The tabla, also known as jori, is a pair of drums played during Sikh worship services which include kirtan, the singing of sacred hymns. The tabla establishes the rhythm and provides the beat, or taal, for the ragis, musicians who play a variety of instruments including the vaja, or harmonium, and various kinds of string instruments such as the dilruba.
Tabla sets generally consist of:
- Bayan - a large round bass drum.
- Dayan - a slender wooden treble drum.
- 2 Heads - made of goat hide in small and large sizes, one for each tabla drum.
- Puddis - "patties" sit atop the head to affect sound quality, and are either dry prefabricated colored with black ink, or freshly handmade from moist atta and natural colored.
- Fasteners - leather lacing strips or steel bolts strap heads to drum bodies, and are tightened, or loosened for tuning.
- Tuning blocks - wooden cylinders used with leather lacing to tune the head to desired pitch.
- Tuning hammer - a metal hammer used to tighten or loosen blocks having a handle with a flattened end for prying or adjusting the head.
- Cover - ties in place to protect the tabla head.
- Cushion - a heavy ring to hold the tabla steady when played.
- Case - fitted to carry or store the tabla set.
Bayan, or bass tabla, is available in wood (dhama / jori), or a variety of metals including stainless steel, copper, and brass. The bayan may be plain or embellished with intricate designs.
Dayan or wooden treble tabla is carved from hardwood such as Rosewood, (a.k.a. Jag, Sisu, Sheesham Tali) and may be plain, but is often decorated with ring designs carved around the drum base.
Tabla stands between 10 to 12 inches tall with the bass bayan tabla being about the same thickness as it is tall, and the treble dayan wooden tabla about half the thickness as it is tall. Each tabla weighs between 4 to 12 lbs (2 - 5 kg), with the smaller wooden dayan usually being the heavier of the two.
The large bayan, and small dayan, tabla heads each come in a variety of increments especially fitted for various sized tabla bodies. Round tabla covers come in in two sizes fitted to the heads. Cushions may be the same size, or two different sizes with the larger made to support the bass bayan tabla, and smaller to be used to support the wooden dayan tabla. The tabla and all accessories can be carried in a fitted nylon bag, or a rigid case which is tapered to fit the different sized tablas. Overall weight may range from 25 up to nearly 40 lbs.
- Kartal Resources
- Baja and Vaja, Instrument
- Standard and Deluxe Portable Harmonium Resources
- Learn Gurbani Kirtan Book DVD CD by Bhai Manmohan Singh: Review
(Sikhism.About.com is part of the About Group. For reprint requests be sure to mention if you are a non-profit organization or school.)