So I've been playing Tabla since I was in 4th grade and I know most of the stuff about it and how to play it (like the Thekas and the Relas and the Kaaydas and all the other good stuff. I learned to play the Tabla under two teachers but they never taught me or anyone how to play the Tabla on some song or how to create your own composition using it.

I searched on the Internet and unfortunately because it is not that famous instrument in the world I found very little information on it. The thing which I found is that if you want to play the Tabla on some song then you first have to know the time signature of it and then have to choose the Theka which best fits/supports/describes the song. But I guess this information is not that useful if I wanna make my own composition. I guess you can create your own Theka for any price of music but I may be wrong. I have a group of musical instrument players and what we wanna do is to kind of convert any western melodious song to the Indian version of it. Take for example the music of Hans Zimmer. So if anyone provide information on how to do it or give a site or reference to any information on the Web or anywhere else I can find, that would be helpful.

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    Seems like a broad scope to your question. try to simplify it and break it up. For example, what is the sticking point for you specifically?
    – amalgamate
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 15:29
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    I've seen this in the past with tabla students that have studied for so many time with teachers, they know thekas, kaydas, etc. and play them well, but then they didn't knew what to do when they came to play with me (I play sitar). I don't know why that happens at all. Best thing I can say is, do it the way you feel. You don't need any answer to tell you how to do it, specially if that was not done in the past. It seems you're having a general doubt about it and I would say go and try stuff and hear how it sounds and how you feel about it. More specific questions will arise from that. Best! Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 21:52
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    "how to play it in a music composition"? It is big subject, and you have to learn it from someone, and it takes lot of years to skill the basics, and upper limit is the sky. There are certain 'notations' if you play in conventional way. Btw if you're playing for 'Indian-classic' (for-what this instrument was basically used); usually there is no pre-written "composition" as such. Better to say, what we listen is a "live-composition", so percussionists need to synchronize with rhythm that way.
    – user33689
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 18:56

3 Answers 3


You should probably listen to and play along with tabla players playing with Western music. Karsh Kale does a lot of this kind of thing.

My band, The Nettles had a club trio configuration of fiddle, tabla and drums where we did a lot of improvisation to Western 4/4 and 6/8 time signatures.

A full example of that sound can be found here. The tabla comes in after about a minute. There's also a tabla solo.

Tracks from the album we did together can be found here.


Normally many songs in Indian music are based on basic thekas like Kehrava, Dadra, Roopak. And some classical songs are based on Teentaak, Ektaal, Deepchandi etc.

So first you should know all these basic thekas, then when you listen to any songs you should be able to figure out the taal of song (i.e. Kehrava, Dadra etc) So first step is you should be able to figure out taal of song.

Next you should know different ways (thekas) or variations of that particular taal (Which you can learn from your teacher). Normally for each taal there are very few & basic variations which are normally used with song. so once you learn those variations you can identify them while listening songs.

Even if you are not able to play all variation, that is not a problem. You should be able to play one/two variations consistently with the song which should sound good.

After next thing is you should actually practice with live singer. This step is most important. Practice together as much as possible.

Lastly here is a link to my software which is very useful for tabla player, where you can write & play Tabla compositions, also you can request compositions help on email. http://vishwamohini.com/music/home.php


The use of tabla depends on the genre that u will be playing. U must watch famous tabla player Zakir Hussain. I had also used a tabla sample in my own edm music.

Listen from 1:07 So it depends on how u use ur instrument.

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