Sunday, December 15, 2013


oof. I've been neglecting this blog. :(

Here's a short video of a tabla demo I did in an Autorickshaw concert.

This is an adaptation of a tisra nadai (3 subdivisions of the beat, aka triplets) version I learned from Pandit Suresh Talwalkar. The phrases of the triplet version are 6-7-8, and I added another 7, and put it into Chatusra nadai (4 subdivisions of the beat).

If you're playing in a 7 beat cycle, you can play phrases of 7 in any subdivision, and it will always fit. Example:
single speed (7 subdivisions): phrase of 7, w one stroke per beat.
double speed (14 subdivisions): 2 phrases of 7, 2 strokes per beat
triple speed (21 subdivisions): 3 phrases of 7, 3 strokes per beat
quadruple speed (28 subdivisions): 4 phrases of 7, 4 strokes per beat

So, looking at the last one: 7-7-7-7, using TakitaTakadimi (subdivided 3,4) as a generic phrase. The beats are on underlined bols, and accents on capitalized bols (Ta):

Now...lets steal one microbeat from the 1st phrase of 7, and give it to the 3rd phrase of 7, which gives us:

It still adds up to 28, will still fit in the tala perfectly.


I'm quite fond of this tihai, which has a built in delay! ;)

I will be in India this winter, learning, playing a gig or 2, and hopefully recording some new material for my solo album. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Bass Veena and Tabla demos

Hi folks,

Quick post with a pair of demo videos I made recently with bass veena player Justin Gray.
What's bass veena you ask? Crossbreed a Rudra Veena and a fretless bass and there you have it. No sympathetic strings, but there's a Swarmandal on board, and a pair of chikari strings, so it has a very cool hybrid sound. You might remember the bass veena from this 12-minute festival of weirdness here.

Not much to say except it's fun to make these super-short demos, but challenging as well...from alap to final tihai in 4-5 minutes is hard! O.o...but, with the abysmally short attention spans of most people* today, a demo video longer than about 4 minutes is simply not going to get watched. I will post a concert video as soon as we capture a good one.

The first video is in Raga Kedar, and has a short alap, a gat in vilambit tintal, and a 2nd gat in drut tintal. There's a one-cycle kaida in the vilambit: hellogoodbye!

The 2nd is in Raga Charukesi, and dives straight into a madhya laya tintal gat, followed by a gat in drut tintal. I play a kathak paran to finish the madhya laya section: Kttk tun tun nateteTa...

Justin would like to thank his Guruji Shantanu Bhattacharyya, and I am always very grateful to all of my teachers over the years. This artform is pretty much impossible without expert guidance.

Thanks for watching!

*present company excluded...if you're reading a tabla blog, you probably have not only abnormally-long attention spans, but pathological levels of patience as well. :)

PS I shot a video of Justin talking about the bass veena at the Cycles project in March...perhaps I should dig that out of the ol' harddrive...hmm. Soon.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Another solo in Chartal Ki Sawari...longer this time

Hello all,
New video from a concert I played the other night with sitarist Chris Hale:

You might recognize some of the material from these previous posts, but there's a bunch of stuff I haven't played or recorded before. Compositional types abound: mukra, paran, kaida, gat & chakradar. With lots of recitation.


I learned most of the material I play here in a workshop with Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, and it's all so very beautiful...the way the compositions follow the contours, and especially the sawari (little 'ride' on the last 3 beats of the tala) is really a joy to practice and play. I hope I do it justice.

Tabla has basically 2 types or extended families of composition: improvised, and fixed. I ramble on about the improvised forms (peshkar, kaida, kaida-rela, rela etc) a lot on this blog, so now it's time to focus on the short forms: mukra, gat, paran and chakradar.

I think of these forms as poems...rhythmic poems. One does not tend to improvise on them, though it's common to re-compose, or elaborate on one particular composition to put it in a different tala, or to just make a series of them that are all related. Some compositions have probably hundreds of versions, and every tabla player knows one you've never heard before. Still...they're fixed, not improvised.

The performance practice, unlike the long-forms, is to recite the composition first, then play. The poetry of these compositions lies equally in both realms... the vocalizations, if done well, can stand alone, are very lyrical, and can really illustrate the phrasing, grammar and flow, while the playing part operates on a completely other, abstract hear a set of words (bols), then a musical or sonic representation in which you can 'hear' the words, but the real magic is that the drum sounds will set up accents and patterns that are not audible in the spoken language. One composition might, for example, have a progressive use of the open 'tun' stroke (open RH drum sound): 'tun' can be played alone (tun, di) or combined with open or closed baya (thun, dhin, dhen) and are grouped in combinations with a dizzying array of 'words' or longer phrases: dheneghene, gedighene, dhenegheran-ne, dighene, teteketagedighene, dhenetage, takedhene etc etc and when this happens, it's almost like another level of reality is exposed...the Matrix of Tabla! omg. Did I just go there? I really did. Tabla players DEFINITELY took the red pill ;)

So...the forms:

Mukra is a short composition, usually made up of bols from Pakhawaj. I think of mukras as small flourishes leading into sam...they're not usually a main-course type of composition, but can be very beautiful nonetheless. There is usually a tihai at the end of a Mukra. Mukra means 'face', but I'm not sure how that relates to tabla...perhaps it's more of a glance, or a glimpse of a face? Maybe a mischievous flare of the eyes.

