INDIAN MUSIC FORUMS

Sign up Calendar Latest Topics Chat
 
 
 


Reply
  Author   Comment  
TablaBeatz

Registered:
Posts: 342
Reply with quote  #1 
Hello all
I have been thinking a lot about placement of the pinky finger and to some degree that also of the ring finger (both that are least talked about in tabla playing) --> particularly when playing the Na and Tita Bols.

1) I mostly have them placed as to what feels comfortable - looking at myself however in the mirror - I notice they move around slightly especially when coming of a Tun bol.

My ring finger is near the corner of the syahi, and the pinky finger on the outer corner of the chat - near gajra

is there some theory on the placement of these fingers - especially when playing teentaal or dhaTita dhaTita ? What about that pinky finger - my teacher never talked about pinky finger placement!

Should we be aiming for exact fingering on the Dayan everytime? Really grateful if someone can share and discuss more on the topic of Dayan fingering

__________________
"The beginning of life is rhythm. When you’re in the womb your mother’s heart is beating at (about 90) decibels ... we were born of vibration 13.7 billion years ago with the explosion of the universe."
0
pbercker

Registered:
Posts: 1,451
Reply with quote  #2 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "TablaBeatz"
Hello all

Should we be aiming for exact fingering on the Dayan everytime? Really grateful if someone can share and discuss more on the topic of Dayan fingering
I am certainly not qualified to say what is - and is not - correct finger position on the dayan, however I can probably answer your question above .... and the answer is .... yes! lol

Pascal

__________________
My opinion given without any warranties, expressed or implied, that it's even relevant. It would be folly to rely on my opinion without seeking more professional tabla advice. If you are suffering from a tabla condition, seek immediate attention.
0
TablaBeatz

Registered:
Posts: 342
Reply with quote  #3 
Yes I definitely need to work on it Pascal - especially for faster playing -

Have you come across anything on pinky finger placement while playing?

__________________
"The beginning of life is rhythm. When you’re in the womb your mother’s heart is beating at (about 90) decibels ... we were born of vibration 13.7 billion years ago with the explosion of the universe."
0
david

Administrator
Registered:
Posts: 526
Reply with quote  #4 
This is the first part of the answer.

The little finger will never help you, therefore it is a question of having a placement that does not hurt you. In particular you should resist any temptation to keep the little finger raised, and simply let it move along with the ring finger.

The reason for this is tied to our anatomy. We are physically wired to do just this, and to do otherwise goes against nature. The muscles which flex the fingers are known as the flexor digitorum profundus. In spite of what you might suppose, they are not located in the hand but in the forearm. This muscle starts out joined, but begins to split as it goes out to the various fingers. But the split is not the same. It is a deep separation for the index finger/middle finger yet becomes shallower as we move toward the little finger. This shallow split means that any attempt to flex the ring finger will automatically flex the little finger.

(Digressing a bit, the thumb is not included in this scheme. The thumb has its own muscle, the flexor pollicis longus. From an evolutionary standpoint, the two sets of muscles were at one time joined together, but split in man to allow a completely independent action of the thumb. Therefore in other primates this muscle is either absent or present in a very rudimentary form.)

Returning to the topic of the flexor digitorum profundus, any attempt to keep the little finger extended automatically weakens the flexing of the ring finger. This is problematic for tabla, for we use the ring finger a lot. It is certainly possible to train ourselves to overcome this problem, but the simple question is "Why?" I have seen novelty acts where people have trained themselves to eat glass, but in both cases it goes against nature.

If you look around YouTube you will see people playing with the ring finger extended, but this is really a poor technique. Simply allow your ring finger and little finger move as a single entity, and you will not be having to constantly work against your own anatomy/physiology/kinesiology.

But this leads us to another seemingly unrelated aspect of tabla technique, the wrist. Most tabla players unconsciously realize that playing with the wrist in a straight position is the best thing to do. Unfortunately many beginners have a tendency to use all sorts of strange contortions. For some reason an excessive ulnar flexion or hyperextension is common among beginners. Now because of some quirk in evolution, the flexor digitorum profundus not only flexes the fingers but is also one of the muscles used to flex the wrist. Therefore peculiar wrist positions impact a person's ability to consistently deliver a forceful strike to the dayan.

