Considering the oldest and newest theories of Linguistics, it is indeed nothing new to state that language is arbitrary. Though we find several advantages of structured languages, it is an agreeable fact that the signified and signifier in a language do not have any particular relationship. Since the age of Aristotle, all linguists had worked upon forms and substances and to the time of Ferdinand El Saussure, it was quite established that language is a manifestation of signs, formed and accepted by a community for a particular structure as an instrument of naming concepts for communication.



The two main elements of a language are Prosody and Rhetoric.



Among these, Prosody determines the subtle rhythm in speaking any language. This rhythm is all pervading in the world. If one may look at it, from a wider point of view indeed, the cosmic discipline that the planet works in can also be considered as a particular rhythm. 



For instance, if we take three certain disciplines :


1. 6/8 beat rhythm in Western Classical Music

2. Having breakfast at 8 am regularly.

3. The formation of the calendar year due to revolution of the earth.



Considering all these, we may conclude that the time interval between particular events increases gradually. One may easily conclude by saying that, as the time interval increases, the body does not respond to the rhythm and therefore it gets considered as a discipline. This technical affinity that both the disciplines have in them may easily consider this as a game of terminology and nothing else.



Coming back to the application of Prosody in language, I would firstly refer to the form of poetry.


Poetry in any language has explored rhythm in various ways. There are forms such as lambic pentameter used by Shakespeare and Milton in their works:


Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May;

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date


– William Shakespeare, Sonnett XVIII



And there are also works in Trochaic Tetra Meter and several others in various languages. These rhythms are very similar to the Time Structures or Taals ( as we call them) in Hindusthani Classical Music. We may easily call the Lambic Pentameter as Anaghat Jhaptaal and Trochaic Tetrameter as Teen Taal in different forms of expression and application.



As far as Rhetoric is concerned, the arbitrariness of any language makes the linguistic approach wider in this case. Rhetoric is used to communicate the exact interpretation that is intended to communicate. In case of misinterpretation, the communication is considered incomplete. Therefore the choice of words and construction of sentences become important. 


My question about the whole process lies in the importance of intonation and contextual relationship between words in a sentence. We have also heard of bilingual works which create a comparative philological approach to this question. Knowing any one language in bilingual poetry would also enable you to understand the other, through contextual relationship between words.



The language of Tabla or Padhant was formed to document the compositions of Tabla for future teaching and preservation. Gradually the language started evolving as a gibberish language amidst the intonation and dynamics added to it while conversing. Compositions were made according to phonetics and they eventually became a parallel form to the performance. There were several compositions interpreted with stories and legends. Though the language is very underdeveloped, it has a free form which enables any interpretation to get accommodated into it. This wing became a pivotal element in dance performances as well.



The Benaras School of Dance and Tabla came up with a very creative idea to create bi lingual poetries incorporating Tabla Bols with constructed sentences of an evolved language like Hindi. This added a new dimension to the whole genre. The works of Pt Ram Sahay, Pt Baldeo Sahay, Pt Kanthe Maharaj, Pt Hari Maharaj to Pt Kishan Maharaj, has created a researchable linguistic discourse which not only communicates the thought of poetry through rhythm and words but also creates a beautiful and original poetic language.  



An example:

Dimaka Dima Dima   Dimaka Dima Dima
Bajata Dumru Nachata Shiva
Thunna Ketak ta  Taane Dha Tat

Tat ta Tat Tat  Thei Ta Thei Thei

Bhal Chandra Dayala Ganga
Bhasm Anga Mriga Charam Pahine

Nachata Shiv Ananda Data
Dhagine Dhete Dhete  Tagine Dhete Dhete
Mridanga Bajata
Ganashke Ghatagheri Ghanakehrak Chata Kehrak ke
Tereketetak terekete terekete

Tereketetak terekete terekete

Tereketetak terekete terekete  Din Ta Dha

Dev Danav Karata Astuti – Jai Sada

Shiva Jai Sada

Dukh Door KAr  Prabhu Bhakti de Sriram me
Sukh Kar sada  Sukh kar sada

Dukh Door Kar  Prabhu Bhaki De Sri Ram me

Sukh Kar sada  Sukh kar sada

Dukh Door Kar  Prabhu Bhakti De

Sri Ram Sri Ram Sri Ram


– Pt Hari Maharaj (mid 20th century)


Observing such inter linguistic innovations in this particular field may make one curious to explore the space explicitly and also study the social and political inlfuences which have worked upon these creations. As a virgin space, the primary motive is to archive all such available works. Secondly, to analyse the linguistic discourse that lies within and can get recognized as an individual linguistic discourse. Finally it would be a great stydu to understand the communal requirements and catalysts behind these creations.



1 thought on “THE LANGUAGE of TABLA”

  1. Ashok Guha Roy

    Heavily philosophical issues and hard nut to spill about. However any day may it take it’s own way to reciprocat.
    Thank you

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