Paran: compositions made up of pakhawaj and/or dance bols, including an ending tihai. Some of these bols are super obscure and cool... 'tunga', for example is pretty awesome, as is this entire phrase:
Ta--watun-ga-wa-tun-ga-dugga dugga tun-ga

Parans can also include entire words, and can take the form of prayers or invocations to Hindu deities. (see if you can find the album 'Masters of Tala -Raja Chatrapati Singh Pakhawaj Solo' for some AMAZING parans... wow)

Chakradar: basically a thukra or a paran (including tihai) that is repeated 3 times (aka Chakradar tihai). So, kind of a giant SUPER-Tihai. The real fun is that there are sub families of Chakradar, with carfully math'd out placements of 'dha' in relation to sam (1st beat). I'm not sure how to explain these at the moment...and besides, they deserve their own post. Later.

Gat: the king of tabla compositions (in certain Gharanas/styles anyway). Gats are super complex poetical forms that often (but not always) do NOT have a tihai. They're so cool, they don't even need a tihai. ;)

Gats often have virtuosic combinations of strokes (they can be quite long...blistering streams over many cycles), can change speeds (eg from chatusra (4s) to double tisra (6s) to misra nadai (7s) etc) all in one composition. There are gats that repeat each bol 2 or 3 or even 4 times in a row: dhenegheran-ne dhenegheran-ne gherenagedhene gherenagedhene etc;, there are gats that rhyme the ends and beginnings of phrases (i.e. finish with a tun, start with a tun, finish w a dhet, start with a dhet etc); the same phrase in 3 or 4 different speeds and on and on. Super rich creative soil, the gat. I do a couple gats in this solo.

Gats are also improv friendly...there are Gat-Kaidas, for example, where the body of the gat becomes a theme for improv. Amazing.

So, here's a time'd, absurdly detailed breakdown of what's happening in this solo:

0:00-2:15 Chris plays alap in Raga Jaunpuri (introduction of the raga, or melodic mode) *at 0:23 I get my list of compositions...basically a sheet that reminds me what I want to play, and in what order, as it's easy to forget in the heat of the moment, for me anyway. The entire compositions are not written there...just the first lines, so I know what's what.)

2:15-2:20 I give Chris the tempo

2:20 Chris starts the lehara (from beat 9) and I mark the first sam, and then adjust my mic stand, which is too low :P

tihai into the next cycle at 2:33, where i show the audience the 11 beats (I've talked about the tala cycle before starting, so now they can hear the pulse and the sawari in action) Chartal ki Sawari is broken down 2-2-2-2-1.5-1.5, and those 1.5s give the last three beats a very cool feel...the Sawari, or 'ride'.

2:43 theka, introducing the baya on beat 9

2:52 mukra (note how he tihai follows the sawari at the end of the tala *swoon*...but then again, ALL the tihais do that!)

3:02 first full cycles of theka (Dhin terekite Dhin na Thun na Kat Ta, and Chris improvises for a few cycles, still setting the mood.

3:58 Paran (my adaptation of something I know in tintal), followed by theka, and then a variation of the theka Swapanji taught that is very similar to Ektal (a 12 beat cycle, and an example of a subtle sense of humour ;)

4:34 Paran (from Swapanji), followed by Theka

5:00 Kaida (everything following this is from Swapanji unless noted), starting with single speed, introducing double, then full double, finishing with a tihai and theka (there always theka! the tabla version of idling, or grooving...won't mention it again)

7:26 Gat, recited a couple time then played. This is a Di Padi Gat, meaning that each phrase is played twice, flowing right into...

8:18 another Gat, that finishes with a phrase in Tisra nadai, right into...

8:52 a sort-of-kinda rela I made up on the spot, and barely survive...this is the tabla equivalent of drifting in a're skidding and sliding, still moving forwards, somewhat in control, but maybe not entirely :P My notes simply said 'improv on tisra gat phrase'

9:41 Mukra, recited and played a couple times...lovelovelove this composition! Din Din NaNa kitetake....and those 'Nas' are open Na's...on the rim of the drum, not regular types...mos def a pakhawaj bol.

10:39 Paran, recited and played a couple times...the tihai is some very challenging technique...many many repititions at slow slow speed to get it right, and keep it intact at top speed: Dha - kitetake din . ghere Dha

11:20 Gat. MONSTER Gat. 2 cycle beast of a Gat. Very beautiful composition, but hard. Recite, playplayplay. I kinda break the rules here btw...Gats are supposed to be played Bhari/Khali (like a kaida..version with bass strokes and then a version partially without bass strokes), but I wanted to try to play all the compositions 3 times in a row, you know, just to make it harder O.o

12:33 Paran, and one of my favourite parans ever! Swapanji taught us 3 different tihais for this...i'm playing the simplist one...the hardest one is crazy technical mountain climbing and I can't play it...yet. working on it. This composition is NOT about tunafish, despite what you might think.

