If you’re the tabla player, you should have enough knowledge about the tabla tuning. If you desire for the quality tone, you must tune your tabla to the right scale. It’s so vital that when one point goes out of tune, it badly obstructs the sound. You should also be well familiar with the various scales.
When playing the tabla solo, it may not be tuned to a certain scale. But, when it’s played as an accompanying instrument, it should be tuned to a particular pitch.
How to tune Tabla?
Following is the simplest method of tuning the tabla.
- A special – heavier hammer is used to tune the tabla, which can be purchased easily from a musical instrument shop. Weight of the hammer makes it easy to tune the tabla.
- Tuning the Tabla on right scale: The tabla (dayan) is most commonly tuned on a Tanpura to the first keynote ‘Sa’ or to the fifth keynote ‘Pa’, or the fourth keynote ‘Ma’. It can also be tuned to a scale C or C# or D.
- The tabla should always be kept at room temperature. Cold and moisture must be avoided.
- While tuning the tabla skin should never be stretched excessively.
- Play the keystroke ‘Na’ all the way around the tabla and find a correct note. Here, listen to your sixth sense, which helps you to recognize that the tabla is tuned.
- Generally, the tabla gets tuned a scale below or above, as per its skin quality and tension in its straps.
- Now, make the desired note on a tuner or keyboard.
- Don’t tune the tabla at a too high or low sound.
- In case it gets tuned too low, tune with the wooden pegs (‘gattas’). They provide universal tension and are used to increase or decrease the skin tension.
- If you pull the gattas down, it increases the pitch, and vice versa.
- Strike the blocks and straight them by the sharper side of the hammer.
- When beating the blocks, all 8 blocks should be stiffened in the order ‘1st-5th, 2nd-6th’.
- While punching a block, don’t hit the leather straps or the skin of the tabla.
- When you feel that the tabla is tuned, further tune it finely by hitting the gajra (crown) of the head with the flat side of your hammer, again with the aforesaid order.
- If the tabla is tuned too high, hit the gajra (crown) bottom under the head, with the flat side of the hammer. This eases the pitch to the preferred level.
- Strike the hammer in the centre of the segment to protect leather straps. This maintains a balanced head.
- If the instrument doesn’t attain the desired note, see for the adequate pressure in the straps.
- Even after doing so, if it doesn’t reach the note, be sure that it’s not designed to reach that scale.
- Before attempting tuning, novice players must observe the seniors tuning the instrument.
- While tuning the Tabla keep a separate tabla for different pitches.
- Overall, while tuning the tabla, practice with persistence is the most important factor.
Buddies, I hope, you will find these points encouraging while tuning the tabla.