Another Bayan Question

Discussions about the Indian hand-drums known as tabla.

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xavxav8
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri May 27, 2016 4:00 am

Another Bayan Question

Post by xavxav8 » Sat Jun 04, 2016 11:23 pm

What role would you say the weight of your bayan has on your ability to play well?

RobertMaya
Posts: 45
Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2015 8:40 am

Re: Another Bayan Question

Post by RobertMaya » Sun Jun 05, 2016 3:03 am

Ability to play well? None at all. I'll get into heavy tablas too if anyone cares to know.

What weight in tablas and bayans are supposed to do in general is keep them from moving when you slap them around. Imagine trying to slide on your bayan and it keeps falling over, or playing dhir-dhir on your tabla and it keeps rocking back and forth. Weight is supposed to discourage that and give stability to the drums. Somehow along the way it got confused with quality, that only good tablas and bayans are heavy - that's a load of bollocks, especially considering that the skin produces 85% of the sound quality of both drums.

Well, that's not completely true. Heavy tablas were once prized because they were old, seasoned pieces of wood, which meant they wouldn't crack or warp over time. Nowadays, it's impossible to find that kind of wood, and no tabla maker seasons their stuff because they'd lose time and profit. Also, sheesham, aka Indian Rosewood, is rumored to sound better when it's denser, which is also not true Why aren't violins made of pure ebony? Because they need to vibrate to amplify the sound; same concept for tabla shells, which are also resonators. Denser does not equal better. I've played feather-light tablas that sound amazing and ring forever, and dense tablas that sound dead even with a new skin, and vice versa. That being said, generally, softer wood like mahogany gives a "sweeter" sound than sheesham, and roughly hollowed out drums give more sustain and less volume than their machined counterparts. There are other factors too for the shells, but I won't get into them. Just buy yourself a good skin and you'll be set.

With bayans, there's a slight difference in sound quality with metals, with softer metal alloys giving sweeter sounds and harder ones being louder. Not a big deal, especially since most makers use copper, nickel plated copper, or brass. I have a couple of copper bayans, personally. Aluminum is usually used in student sets although they look like the nickel plated copper, a look on the bottom will usually give the away (you won't see copper peeking through); a good skin will bring the sound up to par to most pro sets at a fraction of a cost of a new drum. With regards to weight, most drums after a certain point will be weighted down with lead. Since the makers get their shells from outside sources that deal with the raw materials, they don't really have much say in the thickness of the sheet metal used to make their bayan bulb shells. If you ask a maker to give you an 8 kg bayan (and he agrees to make the insane weightage) he'll stuff it with lead, thus dampening the resonance and making it hard to play. I ordered one of mine a bit heavy and this is the case with me too.

I'll say this frankly, to respond to these questions about equipment. Yes, drum quality matters significantly, but they ain't gonna do sh!t to make you sound better. Yes, you'll be louder and you might even sound cleaner, but these things won't fool any seasoned ears.

Instruments suck because they're difficult to play. Sitars cut your fingers like wire on cheese, violins need years of payment before you can make it sound reasonably good, and tabla needs hours of riyaz before you can play with speed, rhythm, and clarity. Pay your dues; Lord knows I'm still paying mine...

Best,
Robert

xavxav8
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri May 27, 2016 4:00 am

Re: Another Bayan Question

Post by xavxav8 » Sun Jun 05, 2016 3:46 am

Thank you so much for the response, one day I hope to pay my dues.

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