13:32 Chakradar (aka super tihai) this one starts out with a couple phrases of 7, in 11 beats...7-11, get it? *facepalm* None of these are easy, but the 2nd palla (repeat) of this one starts on the offbeat, and crosses sam on the offbeat and finishes with a tihai in groups of 5, so yeah...hard. One of the most fun to recite though.

--speed increase--

14:59 Gat...sort of... this is an adaptation of a tintal Gat I learned from Pandit Anindo Chatterjee (I play it at 5:46 if this recording) and my version isn't really all that super...I actually met with Anindoji in Toronto the night before the concert, and he made a very nice chakradar version, but I couldn't get it stable enough to pull off in concert that quickly, so I reverted to my version. *sigh* Next time.

at 15:12 I launch out of the ending phrase of the gat into a Adjrada-y groove, then into a kitcheri-y* version of the Farukhabad Chalan-Kaida I recorded here and this is another wet-road drifting session...I could've played a lot longer, but I could feel the traction slipping, so I bailed into a tihai. Yup...I believe in honesty! ;) *kitcheri-y because I'm mixing in strokes not in the original composition.

16:41 Paran (I talk about this on the video). Some challenging baya work here, and I tag a tihai onto the end that is not part of the original composition Swapanji taught (apologies!) BUT! it IS made up of bols from the original composition, so hopefully that smooths the infraction somewhat.

17:40 final Paran, and it's another 2 cycle beast, crossing sam in the middle of a phrase, and with a tihai that is so precarious that a 1/4 beat error is unrecoverable. I was going to say fatal, but you can always ditch the main 'chute and go to the backup 'chute...i.e., revert to theka and try again! ;)
I tag a tihai onto this composition as well, just to really give it that 'final tihai' feeling.

and if anyone actually read all that, and followed along, get yourself a Tabla Geek patch and sew it on your kurta!

OH! aaaand, i would like to give major props to Chris Hale for his wonderful playing...this tala, and especially this tala with these rhythms is NOT easy to keep lehara for. Awesome job Chris! *Kran* hi-five.

That's all for now, thanks for reading, listening, and oh, hey! if you like what I'm doing here, feel free to buy a track, or an album...everything is over here on Bandcamp.

tata, dinginatoms

Friday, August 16, 2013

Short solo in Chartal Ki Sawari w full band

oh hello again,

Tabla solo in Chartal Ki Sawari (11 beats) with Autorickshaw quintet accompanying:

Last Friday my band Autorickshaw played a concert on the mainstage at Harbourfront in Toronto. One of the things I've wanted to try for awhile is to have a full band playing a big fat lehara. It's risky tabla can have a hard time with audibility when there are drums and guitar and bass, but this seemed to work out well. That's Justin Abedin on guitar, Dylan Bell on bass, Ben Riley on drums and Suba Sankaran grooving.

Chartal Ki Sawari is a very cool tala, and I learned all this material in a workshop with Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri a few years ago.

The theka is:
Dha . . . terekite Dhin. . .  Na . . .  Thun . . . Na . . . Kat . . . Ta . . .
Dhin . . Na . . Dhin . . Na . .

Those last three beats are what I love about this tala.

There's a kaida, a gat and a pair of parans.

Kaida theme:

Dha trekeDhetete Ghena Dha - GhenaDhatiDhage Dhinnagena
Dhatreke Dhetete Gene Dhinnagena
Dhatreke Dhetete Gene Thinnakena
The decision to recite the 'sawari' part of the composition (dhatrekedhetetegehetdhinnagena/dhatrekedheteteghenethinnakena) and the tihai was completely spontaneous, though it seems to work, so I think I'll keep it for future shows.

 The band is playing a version of the Jaunpuri gat heard in this video with sitarist Chris Hale:

My other Chartal Ki Sawari piece is this way out experiment from my upcoming album (I can't WAIT to make the video for this track):

aaaaand that's all for now!
tata, dinginatoms!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Great Northeastern Blackout of 2003 tabla solo concert:

It is Aug 14, 2003. My friend Lowell Lybarger is putting on a concert at the University of Toronto. The concert, called 'tabla Tabla TABLA!', is to be an evening of tabla solos by Toronto tabla players, myself included.

But alas! darkness descends upon the land! Dogs and cats, already living together, watch humans stumble around in the dark, and snicker silently as shins spark off low lying furniture (well...the cats do anyway). People in glowyglowy vests direct traffic at intersections with growing piles of donated food and water at their feet. I feel a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror: "Candles!?! WE DON'T OWN ANY (bleeping) CANDLES!!". Beer supplies dwindle, fridges warm and a myriad of flaming beverages are invented. Bartenders dust off long forgotten memories of Prof. Watterson's math class to settle bills for wide-eyed customers. Lovers gaze into each others eyes, hypnotized by the dancing candleflames they find there. (There is, however, no baby boom associated with this, despite the sage predictions of Toronto's other circus mayor, Mel Lastman). The concert is.... cancelled.

Here's some footage of that night.

Fastforward a few months. The lights are back on. Lowell has booked the hall again. The concert has been renamed (hilariously) 'Tabla Power!' and a large gathering of tabla players has come together to geek out and make music.

Here are some excerpts from my performance that night:


Monday, June 10, 2013

New video: Bilaskhani Trippy!

