The modern tabla has a highly developed technique of playing and in the hands of a master player it is capable of producing almost all the patterns of rhythms and cross-rhythms that a musician can conceive of.
The well-established time cycles are rendered in terms of drumming phrases called thekha or measured beat.
Though the tabla is essentially an accompanying instrument, the tabla players are also soloists in their own right, and many have vast repertoires of elaborate compositions handed down orally from generation to generation.
The tabla takes its name from the tabl of Arabic origin.
The standard size of the right drum is of ten-and-a-half inches height, the diameter at the bottom being about seven inches to eight-and-a-quarter inches and the upper playing surface varies between five to five-and-a-half inches.
The left drum called bayan, is almost of the same height, around ten inches high, but the playing surface is about ten inches and the bottom is about two-and-a-half to three inches.The principal tabla schools that emerged and flourished are: Dilli, Ajrada, Lucknow, Farrukhabad, Benaras and Punjab.Gradually, with the passage of time, the tabla acquired the rhythmic patterns and techniques of other percussion instruments such as pakhavaj, dholak, naqqara, etc., and shot to the peak of popularity in a very short span of time.The tabla is the most commonly played drum set in North Indian music.It is the instrument most frequently used to accompany vocal and instrumental music, and dance; whereas its primary function is to maintain the metric cycle in which the compositions are set.These braces are tied to another ring at the bottom of the instrument.There are sixteen holes or ghar to which the braces are tied at equal distance, giving the instrument an equal tension at all the points.Tabla in our catalogue As stated earlier, the tabla seems to have been in the beginning an instrument which suited the lighter variety of music and hence was very popular with the common people.It, however, remained confined to folk music and to the simple music of the lower castes, till the beginning of the eighteenth century. For the accompaniment of khayal and its allied instruments like sitar and sarod, the need of a new percussion instrument was felt, which had the majesty of the pakhavaj yet could be played in a lighter manner as well.Beneath each pair of leather bracing, a small tuning block of wood (gatta) is kept. By moving them up or down, the braces are tensed or loosened, thus varying the tension of the pudi, and the instrument can be tuned to the desired pitch.The most important and significant part of the parchment is the black paste called 'syahi', about seven centimetres in diameter; it is affixed centrally on dayan and eccentrically on bayan.