Tuesday, 16 July 2013 03:44

Why Tabla Has Gained Its Dominant Position in Indian Classical Music

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From the very earlier period of time Tabla has gained its dominant position in Indian classical music as the most Popular Percussion Instrument. Since then, it has been an indispensible instrument for accompanying vocal and other forms of Indian classical music. It has very soft, rhythmic and soothing sound effect. Having sheer scope for improvisation and creativity, it has gained popularity as a solo instrument over a longer year. Each sound on the tabla has an onomatopoetic syllable for proper utilization. It got its remarkable development in North India. And definitely the credit goes to Benars Gharna.


The history goes to 200 years back when Pandit Ram Sahai (1780–1826), popularly known as Shri Ram Sahay ji, propagated the trend of its full utilization in Hundustani Music. This Benares baj utilizes the full use of over twenty different compositional types. Alongside, it has an enormously varied repertoire of each type. But at the state of its emergence it did not get this full grown state. It got its adolescent state through various guru-shishya lineages. Until Pt. Nanku Maharaj appeared to the scene and took the scepter, Benares gharana did not get its full grown state. Benaras Gharana Tabla got its full grown state and various applied sections in the hand of Nanku Maharaj, as he has been able to use it in versatile purposes like playing solo, vocal and dance accompaniment. His superlative command and specialty lie in accompanying various classical dances with his innovation, exploration and ramification of various tabla styles. He was the lonely person who has been able to fuse different variations and unique sound effects in tabla to utilize them skillfully in various genres of music and their different sections. For his genius and superlative command on tabla, he was conferred “Bengal Tiger” title.  

Fortunately, he got Pt. Kanthe Maharaj and Pt. Kisan Maharajji, as he married the elder daughter of Pt. Kanthe Maharaj. Consequently, he had a great chance to explore a vast area of solo tabla playing in a joint venture with his father-in-laws.

Today, the Benares Tabla Gharana is overly known in India and abroad for its powerful sound, soothing sound effects. The tabla maestros have been able to play this classical instrument delicately, sensitively and superlatively. The culture and patronization of Benares Gharana Tabla was not only limited in Benares (Popularly known as Varanasi) but also its adjacent areas, crossing the interface of Varanasi. It spread over Farukhabad, Lucknow and some more areas. This Varanasi style has the ability to produce resonant strokes of tabla like Na (played on the lao), and Din. The tabla players have been able to play proficiently using the full-hand TeTe strokes, rather than paying with single finger alternation like Delhi style. Side by side, their versatile genius lie in all forms of tabla playing such as instrumental, tabla solo, vocal, and dance accompaniment.

The proficiency and genius of Pt. Nanku Maharj lies in the domain of dance accompaniment. There is rarely any eminent Kathak dancer who has not practiced dance under his aegis. The Kathak maestros like Guru Bandana Sen, Amita Dutta, Manjula Polley and many other Veteran katthak dancers have practiced under his aegis.

Read 67529 times Last modified on Tuesday, 16 July 2013 15:30
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