Tabla Solo by Akram Khan

A rare opportunity to hear the foremost exponent of the Ajrara Gharana.

A first solo in the UK – accompanied on Sarangi by Ilyas Khan
Supporting Act: Chakardar Ensemble, Summer School performance.

The Tabla is the most popular percussion instrument used in North Indian Music.  Believed to have originated in the 13th Century, this pair of highly versatile drums have over the centuries been used both as a “solo” instrument and for accompaniment with vocal, instrumental, dance, pop, folk and in more recent times for fusion.  The Tabla is by far the most complex percussion instrument in the world, capable of tremendous tonal and rhythmic complexity.

The Tabla consists of a smaller higher pitched drum known as the ‘Tabla’ or ‘dayan’, made of a cylindrical hollowed out wood.  The larger drum, known as the ‘Bayan’ or ‘dagga’ is made of metal covered with a goatskin top which provides the bass sound.

There are 6 common Tabla “Gharanas”, schools or styles of Tabla playing:  Delhi, Ajrara, Punjab, Farukhabad, Lucknow and Benaras.  All named after the place where the playing style emerged.  In many ways, the Gharana system has undergone considerable change in recent times.  The traditional method of imparting knowledge from master to son/disciples from the local vicinity meant that the different gharanas remained “unpolluted” for centuries.

With the advent of easier communication media networks, the current generation of Tabla maestros have been influenced not only by maestros from all the gharanas, but also by musical traditions of different cultures.  The traditional style of of teaching Indian classical music still prevales maintaining the purity of their particular gharana yet able to use equivalent traditional compositions from other ghranas to showcase the diversity of these great musical instruments. Such has been the influence of the sounds of the Tabla in the West that we hear a growing expansion into western jazz and pop music with such big names as Madonna, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Missy Elliot, Selena Gomez, etc…

More information can be found on

Leave a Comment