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Raj

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hi,

I have a few question about tabla tuning.

1. I buy a new bayan say of pitch C#. In the beginning, the dayan should be tuned in such a way that gatta are at 3/4 of the height of table or a bit higher than that, with the pitch uniformly around the rim being C#. Is this correct?

2. With 2-3 hours of practice time should this tuning last for something like 6 months (with only minor adjustments and not untying and retying the rope)? How long does it last for you?

3. Once the pitch starts going below C#, say to G# regularly, can C# be achieved by bringing the gattas down to 1/4 height or below that? I kind of notice that bringing down gattas does not change the pitch for my tabla by more than quarter note. What's your experience?

4. I have heard that initially the desired pitch should be attained on dayan without any gattas and as time passes and pudi is unable to hold the pitch, gattas can be introduced to keep the desired pitch without retying the ropes. Is this correct?

5. I have heard that I need to detune tabla and keep it after playing and retune it the next day? Does that sound right to you?

Many Thanks,
Raj.
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Tablatastic

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Raj,

You have some interesting questions. Just to help you, I am going by experience of my own so here are my answers to your points:

1. Tabla are generally sold with one strap over gatta, depending on what pitch you want and also quality of pudi if it can go higher, it can be placed over two straps in total but like I said depends on the pudi itself. From my opinion it generally doesnt matter too much initially on the gatta but they are not too way down, just generally half way. The tuning should be equal all round.


2. I have a tabla where I fitted a new pudi on 3 yrs ago and is still in pitch, gattas are now on 3 straps. I only need minor tuning. I think can depend on how the tabla is made and the tensions as well as I had also bought a tabla from India in 2010 and has been on one strap and the tuning never changes. Depends on particular tabla and how it has been made.


3. I have never experience a C# tabla go straight down to G#. Thats a big drop. Cant really comment on this but generally if the gattas are way down and cannot get back to desire pitch, I take them up and add another strap to it and that usually brings back to sur again. This should generally in my opinion happen after a while possible after 7 - 6 months but also dependant on numerous factors such as how long you playing for and usage etc...


4. I have never seen anyone playing with a Dayan without Gattas. Bayan yes but not Dayans. When tablas are purchased generally speaking they have gattas inserted on one strap and possiblity of a second depending on the tuning and pitch desired but most cases gatta inserted with one strap over.


5. This depends on weather I guess. I live in the United Kingdom and I never detune my tablas. In my opinion I dont like the idea of stretching and loosening the pudi but dont go by all of this as can vary by country to country as I know some people do detune due to hotter climates and also humidity. All depends on how hot it is but I have never needed to do this as after playing my tablas they are always half a note down and I just have to fine tune up to bring back to pitch again. No major tuning is required.


There are possibly other options which some people may do the above differently. It can vary and some people may have different opinions to myself which is fine as you can learn from experience and also from others too.
I feel the subject of maintenance and taking care of tabla is also an art form itself as you can learn as time goes on and sometmes may learn something else which can be an alternative.

Hope this helps.
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Tablatastic

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Reply with quote  #3 
Hi Khitchdee,

Would you be referring more to major tuning as I only use gattas if pitch cannot go higher by fine tuning on the gajra? From my experience fine tuning or small tuning you use gajra and major tuning use the gatta?
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Raj

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Posts: 22
Reply with quote  #4 
Thanks formthe responses guys.

Thanks Tablatastic, for taking time to answer each of my points. Wow, 3 years and still going strong. May I ask, where did you get your tabla from?

My new tabla is right now on second strap, but may be it is because the pudi is not very thick. Absolutely, maintenance is an art. I hear a lot of contradicting opinions from long time players and it's all a bit confusing.

Thank you.
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Tablatastic

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Posts: 43
Reply with quote  #5 
Hi Raj,

Youre welcome.


I have bought my tabla are from India but have bought a couple of tablas from UK to here. It all depends how they are made and what the pudi is like. Just have to find a good sounding tabla that you are comfortable with and then make sure you take care of them.

Yes peoples opionions and experiences are different. I have experienced a lot of that but end of the day I generally do what I feel is the best and the if I get good results then I carry on with that method.
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VNO Design

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Reply with quote  #6 
Tablatastic did an excellent job responding to all those questions and I want to ditto his comments as to my experience as well. I also have one older style Tabla that has not moved in pitch for 6 years. New tabla heads will have a great deal of stretch to work through at first. Once they settle and depending on all the factors mentioned (and not mentioned) an equilibrium can be achieved between the tension of the straps and the tension in the head. On this same topic, tuning only with the gattas as Khitchdee suggested is not the way to tune. The reason is due to the friction of the head against the rim of the Tabla preventing your adjustments from taking effect. For example if you move say one gatta down, the change may do absolutely nothing, then when you just tap the gajara for fine tuning it will spike upwards in pitch. That is your adjustment of the gatta finally taking effect because you overcame that friction.

