Published June 1, 2020 | Version v1
Conference paper Open

Demystifying tabla through the development of an electronic drum


The tabla is a traditional pitched two-piece Indian drum set, popular not only within South East Asian music, but whose sounds also regularly feature in western music. Yet tabla remains an aural tradition, taught largely through a guru system heavy in custom and mystique. Tablas can also pose problems for school and professional performance environments as they are physically bulky, fragile, and reactive to environmental factors such as damp and heat. As part of a broader project to demystify tabla, we present an electronic tabla that plays nearly identically to an acoustic tabla and was created in order to make the tabla acces- sible and practical for a wider audience of students, pro- fessional musicians and composers. Along with develop- ment of standardised tabla notation and instructional educational aides, the electronic tabla is designed to be compact, robust, easily tuned, and the electronic nature allows for scoring tabla through playing. Further, used as an interface, it allows the use of learned tabla technique to control other percussive sounds. We also discuss the technological approaches used to accurately capture the localized multi-touch rapid-fire strikes and damping that combine to make tabla such a captivating and virtuosic instrument.



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2220-4806 (ISSN)