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Tabla is a rich traditional musical instrument which has beat sensation like our heart beat. It also became popular in pop music. The term tabla derived from an Arabic word "Tabl" which means "drum". It consists of two high pitched drums one is called "Chattu" (dayan) and other is called "Duggi"(bayan).
Chattu is played with the fingers and palm of the right hand & Duggi is played with fingers, palm and wrist of the left hand.These drums positioned on two toroidal bundles which called "Chutta". Musician recognize six famous gharanas of tabla in Indo-Pak. Delhi gharana, Ajrara gharana, Farukhabad gharana, Benares gharana, Punjab gharana, Lucknow gharana. Each gharana has its own compositional aspects and playing styles. Craftsmen of every region making tablas according to their gharanas. Almost all tabla players of Pakistan belong from Punjab gharana.
Tabla is invented by Amir Khusrow during the era of Persian muslims. In Pkistan, Tabla players did travel long distances for Dhonkal and Dheerkay and pay amounts to get their tabla made by the likes of Natthu Khan, Mian Imam Din, Bassay Khan and Baba Nabba. Dhonakl a town in Gujranwal District located on Lahore Islamabad highway, 28 km from Gujranwala and 100 km from cultural capital (Lahore) of Punjab. Dhonkal famous as the centre point for making high quality tablas. Tabla making developed in Pakistan a little over 250 years ago by the legendary artist Mian Baana , a resident of Dhonkal .His ustad and spiritual guru was Syed Qaim Din Shah. Who learned the craft by secretly watching a tabla maker Jagga who did not share the knowledge and techniques of the craft. Then instrument making passed down to next generations in the form of a teacher- pupil relationship which known as an ustad - shagird silsila. The Dhonkal - Dheerkay craftsmen shifted to urban centers of Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi and Peshawar and still proudly display the name of their relevant towns on the signboards of their small shops, which symbolize the high standards of craftsmanship. Mostly tabla makers in Pakistan are from gharana of Mian Baana or disciples of his family. Tabla makers of Dheerkay , also claiming an ancestral link with Mian Baana. Pakistani tablas are favored by rich classical, qawwali tabla players and Christian community due to rich, roundness and high pitch of tone. But the use of electronic & Western instruments, the lack of fame of traditional music in Pakistan, and the economic fall have created a drop in demand.
One of the most demanding crafts is the art of instrument making. Particular effort and knowledge about construction of each musical instrument gives outstanding professional quality. The process is made even more risky when craftsmen translate the musician's demands into an instrument which is able to photocopy the musical expression of the artist. Three types of craftsmen are involved in tabla making like Carpenter (for fabrication of wood shell), Blacksmith (for fabrication of metal shell) and tabla craftsman.
- Small wooden drum called chattu (sidha ,tabla, dayan, or dahina). - Chattu is played with the fingers and palm of the right hand. - Made with wood ( neem, sheeshm, rosewood). - Manufacturing of Chattu Following steps are involved in manufacturing of chattu. I. "Fabrication of the wooden shell: selection of wood -------- must have a diameter of approximately 6" to 8", with a length of 10" to 12" -------- roughly chiseled into the desired shape -------- placed on lathe which complete the job of shaping wood -------- carve the grooves for the decoration purpose -------- dig out (making hole or space by digging and removing material) the surface -------- a large portion at the bottom of the drum is left unbroken for the weight. II. Seasoning of wood: after fabrication -------- placing the wood in a cool, dry place for a period of up to two years to dry out."
The weight is the most important aspect of the wood because a light piece of wood will produce a thin sound, while a heavy piece of wood will produce a deep, melodious sound. Duggi - Larger metal one called duggi (dagga, bahnya, bayan). - Duggi is played with fingers, palm and wrist of the left hand. - Mostly wood, iron, brass, steel, clay and rarely aluminum are used in making of duggies. Duggi making with wood is called dhama. - Manufacturing of Duggi Following steps are involved in manufacturing of duggi.
"Fabrication of metallic shells: a disc of brass cut with a diameter of rough- ly 8" -------- then beaten into the shape of a bowl -------- a rectangular piece of brass is cut and joined together which make a cylinder with a diameter of 10" -------- Cylinder rounded enough & join with the bowl-shaped bottom through welding -------- then heating the whole to a red heat -------- beaten it accord- ing to desire shape. The kinari(rim) must then be formed by taking a strong iron ring of about 9" in diameter and folding the brass rim over it."
Making the pura for both drums is same. - Making of pura There are three parts of pura.
