Pakhawaj and Tabla Bols (Syllables)

The use of syllables for sounds produced on the tabla (and pakhawaj) is vital for learning and performing. Unfortunately, hard evidence about the evolution of these syllables is still greatly lacking.

The pakhawaj, long before Arabic invasion into India, utilized a system of syllables for rhythms. These drum syllables were then adapted directly to the tabla with several other tabla syllables evolving to support the lighter qualities of the up-right drums. Yet the question of who, when and how these syllables evolved is still a mystery.

Many believe that the sounds of nature inspired the creation of these pakhawaj and tabla bols. Indeed, the chirping and clattering of birds, or the heavy walking of the elephants feet, or the rustling a stampeding herd of animals may have provided the basis for these syllables. The application of such natural sounds interpreted to the drums is profoundly possible.