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BY JAN HAAG







XX. KAIDA IN TINTAL, Tabla Covers


Single strand Persian wool, double strand Appleton wool, and gold thread, on 18 mesh canvas:
Baya (left drum) cover, 10 1/8 x 10 1/8," approximately 33,216 stitches
Tabla (or Daya, right drum) cover, 6 3/8 x 6 3/8," approximately 13,168
Continental stitch in all four directions
March to October, 1995


It was my privilege for three years to study North Indian Classical music at the Ali Akbar College of Music with two of the world's finest musicians: vocal with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, and tabla with Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri.

The design for these drum covers is a tabla composition -- a Kaida in Tintal, the first composition I learned from Swapanji -- transposed into visual pattern. Each square in the central pattern represents a beat. There are sixteen beats to a line. The first two lines read:



dha te te dha te te dha dha te te dha ge dhi na ge na
dhe te dhe te na dhe te dhe te dha ge na tu na ke na

This theme begins near the top of the baya (larger) cover and runs under the white lettering in the middle of the top -- which spells "Kaida" in the Devanagari of Sanskrit. On the two covers, there are seven variations and a tihai. Both are bordered with the Tintal (one square equals one beat) and Chautal (two squares equal one beat) thekas entwined:

Tintal: dha dhin dhin dha | dha dhin dhin dha | dha tin tin na | tete dhin dhin dha

Chautal: dha dha din ta | tete dha din ta | tete kata gadi gene

Chautal is a more ancient Tala then Tintal and its theka, at times, is played before playing Tintal. OMs are included as the original sound, the sound of creation. The theme and seven variations read down the baya cover, down the tabla cover, and then around the baya cover's border. The white squares denote sam (pronounced "sum"), where the first and the last beat become one.

"Tabla" (which refers both to the small drum or the two drums together) is, perhaps, the most complex of all instruments to master. My motive in trying to play tabla was to begin to understand it more than I could by just listening. I had no idea that practicing would open an entirely new world for me. As Swapanji sometimes describes the study of tabla: "Tabla is like an enormous hall, in which there are an infinite number of rooms to explore. You can explore forever."

From my very first tabla lesson, and even before -- though I had trouble analyzing the rhythms -- I could "see" the patterns of the bols and visualize the designs of the words/strokes of the compositions. However, it was only as I worked on the design that I began to realize how much information must be encoded in each bol. Therefore, not only each color, the shade of each color, and the shape and design, but the direction of each stitch in these tabla covers are "coded". Still, much necessary information was left out. A long term goal is to design a visual syllabary of tabla strokes/bols, with each bol large enough -- about the size of the daya cover -- to encode the true intricacy of each stroke.

Even though I no longer practice the tabla, I wander every day in that vast hall, continually catching my breath at the vast and indescribable beauty of music -- both melody and rhythm -- which I have now, forever more, the privilege of improvising as visual designs.


The Sanskrit at the lower right on the left cover spells: "Swapan," that on the right cover: "Chaudhuri." The tabla covers were to be a present for Swapanji's fiftieth birthday in March, 1995, but it took eight months to complete them. So they were given to him on Diwali, the Indian New Year.






Photograph of the Tabla Covers on Swapanji's drums by Craig Kolb:








Copyright © 2010 through 2015 by Jan Haag
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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The Needlepoints

I The I Ching

II The Unicorn

III Green Pillow

IV Armrests

V Narcissus

VI Chinese Chair Pillow

VII Great Grandmother's Legacy

VIIa OM

VIII Octagonal Beanbag

IX Flora and Fauna Beanbag

X Asian Diary #1, Kundalini

XI Asian Diary #2

XII Tibetan Yantra Beanbag

XIII Kalachakra

XIV Eye of Horus Amulet

XV Erika Sachet

XVI Needlepoint-Cattipoint

XVII Palimpsest

XVIII Cantalloc

THE FOLLOWING NEEDLEPOINTS ARE BASED ON THE RHYTHMS AND MELODY OF

NORTH INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSIC

IXX Tintal Coin Purse

XX Kaida, Tabla Covers

XXI Tukra, Tabla Covers

XXII Mukhra-Tukra-Chakradar

XXIII The Ten Thats






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21st CENTURY ART, C.E.-B.C., A Context







TEXTILE ART + MUSIC + POETRY + TRAVEL + FICTION + ESSAYS

INTRODUCTION + HAAG'S BIO