Tabla Tips Ustad ‘Zakir Hussain’

Playing Position of  Tabla

The tabla player sits cross-legged on the ground, or on a cushion or blanket, with the diana and bahya in front of him, the diana on the right and bahya on the left (the other way round if left handed).

The two downs sit in two rings made of cloth cushioned with stuffing, so that the downs can be oriented to suit the player.

Tabla Tips Ustaad 'zakir hussain'
Tabla Tips Ustaad ‘zakir hussain’


The players back should be straight, and the elbows loose and released. The drums should be positioned so that the palams of the hands can rest flat on the siyahi’s without banding at the wrists. The bahya should be turned so that its siyahi is always from the player.

The rings should hold the drums firmly enough that they do not move about during playing.


The Chals and their Bols

 The skin of the Drum-heads (Puri) are struck by definite and prescribed finger movements, which also involve certain wrist and arm actions, and the various strokes are know as the chals.

The particular sounds (percussive notes) obtained are symbolized and represented as mnemonic monosyllabic names (onomatopoetic) knows as BOLS

The Bols are used in representing, constructing and memorizing the basic rhythms called TALS, and their controlled extemporization into various forms of rhythmical development.

Types of hand movement in table playing

 In table playing, the right hand operates as though it were constructed in two parts. The thumb and forefinger together form one part; the second, third and fourth fingers the other. This division providers the right hand with two basic ways of hitting the drum.

These two stroke is damped or ricochet, and by varying the region of the drum-head hit. The strokes delivered by the fingers of the right hand result mainly from movements which occur at the elbow, coupled with wrist movements in some cases.

Rapid alternation in hitting the drum with the two parts of the hand is of fundamental importance.

To place the right hand in its neutral position it is held palm down-wards, with the palm flat and the fingers extended, parallel with the drum-head and two or three inches above it. The 1st and 2nd fingers are now spread as widely as possible, keeping the thumb pressed against the 1st finger, and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers pressed together. The division of the hand into its two parts becomes obvious. This position is neutral in the sense that most of the right hand chals start from the position.

Types of hand movement in table playing
Types of hand movement in table playing

The neutral position for the left hand is with the hand resting palm downwards on the drum-head, with the fingers extended. The palm should movements of the left hand occur mainly at the wrist.