The tabla drums are perhaps the worlds most complex percussion instrument. Its technique and repertoire are derived from a drum tradition dating back several hundreds of years. The tabla was invented around four hundred years ago in north India and is based upon the much older instrument called the pakhawaj, which is a singular barrel shaped two sided drum. The tabla fingering and compositions evolved into the modern day version which is now played all over the world and has found its influence growing within the many diverse music traditions of the world. It is the main accompaniment instrument for most performances of classical east Indian Hindustani music.
Tabla drums consist of two separate units, the smaller one being made from hardwoods such as rosewood, its shaped vase like, and hollowed out in the center, it has a solid core base. This wooden drum, called the tabla, is, treble pitched and is tuned to the music key to which its performing with.The larger metal drum named the bayan, completes the pair and is the bass or low end of this pair. Its made out of copper or brass and is shaped like a pot. It also is solid at the base and the two drums are placed on separate soft rope like rings to keep them steady while being played.
Both drums are fitted at the top openings with thin skins called puris made from the hide of goat,The straps are made from the thicker hide of camel and are cut like rope which intertwine the puris and secured with extreme tension so as the drum sill stay in tune and keep its resonance. The puris are unique to the drum world- no other percussion instrument has such an eloborate design, The makers of these puris have to be trained for years and years to learn the introcasies of this craft. The multi layered drum head has in its center a rounded three to four inch circle made from a mixture of black iron fillings, rice paste and several other ingrediants, The reciept is mixed to a soft moist ball and slowly ground into the top part of the puri that is stecthed across the drum, This mixture is called the shi-high or aak and the maker then must vigorously rub the balck mixture with a smooth rock or paper wieght for hours and hours till it becomes glass hard and imbedded into the skin, after completion this black part of the puri is permanently fixed and gives the drum its unique melodic resonance and sustained tone.