Peace

David Courtney
0
pbercker

Registered:
Posts: 1,451
Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "TablaBeatz"
Yes I definitely need to work on it Pascal - especially for faster playing -

Have you come across anything on pinky finger placement while playing?
I think the best thing to do is to pay close attention to finger placement of an expert tabla player. For example you can hardly go wrong with 90 minute performance from Gourishankar. This is a house concert, so the video quality is quite good, and reasonably close to the tabla player. Moreover there are frequent closeups of Gourishankar's tabla and his hands so analyzing finger placement (including pinky) is easy.



What amazes me about his playing is how he achieves this clarity with minimal hand and finger movement.

While on the subject of the pinky, watches what Tafoo khan does with his pinky in the 20 seconds of this video:




Pascal

__________________
My opinion given without any warranties, expressed or implied, that it's even relevant. It would be folly to rely on my opinion without seeking more professional tabla advice. If you are suffering from a tabla condition, seek immediate attention.
0
david

Administrator
Registered:
Posts: 526
Reply with quote  #6 
This is the second part of the answer.

The bottom line is that the ball of the ring finger needs to be just barely touching the syahi. But whether it remains there throughout the stroke depends upon a number of factors. First let us get some background.

There are three concepts that we need to consider: modes, nodes, and antinodes. The mode is the way the drumskin resonates. It will be defined by a pattern of areas of the drum, some of which are moving and some of which do not move. The nodes are the areas of the drum which in a particular mode do not move. The antinodes are the portions of the drum which in a particular mode show the maximum movement.

A tabla dayan, has a finite number of resonance modes which are available to it. When you play, you use your technique to choose which modes you wish to accentuate and which mode you wish to suppress. This is analogous to cooking. When you go into your kitchen you have only a finite number of spices, and your skill at cooking is shown by which spices you use and which ones you leave out.

When you play tabla there are two actions on the various modes. There is suppression and accentuation. Modes are selected by the ring finger. Any mode which has a node lying under your ring finger will be selected, because the other modes will be suppressed. But just because a mode is selected does not mean that it will be accentuated. The accentuation of a particular mode comes when you strike at or near the antinode of that mode (The points of the mode that show the maximum movement.)

Now there is another thing to consider, that is the nature of the event. An event is everything which occurres from the time the tabla is struck to the time that the sound goes away. Any change in the position of the ring finger during this event will be reflected in the sound. There are basically three things that the ring finger can do during this event. 1) It remains in the same position. 2) It is raised from the drum. 3) It shifts to another position. For the dayan, number three is generally not an option. One and two are options which are commonly used. If the ring finger is kept in position, the sound will be pure and more controlled, but not as loud. If the ring finger is suddenly raised it will produce a louder more resonant sound as the lower order resonance modes begin to express themselves at the end of the event. Neither way is right or wrong and it is all a question of what sort of sound you wish to produce.

Peace

David Courtney
0
pbercker

Registered:
Posts: 1,451
Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "TablaBeatz"
Yes I definitely need to work on it Pascal - especially for faster playing -

Have you come across anything on pinky finger placement while playing?


While on the subject of the pinky, watches what Tafoo khan does with his pinky in the 20 seconds of this video:




Pascal

__________________
My opinion given without any warranties, expressed or implied, that it's even relevant. It would be folly to rely on my opinion without seeking more professional tabla advice. If you are suffering from a tabla condition, seek immediate attention.
0
hbajpai

Registered:
Posts: 892
Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "TablaBeatz"
But this leads us to another seemingly unrelated aspect of tabla technique, the wrist. Most tabla players unconsciously realize that playing with the wrist in a straight position is the best thing to do. Unfortunately many beginners have a tendency to use all sorts of strange contortions. For some reason an excessive ulnar flexion or hyperextension is common among beginners. Now because of some quirk in evolution, the flexor digitorum profundus not only flexes the fingers but is also one of the muscles used to flex the wrist. Therefore peculiar wrist positions impact a person's ability to consistently deliver a forceful strike to the dayan.
Hello David, it has been a while since I chatted with you like this on the forum. I would like a little more insight into the above thought.

My observations concur with your statements above in the form that:
1. All professional Tabla players leverage their wrist extensively.

