Tabla Musical Instrument: 7 Answers & Info (For Beginners)

The tabla is a modern caretaker of the ancient rhythmic tradition of music. It is a set of two drums which are perhaps 5,000 years old in a part of the world. It consists of a pair of two small drums.

Tabla belongs to Hindustani music of North India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. The higher-pitched of two drums includes the right-hand drum, generally referred to as the tabla or the daya.

Musical Instruments Tabla Information (Tabla History)

Additionally, Tabla is widely used in a variety of genres and styles of Indian Hindustani Music. Two famous tabla players include Alla Rakha Khan and his son Zakir Hussain.


The history of Indian classical music in India is at least 5,000 years old. It is represented by a continuance of musicians who are passing the music down in the oral tradition. Being one of the oldest musical traditions globally, many qualities fill the gap from the divine aspect of the fantastic creation of sound to musical expression.

A sacred collection of literature in the prehistoric Sanskrit language dating from 1500 BC is the first reference to the melodic and rhythmic systems of Indian music, which is found in the Vedas. The very first mention of talas (rhythm) and ragas (melody) is present in the Vedas. Even these ancient and eternal qualities are still used by modern classical music.

The original percussion instrument of North Indian classical music comprises a two-headed barrel-shaped drum generally known as the pakhawaj. Earlier, the pakhawaj was used to ao along with vocalists and instrumentalists in playing string instruments like (veena and sitar) or winds (bansuri, bamboo, flute). 

In the 17th and 18th century the Indian musician was employed as a court musician quite similar to European counterparts of the time.

According to modern research, tabla was invented in the first half of 18 century by a very famous drummer Amir Khusru, who was instructed to build up a more reliable subtle and melodic percussion instrument that could go with the new style of music known as Khayal.

What Is Tabla Musical Instrument Called In English?

The Tabla is one of the most commonly played drum sets in North Indian music. This instrument is more likely used to go with vocal, instrumental music, and dance. Tabla musical instrument takes its name from the tabl of Arabic origin or the Arabic word of the drum.

tabla instrument in english

The meaning of the general term tabl is an instrument that is facing upward with a flat surface. However, some scholars opine that the term table of the English word or language has been taken from the term tabl. Other people believe that tabl is not an Arabic word; instead, it is borrowed from the Latin tabula.

List Of Music Instruments Like Tabla

Hindustani classical music is very popular and primarily known for its instrumentalities. The Indian musical instrument is an integral part of Indian classical music. However, Karnatak classical music is basically what we want for its excellence in teaching practices.

Here’s the list of musical instruments like tabla:

  • Pakhavaj
  • Mridangam
  • Dhadd
  • Dholak
  • Khol
  • Duggi
  • Dhopar
  • Maddale
  • Gada Singari or Ghat singhari
  • Dhol
  • Maddalam or Shuddha Madalam
  • Maram
  • Madal
  • Mardala

These instruments are not precisely like tabla, but they are Membranophones.

What Is The Importance Of Tabla? 10 Lines On Tabla

Tabla is a famous percussion instrument that belongs to a North Indian heritage. This instrument can be played individually, and it can also go with multiple genres of music. Tabla is a part of classical music and has significant importance.

10 Lines On Tabla

Let’s have a look at the importance of tabla:

  1. Tabla has significant importance in accompaniments with other dance forms like Indian traditional dance such as  Kathak, Odissi, Bharatanatyam, and many different South Indian dances.
  2. Among all famous dance forms, the tabla is famously used for accompaniment in North Indian dance Kathak.
  3. In any type of tempo, the Tabla is used with various moods of music even in vocals too it is used in showing the Tala to the singers.
  4. While dancing on the same track played on tabla, several phrases can be sung by dancers.
  5. There are various other regional vocal styles with tabla that can also be seen in light music.
  6. Tabla is also popularly seen in folk music.
  7. Tabla is also needed in several regional kinds of music as the percussion instrument.
  8. It is also going well with other typical folk music such as Dholak, Kartal, Khanjari, Ghungroo, and Dhol.
  9. Tabla is also widely used by Hinduism as in bhakti devotional traditions.
  10. It is also used to balance the wide variety of metric cycles of set compositions.

Tabla Is The Most Common Instrument For Keeping The Rhythm In Carnatic Music?

The very famous and popular two most Indian musical drums are tabla and mridangam. In Hindustani music, the latter is mainly used, which is the more recent descendent mridangam, while the former is primarily used in Carnatic music and is the older of the two.

Mainly in the classical Indian music tradition, the beats are arranged based on the music piece that should be performed. Additionally, in the most common Indian system, the most common tala is teental, and in India’s Southern system, the most common tala is adi tala.

What Is Tabla Skin Made Of?

The Tabla heads are made with a goatskin, while the goat, camel, and buffalo skin are mainly used in making the straps. Manufacturing of this instrument, the skin used is from a goat that is particularly died because of natural death. Additionally, the nylon straps or the straps that are made of the skin from the same goat were used.

What Kind Of Instrument Is A Tabla?

Tabla is a very famous percussion instrument of North Indian classical music. It is very versatile among all music styles and even ensures to become a very popular percussion instrument all over India. 

Tabla is mainly used in North Indian classical music; however, it can be accompanied by many other musical instruments. Additionally, the level of sophistication and the beauty of its sound possesses an unmatched status in the world of percussion.

What Is The Other Name For Tabla?

The Tabla consists of an actual main drum, the left drum is known as Bayan, and the right drum is known as Dayan; however, the combination of these two drums is tabla.

Tabla is famously used as one of the main Qawali instruments that are used by Sufi musicians. Basically, the name tabla is more likely to come from tabl, an Arabic word for drum. It is featured in multiple dance performances, such as Kathak.

What Is Tabla Used For?

Tabla is mainly used for playing Drum sets in North Indian music. This instrument is frequently used to go with vocal and instrumental music and dance. Also, the primary function of this instrument is to maintain a metric cycle, where compositions are set accordingly. The versatility of this instrument is accompanied by all music forms.

man playing tabla

Final Thoughts

Above all, the tabla is a famous percussion instrument and one of India’s most famous musical instruments. It plays an important role in accompaniment with the vocalist dances in every style of music from classical to light to India. It is mainly used for keeping rhythm and maintaining focus while playing.

The instrument consists of two drums, the Bayan, and the Dayan. The left one is called Bayan while the right one is called Dayan. It mainly consists of a layer of goatskin which is spread over a clay vessel or a metal surface.

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