Practice for sure, for me I would love to know how to get an earsplitting snap sound like Zakir's.
Zakir once explained how to create 4 different Na's, I'll do my best to explain. #1 Strike the kinar with the first finger, the landing zone should be as close to the sur without touching the sur (not to much wood). Consider that your finger is like a drum stick in otherwords don't fight the fingers natural reaction to bounce, not to exagerate, you are not going to see a bounce but people tend to press down after the note is made. Being in touch with this reaction allows you to play quicker and flow with the drum. I think this was his point of the main and most appropriate Na. #2 Another Na is the bouncy na where you over exagerate this bounce similar to a tin or tun note and this is a wimpy sound that I think you mostly want to avoid. #3 Another Na strikes the wood rim under the kinar and the finger is held there, it goes against the bounce to create a kind of firm wood sound. #4 The final Na is similar to 3 but even further out on the wood rim of the kinar, almost on the curve, and Zakir called the whip. Zakir was careful not to say any of these were wrong that's just the open type of person he is. But I got the feeling he was just demonstrating all the ways people play Na.
rod (Jan 18, 2003 11:54 a.m.): Time and practicewill tell!!!
I have recently have been trying a couple of ways of playing na. In one, I play it with just the (almost) the tip of the index finger. No really the tip but more like the top (or first ) division of my index finger. In the second, I play a na with a more flat finger wich takes almost the two top divisions of the index finger. In the first na, I must play with a lot of power because of the small area hitting the rim, and so I get a very sharp sound. On the second I get a less sharp sound but still a na. This way I can almost produce two distinctive na sounds which sounds really great to hear and bring some extra flavour to my playing. Must try the way Zakir explains above too... cheers rod
In addition to all of above, I ensure that the ring finger is static and soft on the edge of the sihai, and using this as a pivot to turn the wrist and slightly increase the height of the ring and middle finger. The subtle 'flick' action of the wrist helps to swing the index finger naturally and control the bounce.
It is also important to note that the elbow is not lazily resting too low or on the knee or to inward towards the body.
Here is an exercise to develop the index finger:
Place the index finger flat from the tip to the base on the tabla and press quite hard and firm, lift the 2nd finger as high as it will go. Firmly Smack the tabla edge in repetition with the ring and little finger together, say for at least 5 minutes. Then play na and let me know how you feel.
Now here are the rules: #1. At all times the firm pressure from tip to base must be applied on the index finger. If you let go then nothing is gained.
#2. The ring and index finger must strike the tabla together creating on a single sound only. On lifting the fingers they can be separated is wished.
#3. The 2nd finger must remain high up all times.
Very quickly you will notice a knotty pain in your outer muscle by the elbow and at the back of your shoulder. This barrier must be overcome to unfreeze several seized muscles. Diligently practiced you will notice results in a few days. Good luck