong, or completely off the wall - one sample set was played by a western percussionist who 'just hit the drums,' sometimes with drumsticks...

    There is a book with accompanying cassette available from the Ali Akbar College bookstore, Alla Rakha (Ravi Shankar's tabla player till his death a few years ago) teaches the basics, with audio examples. That is the definitive source. Match the sounds of the samples to the sounds of the cassette, or hopefully the bols with the book.

    But the bols in your book are correct. The sample set I only recognise about half the bols, either my ignorance, their labeling, or, perhaps Karnatic? South Indian? Otherwise, it's either a translation error (what'd he say? I dunno, sounded like Nam) or sombody other than a tabla player playing them.
    Dasher
    -------
    It's all about the music - really. I keep telling myself that...

  3. #3

    Re: OT: A Tabla Correspondences or Workaround Needed

    IMHO, Swarplug badly misrepresents the genre. Not enough details, articulations or layers. Generally a flat lib, not much character. Reminiscent of early sampler libs, like old Akai stuff.
    Dasher
    -------
    It's all about the music - really. I keep telling myself that...

  4. #4

    Re: OT: A Tabla Correspondences or Workaround Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by thesoundsmith
    IMHO, Swarplug badly misrepresents the genre. Not enough details, articulations or layers. Generally a flat lib, not much character. Reminiscent of early sampler libs, like old Akai stuff.
    Can you recommend anything that would cover the same instruments but in much greater detail? I'm interested in all of the Indian instruments, not just the Tablas.

    Matthew

  5. #5

    Re: OT: A Tabla Correspondences or Workaround Needed

    thesoundsmith

    I was introduced to Indian music back in my college years and love it a lot. I've read bits and pieces of things about it off and on over the years and have tried to adapt some of the ideas (in however a rudimentary way) to my own compositions and and improvisations (I am a guitarist with a pretty strong background in modal jazz). It is quite a thrill (and humbling at the same time) to talk to someone who studied with people whose music I've enjoyed over the years.

    The tabla sample set I have is in the world percussion samples included in RM IV from Linplug. The developer of the samples is not listed and to be perfectly frank I wasn't expecting much when I tried them. They sound pretty good to my uneducated ear (and certainly much better than I expected). That pleasant surprise sparked a trip to the music collection of the central public library here where I was pleased to find a short book--perhaps workbook is more accurate (54 oversized pages)--that seemed to be a comprehensible introduction.

    The workbook I am studying is Tabla: A Rhythmic Introduction to Indian Music by Donald Robertson (1968). It provides a basic introduction to the mechanics of play and then discusses rhythm patterns using tintal. It then goes on to provide brief descriptions, including thekas, of 17 other talas. My understanding is small and the information basic but I hope to be somewhat less ignorant after working through it. And Alla Rakhas book is the obvious one to follow with (if and when my understanding is great enough).

    I will e-mail Linplug and see what they have to say about the samples. I guess I am not expecting much at the moment but we will see.

    Regarding the swar library: is it in your opinion complete enough for learning (or perhaps less incomplete than the alternatives)? I would at least like to have a library with a complete set of basic boles. It need not be perfect. I would be able to learn quite happily on a correct subset of adequate fidelity that was complete with respect to the basics even if it was incomplete with respect to the subtleties and nuances and not up to modern levels of sound quality.

    I am also interested in other instruments as well since I wish to study ragas as well. Any reccommendations would be appreciated. By the way, at the same time that I found the Robertson workbook I also found a similar workbook called Traditional Indian Melodies for Sitar by Harold Schramm (1969). It includes a brief discuss of the raga as well as a transcription of the melody. It is again a pretty basic workbook but a place to start deepenning my knowledge. Any suggestions for books on this subject would be greatly appreciated as well.

    Thank you very kindly

    Chet

  6. #6

    Re: OT: A Tabla Correspondences or Workaround Needed

    Vipin

    Thank you for your information. I hope to learn about tabla and ragas for my own pleasure and to perhaps use some analog of the ideas in my own compositions and improvisations.

