Newsletter August 2010

1. Tabla Backpack
- New in our Assortment -

Good tablas are relatively heavy and bulky and therefore hard to carry in cases or bags. Cases with wheels can be a way of getting along with this problem. Another solution is our tabla gig back in backpack format.

The tabla backpack has been developed by our supplier Paloma. They have fitted their tabla gig bag with adjustable shoulder straps instead of the common hand straps and changed the position of the zip. That way the gig bag can be carried on the back like a normal backpack – the hands remain free. Now you can ride a bike with your tabla, walk longer distances across uneven ground or carry some other luggage as well. With a weight of just 650 grams the tabla backpack is only a very small extra burden. And when you prefer not to carry it on your back for some reason, you can simply shorten the straps and use them as a handle. The tabla backpack is loaded with the baya head first – skin down. The tabla is positioned sideways on top of the baya. The rings are used as a padding and to keep the tabla in place.

Pictures of the tabla backpack.
Infos on other tabla cases and tabla bags made of various materials:
Artifficial Leather
Gig bag

Tabla backpack – 49.- Euros (plus shipping)


2. DVD-Set for Khol, Manjiras & Harmonium
- New in our Assortment -

The 4-DVD-set Devotional Music Lessons offers a complete introduction to the traditional Bengali performance practice of the clay drum khol (here called mrdanga), the harmonium and the cymbals manjira (here called kartal) – as well as a rich collection of music from the Hare Krishna movement. The movement originates in East Indian Bengal, has spread around the world in the past 50 years, and mainly worships the Hindu god Vishnu in his incarnation as Krishna. The Hare Krishna movement became famous in the West for its bald monks, chanting and dancing ecstatically in the streets. Its music is based upon classical North Indian as well as specific Bengali traditions, with both catchy and complex melodies and rhythms. The DVD-set has been produced by members of the Hare Krishna movement and contains some ritual elements that should be ignored by viewers with purely musical interests. The presentation in English sometimes seems rather improvised. However, the presented material offers a unique abundance of authentic information and is highly interesting for all percussionists with a soft spot for Indian grooves, for kirtan singers, for Krishna devotees, and of course for all harmonium-, khol- and manjira players.

DVD 1: Mrdanga Lessons (khol) – running time 87 minutes:?5 lessons with Krishna Kirtana Dasa and Nityananda Prana Dasa: holding position, mridanga mantra, playing techniques with rhythm syllables (bols), stroke combinations, asawari (8 beats), kaharva (8 beats), tihais (finishing formulas with 3 repetitions), karfa (16 beats) and jhati (4 beats). Completed by some bhajans with singing, harmonium, mrdanga and kartals.

DVD 2 Harmonium Lessons – running time 113 minutes:?8 lessons by Vaiyasaki Dasa in traditional Indian melody playing for vocal accompaniment in key c#: fingering, various scales, basic technical exercises and simple melodies. The lessons are followed by 14 more complex pieces with demanding accompaniment to play along with for advanced musicians. Moreover there are 4 challenging Visnujana pieces with Sunanda Dasa.

DVD 3 Kartal (manjira) – running time 36 minutes:?Krishna Kirtana Dasa demonstrates holding position, playing techniques, various songs, and basic rhythms in 6, 7, 8, 12, and 16 beats.

DVD 4 Sri Prahlad Harmonium Melodies – running time 90 minutes:?Sri Prahlad presents 30 sung melodies for the Hare Krishna maha mantra, with demanding harmonium accompaniment in D and E in mid tempo speed, as well as 7 melodies for hymns called pranama. He also gives an introductory speech on intentions and practice of chanting and kirtan singing in the Hare Krishna movement.

Devotional Music Lessons, 4-DVD-set in sturdy plastic box – 26.90 Euros (plus shipping)

More teaching DVDs on harmonium, percussion, etc


3. Music Book for Kirtan Singing
- New in our Assortment -

Kirtan is the name for the call and response singing between lead singer and devotees in some of India's spiritual traditions. It is often accompanied by instruments like harmonium and tabla. In the West, guitars are frequently used to support kirtan as well. Kirtan singing is often described as a joyful method of expanding consciousness. Many people find kirtan singing especially in a large and enthusiastic group very inspiring and uplifting. But of course kirtan melodies can also be sung alone at home.

The Kirtan Music Book, in practical landscape format and with spiral binding, is a rich collection of nearly 70 well-known and popular mantras, sanskrit prayers and spiritual songs. The melodies are given in Western staff notation. For people unfamiliar with staff notation, the names of the notes are given in letters underneath the notation. And directly below these letters is the actual text. Suggestions for chord accompaniment are given above the notation with common chord letter symbols. The melodies and rhythms are kept relatively simple on purpose. Many pieces are notated in two alternative keys, so that users can pick the key best suitable to their voice. The book is completed by short introductory texts in German, an index, and various pictures of Indian deities. The Kirtan Music Book is a great tool for beginners and musical amateurs for its easy accessibility, and can certainly give some new ideas to experienced musicians as well.

Kirtan Music Book, 113 pages – 12.80 Euros (plus shipping)


4. Bolscript – Software for Tabla Compositions
- Opensource Programme by Hannes Oud -

Bolscript is a free open source programme for entering and managing tabla compositions of all kinds. The compositions are entered in a simple text-based structure. They are displayed in relation to the chosen tala and speed in an easily readable way. The display can also show devanagari or combine several strokes (e. g. dha ge ti te -> dhagetite) in order to get a better overview. Entered compositions are shown in a list and can be found with a quick search function when the list gets longer. You can enter any part of the composition (e. g. "dha ge ti te", or short "dgtt") and the search function will show all those compositions containing this sequence. All compositions can be saved in pdf-format for easy printing and mailing as well. When entering new compositions, previous sequences of it can be re-used, repeated, shortened, changed in speed or varied, strokes can be stressed, footnotes and commentaries can be added, etc. Bolscript does not support any kind of audio playback of the compositions, though.

I have so far tried Bolscript on Mac OS X 10.6 and Windows XP. Main requirement is an up to date Java installation. More details and the programme itself at:

I look forward to any feedback! And if there is any Java programmer amongst you – co-operation would be great!

– Hannes Oud,

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