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I would like to draw your particular attention to Corvin's comments on page 5 concerning "families of bols"; "kayda bols", and "rela bols".

"But the larger structures of tabla are also arbitrary in just the way that linguistic structures are arbitrary. There is no natural reason why, for example, the bol “tunakena” should be thought of as the closing line of kaydas [a type of theme-and variations composition] except that it is present as such in most kaydas. The knowledge that this is so is what allows one to appreciate the aesthetic of compositions in which “tunakena” is not used in this way. Tabla bols are used as they are because that is how people play them. The only natural limit on their combination is the ability of the tablaplayer to finger them.
Bols are grouped by performers into what may be called “families” — groups of bols that are used in similar contexts in practice. These families may overlap to some extent. It is in this sense that we speak of kayda bols as opposed to rela bols. This is clearly a practice-driven structure, and not one that could be deduced by any a priori examination of the bols themselves. (Similarly, a linguist could not deduce a particular grammar from any examination of phonemes.) The precise categorization of bols varies sharply from one musician to the next, and essentially makes the task of a global, authoritative classification of tabla bols impossible. This is not a point articulated by most tabla players. However, the fact is that beyond a core group of widespread compositions, there is no agreed upon nomenclature that is universally used to describe composition types in tabla.
Complementarily, the same term may be used by different musicians in widely divergent senses. For example, the composition
takadhere nagataka dherenaga dherenaga
tetetete gherenaga dhinetaga gherenaga

is considered a rela by some, and a kayda or gat-kayda by others. That this divergence exists, however, does not change the fact that each tabla player has a more or less clear organization of bols in his head, and can provide more or less consistent answers when asked how he would describe a particular composition." - Corvin Russell


If he could sing, and nature to accompany him, what need would he have for an instrument?
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