Got 12 minutes?

The video for the Bilaskhani Todi alap and multi-speed Jhaptal Kaida from a couple posts ago is finally up:

Cycles Part 7: Dance #2 from Ed Hanley on Vimeo.

Dancer-Joanie Audet

Raga Bilaskhani Todi, alapana and split-speed kaida in Jhaptal (10 beat rhythm cycle)

"It is said that this raga was created by Bilas Khan, son of Miyan Tansen. Bilas Khan is said to have created raga Bilaskhani Todi after Tansen's death; an interesting legend of this improvisation (it differs only in detail from Tansen's Todi), has it that Bilas composed it while grief-stricken at the wake itself, and that Tansen's corpse moved one hand in approval of the new melody."

Liner notes here:

Justin Gray-bass veena
Ed Hanley-tabla, baya, didgeridoo
Larry Graves, Talia McGuire-gongs
Laurie Stevenson, Wendy Fisher, Lori Fox Rossi, Vicki Persig, Christine Hein & Suba Sankaran-singing bowls and bells

Audio & video recording, editing and mixing-Ed Hanley
Not really sure what to say about it... other than layers and patterns, patterns and layers.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Tisra Triputa Tala, Saraswati & Autorickshaw concert, Fri June 7

Hello again

ain't this a pretty poster?
I don't usually post gigs on here, but I'm excited about this one for a couple reasons:
1. Autorickshaw hasn't been playing a lot of late
2. there's no drumkit on this gig, so tabla gets to step out

BUT! Never comes an  Autorickshaw tune with a tabla solo in it...

But first, concert info:

Fri June 7, 8PM
Autorickshaw at Bohemian Palace
240 Roncesvalles Ave, Toronto
$10 at the door

Suba Sankaran-voice
Ed Hanley-tabla
Dylan Bell-bass
Justin Abedin-guitar
fb event:

OK, since it's at a Yoga Studio, I think a Saraswati Slokam is somewhat appropriate (watch carefully at 4:00 for a surprise!):

Song available on iTunes and here:

Based on a Sanskrit slokam (prayer), this piece is an invocation to Saraswati, Hindu goddess of art, learning and creative inspiration. The notes used in the slokam were inspired by the three-tone Vedic Samika chant, the vocal improvisations based in the raga Megh, and the piece is set to an unusual 7-beat rhythmic cycle, tisra triputa tala.

yeah, the designer went to should see the booklet!
Saraswati Namasthubyam
Varade Kaama Roopini
Vidya-rambam Karishyaami
Sidhir Bhavatu Mey Sadaa

Padma Patra Visalakshi
Padma Kesara Varnini
Nityam Padmaalayam Devi
Samaam Pathu Saraswati

Suba Sankaran-voice
Ed Hanley-tabla, big cymbals, jingle shaker
Rich Brown-bass
Debashis Sinha-multikit, bass drum
Kevin Fox, Tom Lillington-bass voices

from Four Higher, released 16 June 2004

So... that kaida I play in the middle:

Dha - Tetekredhete Dha Tetekredhete
Dha terekitetaketerekite DhatiDhagena Thunnakena

Which is an adaptation of a Tintal composition I learned from Pt Anindo Chatterjee (put a Dhinnagena at the end of that first line, and bingo, Tintal...)

Ok, all for now. I hope any Toronto folks will come out to the show (feel free to share!), and be sure to hook up on Facebook, Twitter on join the email list (Feedburner form on the right).


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Pair of tintal micro-performances

Hello again.

Quick post with a quick video.

First off, props to Romancha Pralapa for coining the term 'micro-performance' in the YT comments. Love it. Totally stealing it. Romancha's Youtube channel is a rich source of vitamin T, including a lot of educational stuff. Thums Up!

what's for dinner? a thali of different font sizes!
This is a sort-of promo video for a series of concerts Autorickshaw co-founder Suba Sankaran and I are doing at Kamasutra Indian Restaurant in Toronto. Nice place, great food, and cool owners who really want live music to be a part of the vibe. A restaurant isn't necessarily the ideal place to gig, but, it does have a stage and PA, plus it's a totally low pressure vessel for us to cook up new music, new arrangements and try risky stuff, which is always good.

Ok, so...what have we here.

The first thing I play is a bit of a wild improv ride on the bol:

Dha - tete gherenage gherenage terekite
Dha - tete gherenage Thun - na - kerenake

but eventually I make it into the following Farukhabad Kaida:

Dha - tete gherenage gherenage tet - - -
Dha - Dha - gherenage thun - na - kerenake

which I hadn't played in forever, hence almost derailing at one point.

That 'Tet - - -' really needs to pop out to make this one work. Tet!!!!

mmmm....garlic gharana....
All kinar, but I sometimes play the 'na' in the first 'gherenage' on sur. I think it was accidentally ergonomic originally, but now I like the sound of it.

This (w italic'd 'na' on sur):

Dha - tete gherenage gherenage
Dha - tete gherenage gherenage
Dha - tete gherenage

is a fav bol of mine.

Next up we have the classic Lucknow rela:

TakaDherenage TakaDherenage Dherenage
TeteTete GheGhetete Gherenage DheneTage

I could work on this forever and never ever get it to sound as good as Pt Swapan Chaudhuri's version.

