AMU Tabla instructor speaks on complex, interwoven rhythms


Aligarh : Dr Shahabur Rahman Chishti’s recent talk on the supreme happiness in the complex, interwoven rhythms of music in the online programme of the Sarb Akal Music Society of Calgary, Canada was as exhilarating as the sound of his hands pounding the Tablas in unison.

The Indian Tabla percussion Instructor at the Cultural Education Centre (CEC) of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) explained the narratives behind the Tabla music and the search for the ultimate rhythm in a lecture-demonstration consisting of a conversation with Gurdeep Singh (Co-Coordinator, Sarb Akal Music Society of Calgary), performance, and an interactive question and answer session.

As the rhythm of Dr Chishti’s words of wisdom echoed through the online platform, participants from across India and Canada enjoyed every moment of the session. The AMU Tabla Instructor at times recited the ‘Taal’ loudly and at times in a gently calming effect.

He discussed the metric cycle with a specific number of beats that recur in the same pattern throughout a musical performance.

“Music means creativity on the spot and spontaneity – that has a lot to do with an expressive element, and that comes from visualisation of the repertoire that you are representing. All the Tabla maestros and amateur musicians have to visualise in their mind when they are playing a particular rhythmic phrase or a pattern or a complete music passage of what it is showing and telling”, said Dr Chishti.

He talked about the notations and various types of Tabla beats– which form the crux of playing the instrument.

Dr Chishti described improvisation of variations on fixed themes.

“The tabla player must maintain the structure of these themes akin to poetry. The improvised variations can use only the thematic material found within the source rules followed in a gradual sequence”, he specified.

Dr Chishti further pointed out that a music career as a soloist or an accompanist depends on the kind of training people receive.

“My understanding and experience has come from accompanying many doyens of Hindustani music—and my teacher, the renowned Tabla maestro, Khalifa Ustad Afaq Husain Khan of the Lucknow Gharana has left an indelible impression on the way I perform”, he added.

Dr Chishti is also the author of ‘Fan-E-Tabla’, ‘Tabla Sanchayan’, ‘Tabla Mein Das Anko Ka Mahetv’, ‘Bhartiye Talon Mein Theke Ke Vibhinn Sworoop’ and ‘Compositions of The Great Tabla Maestros’.