In the 14th episode of our series on tabla accompaniment to Hindustani music and dance, we will listen to a few tracks that feature songtexts pertaining to Holi. Last week, we had included tracks that had the holi or hori form sung in a manner similar to the bol banaav thumri. Today, we have compositions that are adapted from or inspired by folk songs but are rendered with improvisation.

The tabla in this case plays a role akin to the dholak, an instrument that is integral to folk music in northern India.

The first track is a daf ki holi or a holi that is originally sung with the accompaniment of the daf, a frame-drum, and the song-text also includes mention of the daf. This is sung by the celebrated vocalist Begum Akhtar. There is no daf accompaniment in this case, but the tabla plays a similar role. The composition is set to the eight-matra Kaherva taal.


The second track is a rasiya sung by well-known thumri exponent Shobha Gurtu. The composition is set to Kaherva. She is accompanied by Purushottam Walawalkar on the harmonium, Aneesh Pradhan on the tabla and Indru Atma on additional percussion.


One of India’s leading tabla players, Aneesh Pradhan is a widely recognised performer, teacher, composer and scholar of Hindustani music. Visit his website here.

This article is based on Pradhan’s book Tabla: A Performer’s Perspective.