A blast from the past!
Thanks to two masters, the pakhawaj is getting its groove back.
Bhai Baldeep Singh playing the jori.
With the predominance of the tabla as an instrument of percussion in North India, the pakhawaj, or a version of it, has come to be associated as a percussion instrument played primarily in the South. But, in fact, the barrel-shaped drum has been played in Punjab since the time of the fifth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Arjan Dev (1563-1606). Without the accompaniment of the pakhawaj, no Gurbani kirtan would ever have sounded quite the same.
The devotional musical offerings in gurdwaras, sung in dhrupad style, were traditionally rendered to the accompaniment of the rabab, a stringed instrument, and the pakhawaj. Bhai Mardana, who accompanied Guru Nanak on all his travels, playing the rabab to the Guru’s compositions, was famously gifted his rabab by Guru Nanak Dev himself.
In a kabit (a form of Punjabi oral poetry) by Bhai Gurdas, the first interpreter of Gurbani, writes about the popularity of the pakhawaj in the 16th century: “Ghar-ghar baba gaviyai, vajjan tāla mridañg rabābā” or, each home has become a resting place where kirtans are sung to the accompaniment of rababs and mridangs (another kind of percussion instrument).
He is a professor at the department of Ethnomusicology, University of California, Los Angeles.
White Sun II, which was adjudged the Best New Age Album at the 59th Grammy Awards, has an India connection. It features Indian tabla player Abhuman Kaushal alongside kora player Mamadou Diabate, and the Punch Brothers’ violinist Gabe Witcher. The 2016 hit was put together by California-based group White Sun that comprises Gurujas, Hari Jiwan Singh Khalsa and Adam Berry. The album left behind Enya and Vangelis to win the award.
It great to see something new and fresh, tabla meets beat boxing to give us tablaboxing.
A very cool well produced tabla solo
Two great masters sharing their knowledge and love for indian music
Once in a great while, there emerges a musician who, through his genius, injects that certain spark necessary to elevate an instrument to another level of expression and appreciation. For tabla, Ustad Allarakha was such an artist, having brought his instrument a stature and respect never before enjoyed. A disciple of Mian Kader Baksh, the great guru of the Punjab gharana, Ustad Allarakha was, in his lifetime, the most celebrated exponent of this style.
I believe the best way to learn tabla is with a teacher who can guide and inspire you. Sometimes you don’t have access to a teacher so you have to look at other options, straight from books or videos. I discovered this teacher on youtube a few years ago. Recently I felt my tabla practise was getting very flat and needed some new inspiration. So I went back to youtube to find Bhilaj. His lessons are very clear and easy to understand, therefore you can take on the new material. I have seen so many videos of amazing tabla players, but it is very difficult to follow exactly what they are doing.
A visual representation of Kherewa, which is a rhythmic cycle of 8 beats. Kherewa is a rhythm from the non-classical traditional used in Indian folk music, film sangheet, qawwali and gazal.