In the series pertaining to tabla accompaniment to Hindustani music and dance, we have so far focused on the specific role that the tabla player performs while accompanying khayal, thumri-dadra and seasonal vocal forms like chaiti, hori, kajri and jhoola.

Another form that is an integral part of Hindustani vocal repertoire is the tappa, which has been previously discussed in some detail in this column.

The tappa usually employs taals like Punjabi and Sitarkhani (also called Addha), both consisting of 16 matras or time-counts, and Pashto, which is a seven-matra taal. The tabla player is required to provide a steady rhythmic canvas playing with much restraint when accompanying the tappa, as unpredictably swift and sweeping melodic patterns leave little space for the tabla player to add embellishments or play solo passages.

In fact, any such addition may appear to be an intrusion in the larger musical context.

Here are links to tappas that are sung in the three taals mentioned above.

The first tappa is in the raag Yaman set to Sitarkhani taal. It is sung by Rasoolan Bai.


Gwalior gharana exponent Jal Balaporia sings a tappa in the raag Kafi set to Pashto taal.


The last track has a tappa in the raag Bhairavi sung by Gwalior gharana maestro Sharadchandra Arolkar. This tappa is set to the 16-matra Punjabi.


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.