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Bill Lee
Bill Lee

How To Play Basic Kathak Tatkar Beats On Tabla: A Beginner's Guide


Basic Kathak Tatkar Beats on Tabla: An Introduction to the Rhythmic Patterns of Indian Classical Dance




Kathak is one of the eight classical dance forms of India, originating from the northern regions. It is a dynamic and expressive style that combines storytelling, graceful movements, intricate footwork and musical accompaniment. One of the most important aspects of Kathak dance is the use of tala, or rhythmic cycles, that are played on percussion instruments such as tabla, pakhawaj and dholak. In this article, we will explore the basic kathak tatkar beats on tabla, which are the foundation of Kathak dance.




How to Play Basic Kathak Tatkar Beats on Tabla: A Beginner's Guide



What is Tatkar?




Tatkar is a term that refers to the basic footwork patterns performed by Kathak dancers. It consists of eight steps that are subdivided into two groups of four steps each. The first group begins on the right foot and the second group on the left foot. Each step has a corresponding syllable, or bol, that is spoken or sung by the dancer or the accompanying musicians. The bols for tatkar are:


  • Right foot: ta



  • Left foot: tha



  • Right foot: ki



  • Left foot: ta



  • Right foot: ta



  • Left foot: tha



  • Right foot: ka



  • Left foot: dhi



The tatkar can be performed at different speeds (laya) and subdivisions (guna) depending on the tala and the mood of the dance. For example, in teental (16 beats), the tatkar can be performed in single speed (ekgun), double speed (dugun), triple speed (tigun) or quadruple speed (chougun). The tatkar can also be varied by using different bols such as na, din, tin, etc.


How to Play Tatkar on Tabla?




Tabla is a pair of drums that consists of a smaller wooden drum called dayan (right) and a larger metal drum called bayan (left). The tabla produces different sounds depending on how and where it is struck by the fingers and palms. The tabla player uses a set of bols to communicate with the dancer and create rhythmic patterns that match the tatkar.


The basic bols for playing tatkar on tabla are:


  • Right hand: na



  • Left hand: ge



  • Both hands together: dha



  • Right hand followed by left hand: dhi



  • Left hand followed by right hand: dhe



  • Both hands together followed by right hand: dhin



  • Both hands together followed by left hand: dhina



  • Both hands together followed by both hands together: dha dha



The tabla player can also use other bols such as ti, re, ke, etc. to create variations and embellishments.


The following table shows how to play tatkar on tabla in teental at single speed:


Vibhag (section)Bol (syllable)Tatkar (footwork)Tabla (drumming)


X 2 0 3dha dhin dhin dhata tha ki tadha na na dha


0 2 0 3dha dhin dhin dhata tha ka dhidha na ge dhi


X 2 0 3dha tin tin tata tha ki tadha ti ti na


0 2 0 3dha dha din dhata tha ka dhidha dha ge dhi


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