INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Tabla Forum: backward tete - forward tete


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backward tete - forward tete Dec 01, 2003 10:22 p.m.

I am learning from a disciple of Allah Rakha and most of the kaidas my masterji has given me use a reverse tete so far - ie index finger then middle finger and ring finger.

This is obviously a prevalent trait of Punjab Gharana as my master has explained to me and the rest of the Punjab Gharana students would know. However, as I don't know much about other gharanas aside from a somewhat abstract view, I was wondering how much this technique is used in the rest of the tabla world.

Please share your thoughts and experiences...

Chris Pereji
Re:backward tete - forward tete Dec 02, 2003 12:28 a.m.

Te Te also written as Ti Ta can be played in different ways depending upon the gharana and the composition:

i = index, m= middle, mr = middle and ring

I. Try the follwoing phrase:

Ge Na Ti(i) Ta(m) Dha Ge Na Dha Ti(m) Dha Ge Na Tin Na Ke Na

II. Dha -d Dha Ti(m) Ta(i) Ka Ta(mr) Dha-d Dha Tin Na(

III. Dhi(m/mr) Ta(i) Dhi(m/mr) Ta(i) Dha Ge Ti(m)Ta(i)

All the above phrases are from Punjab gharana.

So it depends not only on the gharana but sometimes also on the phrase you are playing.

In phrase III you can feel the difference yourself when you alternate between m/mr !

Good luck.


Re:backward tete - forward tete Dec 02, 2003 11:42 a.m.

Hi Randeep,

Like you said, the 'reverse tete' (1-2,3) is a characteristic of the Punjab gharana. In the Benares gharana, we prefer the 'forward tete' (2,3-1).

However, nothing is absolute, and you're sure to come across compositions in any gharana that are exceptions... A preference is just a preference; it's not a rule. I have some compositions that are meant to be played one way, and others that are meant to be played in another way. I play each composition as they are intended to be played... I won't reverse fingerings on a composition... I play it the way my Guruji taught it to me.

In tabla, there are often multiple possibilities for fingerings, especially with 'tete'... It just depends on how you were taught that particular composition. You may choose to alter the fingering, but that's something I would avoid unless you have a REALLY good reason for it. The fingering is as it is for a reason...

Take care,

Re:backward tete - forward tete Dec 02, 2003 08:44 p.m.

Thanks Shawn - I definitely wouldn't dare try to change the fingering I was taught. It always amazes me how little of the essence of a composition the written form captures. I think writing things in English is probably even harder - I use Punjabi. I guess what we end up writing down for the bols of a composition is really just meant for recitation.

I think I'd like to re-word my question a bit and ask, does reverse tete (tita?) even exist in other gharanas?

Re:backward tete - forward tete Dec 03, 2003 09:45 a.m.

Hi Randeep,

I write my bols in English, because that's just the system that I know best. But I use additional accents to specify the difference between a resonant Ta (Na), and a non-resonant Ta (Te), for example. That way, I can keep the bols as-is, but still understand their meaning. And really, writing compositions down is just a memory aid, because on the same day, or the next, it should all be memorized anyways!

About your new question, I'd say that if you went back 100 years, things might have been different, but now, you can probably find bits of every style in every gharana. There will still be preferences for certain techniques, ways of playing, interpretation style, but everyone (with experience) is quite aware now of what other tabla players are doing, and what all the many possibilities are.

I guess to answer your question more directly, I'd say that the reverse fingering DOES exist, but perhaps to a lesser extent. And when you do see it in other gharanas, it could quite likely be a result of a Punjab influence.

For example, the Benares repertoire includes quite a large number of Punjabi gats (500, according to the gharana history). So, there is an element of Punjab influence, through repertoire. I don't know enough of the other gharanas to make any definite comment...

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