2. A commonality that I have observed is that their wrist, besides being strong and perfectly parallel to the ground level, firmly floats or hovers slightly above the surface of the drum. Or, shall I say the natural position of the wrist is parallel to the ground and above the surface of the drum with straight arms respective to the angle of the fingers given a bol sequence. This angle of attack may change depending on the bol sequence, however the arms are always straight to the wrist, the wrist is always parallel to the ground and the natural position is slightly above the surface of the drum.

3. There is a very fast response with the perpendicular movement of the wrist depending on the bol sequence (emphasized Na for example) where the wrist drops below the Gajra for a particular bol and then comes back to the natural level, which is again perfectly parallel to the ground and 1-2" above the surface of the drum.

Most students ignore the wrist element completely. Most students play with their wrist below or at the Gajra level. For the ones that try to keep the wrist slightly above the surface of the drum, turn and twist their arms. Some that are able to maintain the above mentioned natural position of the wrist are not able to sustain it dur to physical limitations.

Your general thoughts on my observations? Your tips, suggestions, experiences on the ideal placement of the wrist?
0
david

Administrator
Registered:
Posts: 526
Reply with quote  #9 
I agree. Especially the part about the beginner's tendency to have the wrist below the plane of the dayan (hyperextension) I think that this says it all.

Peace

David Courtney
0
TablaBeatz

Registered:
Posts: 342
Reply with quote  #10 
Excellent Discussion everyone! Great to shed light on topic rarely discussed! A lot to digest - especially with David's fantastic write up and all the science behind it all!

Quote:
Originally Posted by "david"
The little finger will never help you, therefore it is a question of having a placement that does not hurt you. In particular you should resist any temptation to keep the little finger raised, and simply let it move along with the ring finger.
.... This shallow split means that any attempt to flex the ring finger will automatically flex the little finger
1) Great advice David. I have noticed that my pinky finger emulates the ring finger - and this was what I wanted to clarify! Particularly when I flex the ring finger the pinky finger flexes too - so thanks for clearing that up - and your advice to let the pinky finger move along with the ring finger makes sense.
By suggesting to "resist any temptation to keep the litte finger raised" --> I assume you mean to let the pinky finger rest as appropriate on the tabla and have it follow what the ring finger does - and not have it flexing seperately from the ring finger.
Quote:
Originally Posted by "david"
If you look around YouTube you will see people playing with the ring finger extended, but this is really a poor technique.
If I understand correctly, david is mentioning that players keep the ring finger straight 100% of the time and do not utilise flexing of the ring finger (i.e. to bring out that sweet Tin bol) -

Again thanks so much for sharing David - really helps us all improve our knowledge and understanding !
Quote:
Originally Posted by "david"
If the ring finger is kept in position, the sound will be pure and more controlled, but not as loud. If the ring finger is suddenly raised it will produce a louder more resonant sound as the lower order resonance modes begin to express themselves at the end of the event. Neither way is right or wrong and it is all a question of what sort of sound you wish to produce.
2) David, your second lesson on modes/antinodes brings me back to physics class! But again an intersting one - I think I follow what you are saying here -
by mentioning the ring finger as raised - I assume you are again referring to flexing of the ring finger (i.e. to bring out that louder tin bol).

3) David and hbajpai - thank you so much for raising the topic of wrist position. This is critical and also somewhat neglected in my personal practice sessions (which I have to work on).
Quote:
Originally Posted by "hbajpai"
A commonality that I have observed is that their wrist, besides being strong and perfectly parallel to the ground level, firmly floats or hovers slightly above the surface of the drum.
hbajpai - this sounds like correct technique - thank you for sharing.

Pascal - thank you for sharing the videos - was interesting to see how Tafoo khan strikes a bol with his pinky!

If anyone has anything else to comment or share - please do - also if the summaries I have presented in this post are wrong!
Thank you!

__________________
"The beginning of life is rhythm. When you’re in the womb your mother’s heart is beating at (about 90) decibels ... we were born of vibration 13.7 billion years ago with the explosion of the universe."
0
Previous Topic | Next Topic
Print
Reply

Quick Navigation:

Easily create a Forum Website with Website Toolbox.