Before we were married, my wife and I spent a year traveling through Northern India. Towards the end of the trip I purchased the beautiful drums you see in the photo. They are called tabla, and are the most difficult instrument I’ve ever tried to play. However, even harder than playing tabla, is tuning them. During our trip, I did take some informal lessons here and there to pick up basics that I could continue to practice on my own, but what I completely forgot to learn was drum maintenance of any kind. Back home on my own, my attempts at tuning of course resulted in a broken drum head. This was almost ten years ago, and though I did search online for help then, there wasn’t much available. Well, it’s time for round two.
My graduate course has challenged us to learn something that we’ve always wanted to know how to do. First, I will learn how to tune the drums which are still intact (pictured). Second, I must learn to identify the correct pitch of my drums when they are in tune. Individual tabla have one pitch to be in tune, if your song doesn’t match your drum’s pitch, you’ll need a different drum. For my grand finale, I will reskin and tune my third drum, the head of which I broke so many years back. It will lay in its pile of camel hide straps no longer!
Yet, there is a catch to this assignment. We may only use free online resources, like YouTube and online forums, for instruction to achieve our goals. After just a quick browse, I came across many excellent tutorials and forums that were nowhere to be found my first time around. My primary source for tuning goes by the name of John Boswell. With such resources I’m certain this goal will be attainable in the allotted four week period. Also, for some extra motivation, my son has fallen in love with music and drums and is very keen to see the third drum fixed. I’m pretty sure he will not tolerate failure.