The Tablas consist of two hand drums: the Dayan (or Tabla) and the Bayan. The Dayan is the smaller of the drums, and is typically played with the right or dominant hand. This wooden drum is shaped like a cylinder and can be tuned by inserting cylindrical wooden blocks between the straps and shell. The Dayan is the higher-pitched drum of the Tabla set, complimenting the lower tones of the Bayan.
The Bayan drum is larger than the Dayan or Tabla and is constructed from metal, typically brass, nickel, copper, steel or aluminum. It is bowl-shaped and plays the low bass tones heard in Indian music. Both the Dayan and Bayan are played with the hands and fingertips instead of sticks or mallets. Experienced Tabla players are even able to bend or alter the pitch of the drums during play while still keeping the rhythm and music going.
Tabla drums feature a unique drum head, typically made from cow or goat skin, but with a large black circle on the surface. It is this black circle, made from organic materials such as soot, iron filings and gum, which create the melodic resonance within the Tabla rhythms.
The origins of the Tablas are disputed, but were first depicted in the 18th century. In accordance with Hindu faith and Vedic hymns, the Tablas are capable of producing sounds to stir the soul and promote self-realization possible through the connection between music, vibration and spirituality.