by Jarkko Laiho

Born on February 17th 1960, Shabbir Nisar is the third son of tabla nawaz Ustad Shaik Dawood Sahib.  He began his training in the traditional "taleem" system of tabla instruction from his father when he was just 4 years old.  He gave a 10 minute tabla solo performance from AIR Hyberabad in the children's program when he was 6 years old and he gave his first public performance under the auspices of Laya Sadhana in 1976.  He was awarded the National Scholarship by the Government of India at the age of 20 years.  At the age of 25 he joined the Government College of Music and Dance, Hyberabad and continues to be in teaching faculty today.  He has been an A grade artist associated with the Hyberabad AIR since the age of 25 years.

Ustad Shabbir Nisar has accompanied most of the eminent musicians of Indian Classical music today.  His tabla solo performance is a mirror onto the bygone days of the renaissance of tabla whose outstanding exponents include Ustad Siddhar Khan of Delhi, as well as Miyan Bakhsu ji and Ustad Modu Khan and Haji Vilayat Hussain Khan.  His style is indicative and of his constant efforts to maintain an effortless technique, an appreciation of tonal quality, and a constant exhibition of rare and authentic compositions from the treasuries of the great tabla and pakhawaj masters of yesteryears.  His solo performances have enraptured connoisseurs and music lovers alike wherever he has performed.

Since 1996 he has visited United States every year performing and teaching tabla to a number of seasoned students.  His style of teaching is to nurture tabla players are adept at accompanying all styles of music as well as playing tabla solo in the grand tradition that is tabla.  Today, he has about 100 disciples all over the world, many of whom are professional tabla players.

Ustad Shabbir Nisar's vast repertoire of compositions from Delhi, Purab (Lucknow and Farrukhabad), Ajrada and Punjab gharanas, as well as his mastery over difficult and rare 'Gats' make him one of the foremost tabliyas of the present time.  His playing of the 'dugga', or bayan, is traditional and full of flashes of brilliance and reminiscentof his late father who was known for his expressive and powerful bayan playing.

He inherited so much knowledge from his father that he does not hesitate in saying that, "the tabla which I play, is the tabla which was created by the great masters over the last three hundred years.  Nothing has been modified.  My father gave me so much tabla compositions, including hundreds of his own, that until today I only play about 10% of it.  However, even with this 10% mastered, I can play just the gats four to five hours and compositions starting with any tabla syllable."  Even though Ustad Shabbir Nisar is also continuosly adding to the universe of tabla by composing many new pieces including rela, gat, chakradar etc.

He is the founder of 'Ustad Shaik Dawood Academy of Music' in Hyberabad, India.  It is an ambitious project devoted to research, preservation and promotion of the rich tradition of tabla that he has inherited from his great legendary father Ustad Shaik Dawood.

Ustad Shabbir Nisar's playing is pure music.  There are no gimmicks.  He plays effortlessly even the most difficult tabla compositions.  His knowledge of tabla is something unbelievable.  He has inherited his fathers, Ustad Shaik Dawood's knowledge of tabla which was described by his guru Ustad Mehboob Khan Mirajkar in the following way: "All the knowledge of tabla in India is with Shaik Dawood".  Ustad Shabbir Nisar's solos pay respect to the old tabla tradition.  The old compositions are performed as they are intended.

His solos grow in the way that is very special.  Ustad Shabbir Nisar is able to raise the tempo and dynamics of the solo towards the end in unbelievable fashion.  The speed gets faster but the compositions are still performed with unbelievable clarity.  Extremely fast rela is being paired with tukras, gats and chakradars.  When the last sam is played  I feel great majestic feel.  The whole spectrum of different speeds, dynamics and tonal beauty have been explored in a special way.  Everything is played with respect to traditional tabla with the love for the music.



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