To achieve optimal balance and keep your Tabla in tune the longest, you need to find that equilibrium in balance between the straps, gattas, and gajara. The most balanced configuration of straps and gattas is 2 and 4. Visually you can see this also. 1 and 3 will tend to be harder to balance and usually require more frequent adjustments. This is one of the other more subtle benefits of the TransTabla system in being able to stay on 2 straps permanently regardless of pitch needed. Back to the friction example, you can have the same delayed effect in going down in pitch. If you move all the gattas downward, then pound away on the gajara taking the pitch up as high as it will go, it will absolutely not last because only that friction is keeping it from dropping. It will slowly creep toward the equilibrium as you play it. I suspect something similar happened to your Tabla to make it take that drastic drop in pitch. If it was tuned up as high as it would go with the "fine" tuning then the only place left was down. Combine that with humidity and temperature and you could easily see a drop in several steps.

If you make a gatta adjustment, always tap the gajara in the same direction as the adjustment to settle it and see where it goes. Swapanji always says to play "tin" at the same moment you strike with the hammer. In this way you will get a very clear auditory picture of where the Tabla wants to go. If you find yourself striking up on one part of your Tabla, but down on another part to keep it in tune, then you should make gatta adjustments to correct the imbalance.

Drum tuning is complex stuff! I could go on and on but I'll stop =)

Tuning your Tabla should be part of regular practice just like playing a composition. It is a invaluable skill to have for yourself and your fellow musicians/listeners. Thank you for posting these quesitons, there is really no telling how many people out there benefit from getting them answered.

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Tablatastic

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Reply with quote  #7 
Hi Khitchdee,

I guess people go by what they have been taught. Like I said earlier, everyone has their own way of doing things. I personally prefer using the gajra as I only need to make a few taps around and it brings my drum in pitch.
If using the gattas works for you then fair do's as generally I see most teachers and players tune only using the gajra.

Kind regards
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sohummusicals

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Reply with quote  #8 
There is a gajra on a tabla just because one can fine tune the tabla to desired pitch.
If it wasn't needed tabla pudis would be made using metal rings just like how they do in naal.
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Raj

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Reply with quote  #9 
Thanks VNO for elaborate answer. This is the kind of discussion I was expecting just to understand everyone's methods and opinions.

I guess like already mentioned, tuning is complex and I need to practice to learn it.

Thank you everyone for weighing in.
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VNO Design

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Khitchdee"
There are two advantages to tuning a tabla only with the gattas:

1. It stays in tune better between sessions.
2. The life of the pudi is extended.

The disadvantage is its more difficult to do and takes some time getting used to. There's always the temptation to take the short cut and tune with the gajra, but if you resist this, it helps you in the long run.

Try it for a week and see if you like it. Once you start tuning this way, you'll never want to go back.
I don't know why there is so much insistance that gatta only tuning is the way to go. How then would you fine tune? As earlier described there is tremendous friction between the head and the rim which is to your advantage if you make small adjustments, precicely what the gajara is for as Sohu pointed out.

I would love to see you post a video of you tuning only with the gatta from an untuned Tabla. I can guarantee it would take less time to use both than to use one. What then is your hammer for? I've never seen any of the top players start striking gatta mid concert. One or two hits with the hammer will get the tabla back in tune if it is out provided your drum is balanced.

Lastly, the life of the pudi is extended by tuning period. Your point about having the gatta balanced making the Tabla stay in tune longer is correct and encouraged. It would just take so much time for the gatta adjustments to settle on most tablas that it is impractical to tune exclusively with them. It can be done, but why?

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VNO Design

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Reply with quote  #11 
No doubt you can do it Khitchdee, but my only point on the matter is why use the coarse tuning tool (gattas) for fine adjustment when you have a fine adjustment tool (gajara) right in front of you that is easier and quicker to access? I'm sure your method works just fine for practicing on your own, but do you mean that on stage you start knocking your pegs around trying to find that tiny window of adjustment while the instrumentalist waits?

The gattas provide a range of adjustment to the head where you can then fine tune. When the range you get at the head is no longer sufficient to keep the drum in balance, you readjust the gattas. Simple.

Why drive a finishing nail with a sledgehammer? You can do it, and yes it would take a bunch of practice and you would get really good at it, but it's simply not the tool for the job.

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