Oh, and TeteTete GheGhetete Gherenage Dhenetage? AWESOME PRACTICE BOL. Run it 108 times x 108 times and you'll be a happy camper. Getting bored? make sure you can really hear the 'dhene' open sound. Feel the burn. Great baya practice. Especially the all closed version:

TeteTete KeKeTete Kerenake Thenetake

This was the first gig of the series, and we're ramping up to adding a small keyboard (for basslines and leharas) as well as, eventually, live looping with Abelton Live.

Here's the other mini-promo video, featuring a Tamil Folk song and a pair of south Indian classical pieces (detailed info in the Youtube description):

Songs avail here:
ok, all for now!
tata dinginatoms

PS: from this evening's post-gig trip to Gerrard Street (aka Little India) in Toronto.
a friend thought that said 'Rowdy Bathrobe', which is a pretty great band name, no?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A pair of Jhaptal recordings from Cycles and more! WAY more!

Holy posting frequency Batman!

Suba Sankaran in the Cycles Space
As I mentioned, during the month of March, I ran a month-long creative collaboration laboratory (aka 'Happening') in the Arcadia Gallery in Toronto. The project was called Cycles. Basically, I moved my studio (instruments, recording studio, cameras etc) into the gallery, and recorded/ video'd/ photographed anyone who came in, doing whatever they wanted to do. This resulted in a LOT of material being recorded, among other things. (click that link for some crazy crazy stats!)

I had no idea what was going to happen, or if anyone was even going to come, so I made a rough plan: record a tabla solo (peshkar->chakradar), in various talas and shruthis, and crowd-source the accompaniment by recording and/or sampling people playing things to build leharas.

Well....people brought so much amazingness and wickedocity, I was pulled off the tabla-solo path pretty early BUT...I did record the afore-posted Tintal Peshkar video, as well as a Jhaptal Palta Theka and a completely wacked out Jhaptal Kaida.

Ready for some Palta Theka action? Here we go:

So...let's get this out of the way: non-traditional accompaniment! The credits on this piece are:
Ed Hanley-tabla, voice, udu, shaker, programming, recording, mixing
Larry Graves-Green Egyptian Parade Drum
Lisa Patterson-Duduk
Adam Ogilvie (age 2.5)-bell

This composition is an amalgam of stuff from a variety of sources, stitched together on the fly:
A Palta Theka from Pt Suresh Talwalkar
A Palta Theka from Pt Swapan Chaudhuri
Another Palta Theka from Pt Swapan Chaudhuri
Chunks of material from my lessons with mrdangam maestro Karaikudi Mani

The starting point (after theka of course) is:

Dhin - Na - - Dha - Dhin - Na - Dha - kreDha - Dhin - Na - 

and we end up at:

Dhin na Dha trkt Dhin na Dhin Dhin na
Dhin na Dhin Dhin na Tin na Dhin Dhin na

 Everything was video'd, so, when I get time, I will edit the video for this one.

What else...the G tabla I was using has a pretty significant buzz, so I decided to join it, rather than fight it, and I threw a wee bit of ye olde overdrive plugin on the tabla track. The lowlow kick-drummy sound is actually an udu drum run through major filters, and the cricketty chik chik sound is actually trashy can-lid jingles from my green Egyptian Parade Drum. oh, and Yay cheezy drum programming! And whoa...isn't the duduk just about the most haunting thing you've EVER heard??
A. Mazing.

OK! time to go to space dear readers!

Ever wondered what a Kaida would sound like with the baya at double speed, and the tabla at single speed? What about that same idea, but with 8 bayas in unison, and 8 tabla in unison? With a bass veena, didgeridoo and gongs as accompaniment? Well, your wondering-about-all-that days are OVER!

This one is in 2 parts: alap, then the kaida.


(    (  ( (( Bass Veena )) )  )    )
So, first of all, the alap...WHOA! That, ladies and gentlemen is Justin Gray playing his custom made Bass Veena. Imagine a lot of reverb when you say that, because it's amazing:
(    (  ( (( Bass Veena )) )  )    )

He's playing Raga Bikaskhani Todi, which is one of my very favourite ragas...a sombre morning raga...from the wiki:
It is said that this raga was created by Bilas Khan, son of Miyan Tansen. Bilas Khan is said to have created raga Bilaskhani Todi after Tansen's death; an interesting legend of this improvisation (it differs only in detail from Tansen's Todi), has it that Bilas composed it while grief-stricken at the wake itself, and that Tansen's corpse moved one hand in approval of the new melody.

Slightly creepy, but cool. 

So, the kaida. Guess what? It's this old chestnut again:
Dha-trekeDhinnagen Dhagetete Dhage trekeDhinnagena
DhagenaDhatreke Dhinne Dhagetete Dhage trekeThinnakena

Yup...same one I play here, here AND here. Yes. I like this kaida.

you put your left hand in,
you take your right hand out...
The how: First, i recorded the whole kaida to click in logic (you can hear it come in every other cycle or so) so I'd have a guide. Then I put a shawl over the tabla, looped the section I wanted to record, and recorded (in loop mode) the theme, each variation and the tihai, eight times each. Logic makes a new file for each loop, and stacks them, so once you're done, you have, in this case anyway, a massive wall of bayas. THEN...I did the same thing for the tabla part, but at single speed...which was a bit of a trip at times...very interesting and unexpected intersections were happening...syncopating in a whole new way. But the tihai was a problem!!: the tihai I play on baya in double speed will not work in single speed! They won't land on sam together!! tihai for the tabla part, with a Karnatic style expansion of Dhas...see if you can hear both tihais going by at the same time. Trippy!

