To anyone, When people improvise on tabla, are they still using bols in their head, or just working on sound alone, or should you be able to do both. I worry that sometimes bols can limit the sounds that I make because I fail to really listen and respond to the actual sounds and instead only listen to the bols in my head. I hope his makes sense to someone else. I also play western drums and play them by preempting the sounds in my head - like beatboxing. But bols can seem less direct than this. I'm sure it's -once again- just a case of practice but it would be nice to hear other people's thoughts...
Oli, This does make sense and it's a very good observation. Many people, like myself, are regrettably not yet at the stage where improvisation is an issue. This sounds like a professional technique and I will ask a few of my friends and my teacher. It may be a personal preference, it may be a learned technique, and no doubt it will only come with much on-the-spot performance experience. You are aware of course that there are certain rules in improvisation that should be adhered to. Nevertheless I can't see where what works for you would be in any way detrimental. Can you give a simple example? I also hope that someone else here will respond.
I feel that if you're playing fusion you can play the sounds, that you hear and experiment with it. Often some kaidas or some folk grooves work very well in pop/fusion. If not directly then after some modifications done according to the music being played. So you can use your improvisational skills in many ways in pop/fusion music. Play what you hear and test how that feels.Try different traditional kaidas or folk grooves fit to different musical sitautions then do some modifications to them, if needed. Then combine and learn to make it your style. In other words learn to use all the knowledge you have for different situations.
In traditional tabla playing you can't use, that hearing different sounds in your mind and just playing too much. You have to be able to use in kaidas and relas combinations that relate to the theme. I have found out, that doing variations in the spot is possible, but there may come some difficult bol combinations that distract your playing. In peshkar you have more possibilities, tha in kaidas and relas. If you have an amazing, flawless technical ability you can use this more in kaidas and relas.
It's good to control your improvisations to certain bol combinations according to your technical ability. Then use logic and mathematical thinking. Often playing freely sounds unlogical and bad. You can play in the moment and you should play in the moment, but you should learn to controll your improvisations. You should record your playing. That way you learn to know, when you're going too far in your improvisations. You should play in a way, that you don't play yourself out. You should be able to develop ideas and be always a step ahead in your mind. When you hear an improvisational idea "clearly" enough you can use it. Experience in your improvisations will tell you, what ideas work for you. After a while you know when to catch and idea. Your technical ablity will also diminish your options as you've probably found out. A lot being said and I hope you understood at least something of my explenations and ideas.
Thank you both for your messages - ive only just got connected to the internet and it's a real boost to my playing just to hear from other people learning to play. I think actually that bols are probably the most important aspect to learning indian percussian and what makes it such a unique sound, giving each stroke its power. I suspect that with practice, the sound and bol blend into one another for the experienced player.