    Chet

    PS: I enjoyed your question about jazz and the discussion it generated.

  7. #7

    Re: OT: A Tabla Correspondences or Workaround Needed

    In your situation, I would get the books I mentioned above, and the tabla tape. The information you have may or may not be accurate (it sounds like it is, but with Ala Rakha's tape and book combo, you get to hear it correctly as well as get some understanding of the fundamentals. Also, you can be sure it's accurate.) Also George Ruckert's books are pretty much straight from the guru's mouth; in the three years I studied with Khansahib, two in the advanced class, he never discussed this level of information, so these are valuable materials.

    I assume you don't live in Northern California (I moved here in 1968 to join the school, and if I could have found a way to support myself that I could stand, I'd still be there.) The Ali Akbar College of Music in Marin has ongoing classes for beginning to advanced students, you can check them out here.

    Vipin, Zak rules! The last time I saw him in was with Shivkumar Sharma; santur is not my favorite instrument for classical raga, but a very fun evening. Before that, he accompanied one of the Dagar family in an evening of druphad - very deep
    Dasher
    -------
    It's all about the music - really. I keep telling myself that...

  8. #8

    Re: OT: A Tabla Correspondences or Workaround Needed

    thesoundsmith

    Thank you for the link to Ali Akbar College, the references, and the good advice. I will be benefiting from it all.

    I've always liked the way Indian music plays with time and rhythm and look forward to gaining a deeper understanding. And I believe that studying other traditions can help me understand western music: for example the discussion of thekas in Robertson workbook is very similar to discussions I've heard about how Bach ties the Goldberg Variations (in his case with a bass line.) In any case...

    Thanks for the your assistance.

    Chet

  9. #9

    Re: OT: A Tabla Correspondences or Workaround Needed

    Glad to be of help, Chet. But you said:
    the discussion of thekas in Robertson workbook is very similar to discussions I've heard about how Bach ties the Goldberg Variations (in his case with a bass line.)
    I've never thought to look for relational similarities between the cultures, but music is fundamentally mathematical, so it seems logical that the evolution of the processing would sometimes be coincident (I was going to say 'parallel each other', but they would be congruent for only a moment, and in a few years, have diverged again.)

    And of course what Zakir is doing today, playing with many different kinds of groups, is cross-fertilizing some of the most exciting rhythms and structures known into other dynamic musics - jazz, Western classical, Eastern European, other world musics. Keeping the music alive. Several other San Francisco Bay Area Indian musicians play regularly (a few times a year) with hybrid bands, and there is a regular concert scene in a couple of East Bay towns - not 'the city,' but local, neigborhood kinds of affaires. Some lesser-known - but very good - talent shows up at some of these concerts.

    Look up India Currents magazine, select a geographic area and find out what is going on in that area (it's a free subscription in the US.) They keep an extensive calendar: spiritual events - yoga, Hindu temple activities, etc. and entertainment - dance, film, music, etc. for those involved in the Indian culture and community. If you live or visit one of these areas (they cover some of the major markets, but not the whole US) you can find teachers, concerts, record stores, etc. If you want to learn to hear theka and tala with Indian ears, you need to understand the rhythm of the culture.

    Sorry if I'm proselytizing, but I've been playing music for 57 years and only three of those were raga, and I miss it. I'm an aficianado out of water. (Don't steal that for a song title, it already is one... )

    There are other musical forms that have emotional depth, power and charm, but for me, none moves me like Ali Akbar Khan playing Chandranandan, not even Coltrane's A Love Supreme or Lonnie's Lament .

    So good luck with your pursuit, and thanks for the structural idea. You've made me look at the cross-cultural link in a different fashion that has some great potential.
    Dasher
    -------
    It's all about the music - really. I keep telling myself that...

  10. #10

    Re: OT: A Tabla Correspondences or Workaround Needed

    Dasher

    Thanks for the kind words and good wishes. And thanks for the wealth of information and references. I will indeed by following up on them.

    It is a pleasure to talk with someone who sees and appreciates the same sort of cross-cultural musical analogies and structures.

    Best wishes

    Chet

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