There is some crazy patterning going on...the baya part is usually twice as long as the tabla part (because of Bhari/Khali, the tabla part is played twice for each single baya part, if that makes sense) so in this case the spread is closed: for each long baya part (bhari/khali) there is only 1 repeat of the tabla part. And now even I'm lost. Anyway. I thought it was cool.

Talia says: remember! safety first when gonging!
What friends Larry and Talia did a gong improv to an early version of the recording (before Justin recorded (  ( (Bass Veena) )  ) which involved hanging gongs from the ceiling (there was a LOT of stuff hanging from the ceiling actually) and gonging gorgeously while standing precariously on a chair and a ladder. At some point, I didgeri-did the didgeridoo and the track was didgeri-done.

But that's not all! Earlier, I sampled some folks playing bells and singing bowls are the full credits before I forget anyone:
Ed Hanley-tabla, baya, didgeridoo
Larry Graves, Talia McGuire-gongs
Justin Gray-bass veena
Laurie Stevenson, Wendy Fisher, Lori Fox Rossi, Vicki Persig, Christine Hein & Suba Sankaran-singing bowls and bells

and's a playlist of all the videos. (that link goes to the playlist, or see below...there's a 'next' button beside the play/pause button).
Each one deserves its own blog post, though not all of them are tabla-centric, they are all interesting in their own ways...poets, a dancer with Parkinson's disease, a whirling dervish, a lego stop motion animation in eleven beats! Hmm. That last one might have to get its own blog post:

Monday, May 20, 2013

Pair of Rupak recordings (plus video)

Quick post, mostly music:

I rediscovered my Soundcloud account recently ('s nigh impossible to keep track of all the places one has to post muic, video, gigs etc etc these days. sigh). are a couple things I haven't posted before:

A rupak solo I recorded, apparently, 4 years ago. I have a very dim memory of recording this, but it sounds ok. Lots of different composition types...parans, kaida, rela:

and an excerpt from an Autorickshaw tune with a Rupak kaida-rela. This is an adaptation of a composition I learned from Pt Swapan Chaudhuri. I added the rela-type elements, and it features an experimental layered vocal lehara by Suba Sankaran (daughter of mrdangam maestro Trichy Sankaran). EDIT: I played this kaida yesterday, and it's definitely a kaida, even with all the trkt fills I added. Dunno what I was thinking...I kinda rushed this post a bit. Bonus info: 2 unison tabla tracks via multitrack overdubbing:

and here's the whole song:

AND! Because why not, since it's Rupak day: a raw, early version of my Rupak kaida video:

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Double post: Heavy Metal Tabla in Chartal Ki Sawari and 30 min Jhaptal solo video

Well, it's not really heavy metal, but it's definitely not traditional...or is it?

Let's see. Traditional tala? check. Lehara? check. Theka? check. Mukra? Gat? Parans? final Charkradar tihai? checkcheckcheckcheck. Recitation? check. Screaming guitar solo? err....ummm...

Yup, passes the tradition test for me, with the one exception of the sounds, which begs the question...what makes traditional music traditional? Is it the content, vocabulary and grammar? or is it the instruments? pure sounds only? the people who play it? the time or place it is performed? what?

I bent the tabla tradition as much as I could here, and it didn't break.

So, what do we have:
The tala is Chartal ki Sawari, an 11 beat tala:
Dhin terekite Dhin Na Thun Na Kat Ta Dhin..Na..Dhin..Na..

The sawari (lit 'ride') at the end (last 3 beats) is what makes this tala so awesome. Count 'em: Tkt Tkt Tkt Tkt. You can geek-out a bit and count the tala as 3 groups of 4, with the last 4 squeezed into 3 beats:

All the tabla material was taught by Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri in a workshop in Toronto. I'm worried he may disown me after this track, but it had to be done, and as I said, I don't think I've broken the tradition at all.

All the material Swapanji taught us in the workshop followed the sawari beautifully, so, rather than just being material in 11 beats, it is all definitely material in Chartal Ki Sawari. An important, but subtle, distinction.

Material: (in order of appearance)
Mukra (gerenage terekite recitation)
Gat (takatakataka dheneghene takatakataka dheneghene...)
Paran (Dha KreDha ne Dha Dha kiteDhet Ta...)
Paran (Din Din nanakitetetaka...)
Paran (Takite Dha-ne Dha- Ge di gerenage...)
Paran (TakaterekiteTaka teteketagedighene...)
Paran (dhetedhetedhagetete recitation)
Tihai (from a kaida)

I derived the bass-synth lehara from a Jaunpuri gat that sitarist Chris Hale plays...and in fact, I play the same tihai in the video (end of kaida that starts at 0.44) and at the end of the track above. It's a little obscured by drumkit-guitar chaos above though. Here:

Ben Riley-drums
Rich Brown-bass
Justin Abedin-guitar
and I played played tabla, vox, recorded, edited, mixed etc
Mastered by Andy Krehm

OK OK THAT'S IT ! Enough hanky-pankying around with this fusion-con-fusion business!!

