Giant Steps

February 24, 2008

Rhythm Exercises (Tabla)

Filed under: Rhythm — B Ray @ 4:58 pm

Here are some exercises that a friend had gotten from a tabla player in New York he is receiving lessons from. Instead of going over complicated polyrythms – he went over what was a seemingly simple exercise.

Example 1 (which I entitled “Tabla Rhythm Accent Exercise 1”) is an exercise in accenting notes. The note choices used are insignificant, just 4 notes that repeat in cycles (below are the first 4 notes of the C Major scale).

It may help to exaggerate the accent so that it is obvious to the ears which notes are accenting, while playing the other notes softer than normal.

The notes to be accented are denoted in the staff music by the ^ sign. Strict alternate picking is recommended.

I’ve found that my dynamics have greatly improved – due to the fact I am more in tune to dynamics of each note (varying pick attack) with respect to its beat. I also have a better feel for the rhythmic spacing betweeen the downbeats. Also I feel I focus more intently on each note that I play.

The first pattern involves accenting on each of the actual beats (repeated 4 beats).

Measure 2 – accenting the 2nd note of each 4 note grouping (repeated 4 beats),

Measure 3 – accenting the 3rd note of each grouping (repeated 4 beats)

Measure 4 accenting the 4th beat of each grouping.

Measures 5 – 8: only 3 beats are repeated.

Measures 9 – 12: only 2 beats are repeated.

Measure 13-16: Beat 1 Grouping – 1st note is accented; Beat 2 Grouping – 2nd note is accented; Beat 3 Grouping – 3rd note is accented; Beat 4 Grouping – 4th note is accented…Following the accent note of beat 4 (the 16th note of the measure) the first note of the next measure is accented.

It’s a mind exercise as well – as you’re playing you have to be able to remember and feel which measure you are playing so you know how many times to repeat the lick with the given accent.

Exercise 1:

Note Accents


Exercise 2 uses the same pattern as Exercise 1 – the difference is the notes are omitted instead of accented. It’s a great method to turn tired licks into fresh interesting sounded licks – also creates a spacing and interesting rhythmic variations.



Blog at