INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Tabla Forum: Understanding Tabla Tuning


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Understanding Tabla Tuning Apr 29, 2004 04:45 p.m.


I've few q.s regarding the Tuning of the Tabla(
Right hand drum/Daahina ). I know that this
subject appears on the forum frequently
but I still have few unanswered queries.

a) If I am tuning using the reference keys on
the keyboard/piano. For ex. If I select a C#
key on my keyboard, when I start tuning the
Tabla with hammer( I am aware of the Tuning
mechanics ), what *exactly* should I hear
when kbd note and Tabla are in tune?
Should the C# note on the kbd sort of gel into
the Na/Ta sound of the Tabla( which is being
played to adjust the pitch ) or something else??

b) Instead of a Keyboard, if I pick up a Tanpura(or
a Tanpura machine) which is tuned as
P-S-S-S(mandra), when I start tuning my Tabla,
what note on the Tanpura am tuning to? With
4 notes going on, how to adjust the Tabla pitch
to a particular note?

c) How to verify the tuning?( without asking your
Guruji ).

Re:Understanding Tabla Tuning Apr 29, 2004 05:22 p.m.

Listen to what you don't hear. Listen also to the silence. Don't try to blend the model and the desired. Make the high low and the low high. Remember not to listen with the ears. One man's C is another man's C#.
Re:Understanding Tabla Tuning May 03, 2004 02:19 p.m.

Thanks for your input.

I was hoping to get some more insights in the process
of Tuning but so far noone seems to be intereseted in
replying. I'll wait....

Re:Understanding Tabla Tuning May 03, 2004 03:05 p.m.

[quote]rahul (Apr 29, 2004 04:45 p.m.):

... Should the C# note on the kbd sort of gel into
the Na/Ta sound of the Tabla( which is being
played to adjust the pitch ) or something else??

Dear rahul,
See David's article on psychoacoustics:
You should simply tune to the tonic and get the na/ta to "gel" as closely as you can. Some tune to 'tin' on the sur. If you can pick out the major overtones you can use those to fine tune. The overtones will vary more drastically if the puddi isn't tuned precisely all around the head. Try using a tuner as well as a keyboard. I saw a good freebie download tuning program on the internet recently, try googling for "tuning software".
Mostly it's a matter of experience and the quality of you tablas. The timbre of your instrument will vary a great deal with the type and quality of it's construction. You can also tune for the greatest amount of sustain but that may require pulling your tabla up 2 or 3 whole steps. As I've said before not all tablas sound their best at C# and may not sound very good at all unless they're pulled to a D or d#. This is especially true for 5.25 inch tabla heads and smaller.
Don't expect a new tabla or puddi to be easily tuned or to keep it's tuning for very long until it's well broken-in. After that it'll tend to remember it's own tuning and all you have to do is help it along by taking good care of it.
It's also wise to hammer the gatta down as far as it will go or to put the gatta under another strap before beating incessantly on the gajara to tune to a higher pitch.



Re:Understanding Tabla Tuning May 05, 2004 03:12 p.m.

I'm not an expert as regards tabla but I've been playing other melodic instruments for a while and getting your ear in tune is either just there naturally or you have to train yourself. It should be fairly clear when the piano key and tabla note match. Maybe trying to find the piano key which matches the tabla note instead of vice versa is a way to tune your ear. Or you could try whistling or singing the note which are ways of using your natural sense of pitch.
Good Luck, J
Re:Understanding Tabla Tuning May 05, 2004 06:54 p.m.

Jimmy (May 05, 2004 03:12 p.m.):
Maybe trying to find the piano key which matches the tabla note instead of vice versa is a way to tune your ear. ....Good Luck, J

Thats a good suggestion. This never occurred to me. Thanks.

Re:Understanding Tabla Tuning May 06, 2004 12:01 p.m.

Dear Rahul,
It will be better if you play Na and try to sing a note in that pitch. After this you come to know about the Shruthi of the Tabla where it is actually. Now it is time to judge If it it is low then to what an extent it is low,or if it is high then to what an extent? apply same singing trick. If it is very low or very high you will come to know automatically. Keep in mind that, if it is perfect, then you will now here the clean tone applied so closely to the Reference, till it ends. If it is at nearer point it will make a difference as long as it prevails. You can use singing to the na trick, to judge if it is right or nearer to right or to far to right positions. This is to be applied since judging the shruthis produced by any instrument is not so easy as in case of vocal music. It will be good to practice Singing Sa, Re, Ga, Ma etc. then you will be able to sing to any reference tonic, may be C#, of F or A. Then you can judge where tabla is! Try.
With Wishes
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