Gajara Syahi - Membranes: I. Manufacturing of membranes: begins by taking the rawhide of a goat --------- soaking it in water -------- remove the excess hair and tissue -------- applied masala on it --------spread it on phtta (board)------- whole is allowed to dry -------- after drying ------- mark off circles of various sizes for various drums -------- area of neck and back is not in the case of duggi but it is acceptable for chattu -------- then circles are cut -------- come skin will be cut into small rectangular pieces -------- circular pieces of skin are now graded as to quality --------- lower quality pieces with empty center use for outer covering (kinar) -------- medium quality use for cheap tablas -------- high quality skin use for professional tablas -------- skins are again drenched in water and removed. II. Sur(Maidan): it is main sounding membrane. III. Kinar (Chat) : a circular piece of khaal (skin) which lies over the main sounding crust --------- with an empty circular space of 3 inches diameter in center. The kinar serves several functions. It give strength and durability to the pura. It also increases the life of the head . The kinar also effects the tone of the instrument. chatni laid on Sur and outer surfaces of both face up --------- a bit of wa- dri inserted with a large needle and threaded back and onward through the two skins. IV. Pund (bharti) It will be made with rectangular pieces of skin and laid around the rim of drum shell. The kinar and sur are now stretched over the bharti and drumshell and tied securely. - Gajara: The weaving of gajara begins by making vertical sorakh (holes) around the ki- nari (edge) of the tabla .The duggi requires 64 holes while the chattu requir- es only 32,40 or 48. Gajara transferring the tension from the lacing to the m- aidan. Construction of gajara: Buffalo , cow and camel skin are used for the weaving. Each wadri is first dipped in water, and then lightly covered with oil. The two wadries are inserted into three closest holes up to their midpoints .There must be a centre rope around which gajara is woven. The gajara is now started. Step 1: Take rope from bottom-------Twist 1/2 in clockwise direction------- Go above two holes and put wadri in third hole-------- Pull out wadri from bottom of fourth hole------- - now repeat the step withnext wadries. Step 2: Stop weaving when wadri exits at the first point --------Cut external side wadri so that it extends 1 inche over the starting point ------Cut internal side wadri it touches the starting point--------Cut middle side wadri -------- Twist wadri 1/2 turn in clockwise direction-------Pull rope over four spaces and put between kinar and gajara-------Pull next wadriesand repeat the steps. Now weave the bunad. when lightly hitting the gajara with a small hammer acts as the "fine tuning".The pura is now removed from the shell and the bh- arti is trimmed and then pura mounted on shell. - Syahi It applied to the exposed surface of the maidan to form a circle -------- appro- ximately 3 1/2 inches for the chattu or 4 to 4 1/2 inches for the duggi --------- circle is then allowed to dry in the sun -------- Finishing of syahi has a greater impact upon the tone . I. Making of syahi: It is done by boiling a small amount of saresh (mucilage) until it becomes soft and gummy --------to prepare the paste for syahi, a mix- ture of water and floor boil together which make lai(glue) -------- glue is mix- ed with the syahi masala --------the whole mixing process is done in a rubber mat . Syahi masala is the important ingredient for syahi -------- a commercially av- ailable powder called lohechoon (iron dust) and called manoor in the langu- age of tablya. The application of a layer involves these steps: Application of syahi: a small quantity of syahi paste applied with the first fi- nger of the right hand -------- paste is speedily applied in a circular motion on the surface previously covered by the saresh -------- excess paste must be removed with rambi --------- rotation of tabla during this pro- cess give uniform thickness -------- polishing with a watti , kausauti(stone) ---- ----- polishing is very important because it produce surr -------- ingredients of the syahi harden to the consistency of cement -------- "mold (syahi) of unconn- ected particles (bound firmly to the skin but unconnected to each other) exh- ibits a degree of flexibility".(said by nasir hussain) These steps are repeated for more layers and diameter of each layer rem- ains full size until four or five layers have been applied.These points must be kept in mind. The shape of the syahi is very important.If the geometry is not
correct then many of the tone modes will not meet in a proper way. Different strokes evoking different pitches. Final phase: trim the chat -------- trimmed to a width of approximately 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch in width -------- excess syahi can be scraped away with a blade - -------- skin is lightly sanded with sandpaper -------- chalk is applied to the chat and maidan and again lightly sanded it give cleanliness.
The tabla is tightened with the help of leather straps, which pass through the edge of the gajra and the bottom. Finally eight ghati (cylindrical pieces of wood ) are equally passed through the straps in the wooden drum to assist in tuning the instrument to the required note.
Today, a single tabla making shop (Akhtar Lahori Rhythm Store) owned by Allah Ditta exists in Waris Pura, Faisalabad. He learnt this craft from his father "Baba Lal Hussain" and from Akhtar Hussain, a tabla maker based in Lahore. His father was the best tabla maker from Dhonkal and shagird of Ustad Mullah Musheer from Munshi Mohala (was shahi mohala of Faisalabad). Allah Ditta makes high pitched tablas and has thirty year experience in tabla making. He sells a variety of other instrument like dhol, tumkinati, duff .His clients are Zaman Rahat Sahib, Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Sami qawal, Qari Saeed Chishti and Christian community.