Sankar Ghosh

Tabla

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Tabla is a fascinating rarity in Indian classical music: two pieces for solo tabla (the Indian tuned drums). Typically, tabla are used to accompany a melody instrument like the sitar, but the drums are capable of producing about 20 combinations of tones and voices ranging from a low "bwop" sound to a high "ting" noise; they are completely capable of sustaining a rich musical pattern. Actually, the tabla tradition represents these drum sounds with syllables like the ones described above. These syllables, called bols, act as a notation and as a means of transmitting the musical patterns from one musician to another. When he plays solo, Sankar Ghosh will sing a cycle of bols so the listener can fix the basic pattern in his or her mind before it is elaborated on. Elaboration is the name of the game here, and although you can groove on the bare sounds, like an hour-long Keith Moon drum solo, to fully appreciate this music one has to listen with kind of attention one might give to a Bach fugue. The music on here is not organized into ragas, like much of Indian music, but instead into rhythmic cycles called tals, of which there are two on the album. Definitely for the advanced listener of Indian music or the serious percussion aficionado.