Here's a Jhaptal solo I played recently. Informal setting, major tabla geekage in the room:

This is a rehash/shorter version of the big Jhaptal solo I played last year, but covers peshkar, kaidas, kaida rela, a sort of palta theka-rela hybrid, parans, thukra and chakradar. Material from my teachers Pt Suresh Talwalkar, Pt Swapan Chaudhuri, Pt Anindo Chaterjee and Sri Subhajyoti Guha, who very generously organized this concert. Thanks Subho!! It should be noted: Rattan and I didn't rehearse at all, and in fact, he arrived at the hall 5 min before we started playing.


And this concludes this latest post. Thanks for reading, listening and watching. Please post your irate comments about the Chartal Ki Sawari piece below, but you should probably buy the track first ;)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

'Cycles' Collaborative Multimedia Creation Laboratory

I'm 4 days into a month-long creation process at an art gallery in Toronto.

Because this is a tabla blog here, I can geek out on what I'm trying to do, but's the first video from the project, a Tintal Peshkar with esraj accompaniment by the amazing Rattan Bhamrah:

Cycles: Part 1 from Ed Hanley on Vimeo.

So...first the project, then what's going on tabla-wise in that video.

The project (which has its own website here: ) kind of fell into my lap. The folks who book the gallery approached me to see if I would be interested in doing a show. I balked initially, as I'm a musician (and yes, photo and video are also creative languages for me) but I had no idea what I'd do for a 'visual art' show. But I though about it a bit, and thought it might be cool to record a tabla solo, 52 Kaidas style (i.e. in discreet chunks) and crowd-source the accompaniment by recording and sampling anyone who came into the gallery. Then of course, I'd have to shoot music videos for each piece, and THEN, I knew I'd have to stitch it all together into a film.

Did i mention they approached me in mid-February, and the slot they wanted me to fill started March 1st? Yeah. So...I'm still kind of forming the idea of the whole thing as I go.

Much like a Kaida, there are rules, and the fact that there are rules is actually freeing, rather than restricting.

The rules are:
1. record all the parts of a tabla solo (peshkar, kaidas, kaida relas, relas, parans, thukras, chakradars etc) but in different talas (I'm planning Tintal, Jhaptal, Chartal Ki Sawari and Rupak but who knows)

Larry, Udu-ing.
2. Everything has to be created and recorded in the, video, photos, paintings, dance, you name it (this is one place where it's completely open ended). If someone wants to come down and vocalize bird sounds while they dance around in a feathered suit, I will record it, and I will integrate it into the piece. (tastefully, of course)

3. It has to be all inclusive: if you can clap your hands once, I can sample that clap, and work it into a piece. If you can pluck one note on a guitar, you're in the piece. If you have a FACE, I will take your picture, and you will be in the piece. Open to everyone. 

4. I have to be there, ready for anything, every single day for the entire month of March. And I need to work fast. I cannot agonize over tinytiny details...this project is about raw creation, not crystalline studio perfection. I think that exercising creativity and problem solving skills is important, so this is like a month-long creative boot-camp for me.

5. Ummmm..errr... I'm sure there are more rules, but it's late, and i can't remember. The project website has it all on there already. If you're a Torontonian, stop by. It's a new adventure everyday!

OK! Tabla-time!

I just LOVE this composition!

I learned this from Pandit Suresh Talwalkar in Pune. It's a really lovely arrangement: Peshkar, flowing into a Kaida, flowing into a Rela.

Tihais popping off everywhere, really cool vocabulary, tricky rhythmic phrasing, you name it. And slooooow tempo. I kind of rush through it (and I'm glad I did...the video is over 8 minutes long, which is about 7:45 seconds too long for most of internet-enabled humanity, sadly) but I could hang out on each section for 10 minutes easily.

I'm playing a low D tabla made by Mukta Das, and a baya that he reheaded...a Benares shell that weighs a LOT, very bottom-heavy, and stable.

This is probably (but not definitely) the most traditional presentation of tabla solo material I'll be doing in this project. I'm going to be sampling random strangers, so...there could be tuba, musical saw, gosh...even bongos!

Oh...that video is downloadable! (I'll also upload it to YouTube this evening)

This blog post here talks about how it was made...

I'll cross-post significant videos and recordings here. I recorded a Jhaptal Palta Theka on March 2nd, and now just have to build to accompaniment from whoever turns up, and I have some interesting tabla material planned.

thanks for reading, and head over to Cycles!


I almost forgot:

This Cycles project is not to be confused with THIS Cycles album, by another Canadian tabla player (high-five!) by the name of Shawn Mativetsky, which you should totally check out. Very cool stuff.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Animated Kaida, TablaVision Residency March 1-31 and Feb 23 concert

Greetings dear readers!

