Chapter 2 : How to sit with the tabla

How to sit with the tabla: The first lesson of learning an instrument, is learning the way to hold it properly. Holding the instrument incorrectly may very well result in added difficulty in achieving skills. In terms of learning tabla, it is no different.

how to sit with the tabla
Ustad Zakir Hussain performing at Konark, Odisha. This illustrates the common sitting position used by tabla players.


How to sit with the tabla

The term “gharana” is frequently used in Indian classical music. It has derived from the word “ghar” which translates to “home” or “school of thought”. Gharanas are specific styles or approach to music, which are popularly named after the family or location of origin. The tabla has 6 acknowledged gharanas. Banaras, Delhi, Ajrada, Farrukhabad, Punjab and Lucknow gharanas, each differ in approach, tone, techniques and even seating positions. All of these Gharanas require different training to achieve the true music of each of these styles. Tabla Gurukul is based on Farrukhabad Gharana. The style of Farrukhabad from a musician’s perspective, is often referred to as “minimum space, maximum weight” technique.


Anatomy of Tabla, Percussion instrument, तबला, ताल वाद्य यंत्र, তবলার বিভিন্ন অংশ, তাল বাদ্য


The main idea of traditional seating positions do provide additional advantage in playing according to the specific gharana but can later be customized according to the player’s needs. However, following the text book ways at first before any kind of experiments reduces the chance of wrong muscle memory development which can drastically raise learning difficulty. The concept of Farukhabaad gharana is mastering effortless tabla. Artistes’ perfect postures of holding tabla, allowing them tireless playing for extended periods of time. The secret to achieving this, is learning weight distribution and control of the joints of the arms. Shoulders, elbows and wrists all have specific work that need to be developed through practice.


Anatomy of Tabla, Percussion instrument, तबला, ताल वाद्य यंत्र, তবলার বিভিন্ন অংশ, তাল বাদ্য


Provided that one has all the items ready in our previous article, it is time to get the dominant directions right. The baya ( metal bass drum ) will be on the left hand and the daya ( wooden treble drum ) will be on the right hand, unless the student is a lefty. In case of this, the position of the tablas will be mirrored. Simply put, the dominant hand will play the wooden treble drum.

The tabla should always be placed in firm ground when playing. Soft surface will effect the posture of the player and will cause instability of the tablas. Sitting cross-legged on firm ground, there should not be more 5-6 inches of distance of the tabla from the body. The baya should parallel to the left knee kept at a slight slant towards the forward right facing the dayna, which should be kept right beside facing slight towards the baya slanted forward left. In other words, both the tablas should be facing each other and should be tilted slightly away from the player. The angle of this however, will depend completely on the players preferences according height length of hands.

A detailed Video tutorial on the topic can be found on Tabla Gurukul’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.


Read more:

Chapter 1 : Introduction to the Tabla



Leave a Comment