Three announcements:

1. New Video: Animated Kaida

That was: 2 hours of planning, 16 sheets of paper with a 5x5 grid, 1 pencil, 1 eraser, 4 hours of set up, 6 takes (on 2 different tunings), 4 videos, 13 photographs, 3 hours of photoshopping and 4 hours of video editing (punctuated by fits of giggling everytime the toy autorickshaw explodes).
The Kaida:
DhageTeteKeTa TeteKeTa TeteTeteKeTa
DhaTeteKeTa DhatiDhagena DhageThunnakena

Dehli-style 2 finger Tete

I learned this from Pandit Suresh Talwalkar in Pune.

Awesome AWESOME practice. Slow it waaaay down, and dig into the Tetes. Remember that Ta=Na (NOT Ne). Believe it or not, this kaida will help your Terekite a whole bunch, but don't be gentle. Sweat, work out on it. Play the theme for 20-30 min at a time. Have fun. I play this almost everytime I practice.

A note on tempo: I chose 72 BPM for video reasons: Video framerate: 24FPS + Tempo: 72BPM= 20FPB (an even 20 frames per beat) which was easier for editing…though since I was subdividing each beat into 8, I had to make 1 frame adjustments every few beats. No matter…i'm not a machine, so I had to tweak here and there anyway.

Which leads us right into:

2. 'Cycles' TablaVision Residency

Say hi to Larry.
From March 1-31 I'm going to be moving my audio and video studio into Arcadia Art Gallery (680 Queens Quay West, Toronto) and making an album and a film. I'm not exactly sure what i'm going to do to be perfectly honest, but at the moment it looks like this: record a 2-3 minute tabla piece a day, and shoot & edit video to accompany each piece. A mix of music video and documentary I think ('sounds like a snake eating its own tail' is how one friend put it) . Plus I'll be showing photographs I've taken, incl a series I took of Haridas Vhatkar making tabla and who knows what else.

The pressure to create on a daily basis is part of the process, not to mention that the gallery will be open for a couple of hours a day, so the general public will be able to watch parts going down, editing and mixing going on, video being shot and edited. There will be several cameras kicking around the space, so people will be able to shoot photos and video, not to mention be in photos and video.

A CD and DVD will be available for purchase (as pre-order or after completion). I'll post once I figure out how to do internet pre-sales (Bandcamp…here I come).

I might make a blog so far-flung folks can follow along.

Stay tuned. It could be good, or it could be a slow-motion month-long wipeout of epic proportions!

3. Feb 23rd: Autorickshaw in concert with FreePlay Duo and sitarist Chris Hale

East Side Boom and Gerrard Art Space
1390 Gerrard St E (in the heart of Little India)

Autorickshaw, in trio form:
Suba Sankaran-voice
Dylan Bell-voice, bass, keys
Ed Hanley-tabla, voice

This video is not the trio, but Dylan did mix this tune, and we'll play it, and this crazy bird will be projected on the wall:

FreePlay Duo (a cappella vocals w loopstation)
Suba Sankaran-voice
Dylan Bell-voice

Chris Hale-sitar, voice
Ed Hanley-tabla
Chris and i will be starting the evening with some classical music, he'll join Autorickshaw on some tunes and we'll all do some Bollywood numbers:

Here's the third video from that demo session Chris and I did: Kabhi Kabhi

Chris sounds AWESOME, no?

I'm working on video projections for the whole evening (fingers crossed we can secure a projector) and hopefully we'll video the whole gig.

Should be fun.

ok, all for now,

PS oops...almost forgot! I had the amazing Justin Abedin in for a session recently...he laid down some epic guitar parts on track 2 of 10 Talas to a Disco Beat...soon come...soon come:

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sitar & Tabla demos


My friend Chris Hale and I spent an afternoon recording short promotional/demo videos, and here they are:

more stuff soon.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Kaida in Rupak Tal

Happy New Year, and I hope everyone has a stellar 2013!

Here's a quick Kaida in Rupak Tal (7 beat rhythm cycle) to ring in the new year:

So, couple things about this:

Dha-kiteDhete Dhagena Dha-
KreDhetete KiteDhete Dhagena DhageDhinnagena

I learned this from Pandit Suresh Talwalkar in Pune, on my 2nd study trip, the 'mostly Rupak' trip (as opposed to the 'mostly Jhaptal' trip).

It's a 4-parter, taking 2 cycles of Rupak once you hit double speed.

Very good practice: accenting the Ki and Kre strokes means lots of attention on the baya hand.

The math is awesome: phrases of 11 and 17

The tihai has an 11 microbeat gap, which is played, rather than just left silent:
Dha ge ge ge Di ge ge ge Ta ke ne

Rupak theka is Tin Tin Na Dhin Na Dhin Na , and can also be played 'rin-tin-tin-where's-my-din-din'

I want to post more to this blog, but it's a bit of a production to do an album-level recording every time I want to post...hiring an accompanist, mastering et cetera (esp since the blog really doesn't generate $$ at all) so, I'm going to try a more lo-fi audio-visual approach with backing tracks and/or electric mandolin as accompaniment. I'm still working on new tracks for my album, and will post those as they come up, and I still have to  finish the videos from the Jhaptal Solo in August (omg :P) but hopefully I can generate more posts this way.