Episode 40: Toronto Tabla Ensemble: A Cacophony of Music & Emotion

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Today on the podcast we are featuring the Toronto Tabla Ensemble learn more about them and listen to their track “Prayer For The Mother” featuring Bif Naked.

Show Notes and Full Show Transcript

Hey everyone welcome to the Eat Sleep Breathe Music podcast. I am your host Jeanette Kimszal. For those of you just joining us, this is the podcast where I talk about different musicians and how their music affects me and then play their song track for you to listen to.

So you can check it out and form your own opinion as well. And I’d love to know what you think of the track if you’re so inclined to do so.

And if you are interested in sharing your thoughts on this track and artist I’ll have details at the end of the show where you can leave your comments.

So today I’m talking about the Toronto Tabla Ensemble. And from their name, you can guess where they’re from (laughing). They hail from Toronto, Canada, and this group has been around for quite a while. Last year, 2021 marked the 30-year anniversary of its founding.

And it’s so awesome that they are still going strong making music after 30 years. And listening to their stuff you can hear why they are still so relevant all these years later. 

There is something so ethereal and beautiful in the beats that the band creates this music that just lasts the test of time. And it’s no wonder they going strong today. 

But yeah so a little bit about the background the ensemble was founded by Ritesh Das and I apologize if I am saying the name incorrectly.

And he was born to parents who owned Nritya Bharati, a music and dance company. He was also brother to the late kathak dancer, Pandit Chitresh Das

It was the first of its kind in Kolkata after the Independence of India.

So growing up Das had a lot of exposure to music at a young age. He started studying music in 1972 and had vocal and sitar training with T.L. Rana and M.D Mullick. 

The tabla was the instrument he decided to settle with and was taught by Pandit Shankar Ghosh

And for anyone who is unfamiliar with what a tabla is it is two small drums of slightly different sizes and shapes. The smaller drum is called a dayan and the larger drum is called a baya.

They are made of hollowed-out wood, clay, or metal. The Dayan is used for creating treble and tonal sounds. Then the main function of baya is for producing bass. 

They are laced together with hoops, thongs, and wooden dowels on their sides. The dowels and hoops are used to tune the drums.

The tabla is also a percussion instrument used in Hindustani classical music. It can be played solo, accompanying other instruments and vocals, or it can be used as part of a larger ensemble. 

It has been used in pop and folk music performances in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka.

It is also used in dance performances like the Kathak. It is also a popular instrument used in religious music as well in Hinduism and Sikhism.

Aside from Indian music, the tabla may be used in various genres of music if they are looking for an additional percussion sound.

The playing technique is complex and involves extensive use of the fingers and palms in various configurations to create a wide variety of different sounds and rhythms, reflected in mnemonic syllables called bol.

So this is an instrument that takes a skill to play. 

And just going back to Das’ story. When he was 22 years old, he moved to Los Angeles, California to perform as a musician in the AMAN Folk Ensemble. 

Then in 1985, he moved to Toronto where he began teaching tabla on a full-time basis. 

In 1991, he formed the Toronto Tabla Ensemble, made up of his students at the time. 

Since that time he and the ensemble have garnered a Juno nomination for their album Firedance, and toured numerous times around Canada, Australia, and Europe. They have also appeared on CBC and other News networks and Much Music. 

In 2016 he was awarded the Roy Thomson Hall Award of Recognition through Toronto Arts Foundation. 

Das is currently, the director of the Toronto Tabla Ensemble School of Tabla, with teaching locations in Toronto and London, Ontario. 

His classes are designed to produce professional tabla players, as many of his students have become. 

He also launched the first Toronto Tabla Youth Ensemble featuring young artists between 8 and 15 years of age who he continues to train.

Toronto Tabla Ensemble has also been getting love from the blogosphere for their previous work as well as this new album with write-ups in SkopeMag, Indie Pulse, Vents Magazine, Tinnitist, Find Your Sounds, Canadian Beats, Womex, Indie Shark, Daily Pop News, and many more.

According to Spotify, they have had 12 albums since 1998.  For the Love of the Tabla was their eighth studio album out earlier this year. 

Puts the North Indian Tabla front and center in its music.

According to Das, the tabla is an instrument that is usually lost or buried under all the other instruments in a song. 

For this song and album, it was mixed in order to bring up the tabla so you can hear it prominently along with the other sounds.

And boy does it shine in this track. The wall of sound that is created is so beautiful and just lush with emotions.

According to Das, the album explores a theme of love and so they wanted to collaborate with various Canadian artists to create music that embodies the feeling of love and devotion.

The album is about love for the instrument, the music, other human beings, the earth, and nature. 

Das hopes to spread love all around with this album.

On this particular track, musicians include Das’ longtime collaborator Taiko master Kiyoshi Nagata, violinist and composer Miamon Miller, drummer Dale Anne Brendon, and sitarist George Koller just to name a few.

Vocals are provided by Indian-born Canadian icon Bif Naked. 

The song has quite a lasting impression on the listener. It seamlessly combines the tabla percussions with some good old rock and roll.

Paired with numerous instrumentation it has a lasting impression even with just a few opening notes. 

The song opens with repetitive tabla beats that hypnotize and entice your ears. Then comes this electronic sound that pulls it all together. 

And then you are hit with the earth-shattering lyrics and vocals from Bif Naked. 

The song is a magnificent cacophony that swells your heart. It takes you to a place of nature and enchantment. 

The song is just super powerful and has this grooving head-bobbing sound that takes you on a journey. It is nature and enchanting and also heart-wrenching. 

You will feel so many emotions throughout listening to this track.

So enough of me chatting now without further I will play you “Prayer for the Mother” by the Toronto Tabla Ensemble featuring Bif Naked.

We would love to know what you think about the Toronto Tabla Ensemble and their track “Prayer for the Mother (featuring Bif Naked).”

You can tell us in a comment on the podcast webpage. You can also leave an audio comment at the link in the episode summary.

If you’re looking for more information on Toronto Tabla Ensemble you can check out their official website www.TorontoTabla.com. That is T-O-R-O-N-T-O T-A-B-L-A.COM

For updates, you can follow them on Facebook at the handle TorontoTabla. That is T-O-R-O-N-T-O T-A-B-L-A.

You can also find them on Instagram at  the handle TorontoTablaEnsemble That is That is T-O-R-O-N-T-O T-A-B-L-A E-N-S-E-M-B-L-E

They are on Twitter at the handle TablaEnsemble. That is T-A-B-L-A-E-N-S-E-M-B-L-E

If you are looking for more new music be sure to subscribe to our podcast so you will get the latest updates on our artist features. You can also find more music features on our website at www.EatSleepBreatheMusic.com. That is E-a-t-S-l-e-e-p-B-r-e-a-t-h-e-M-u-s-i-c dot com.

Thanks for listening and see you in the next episode!

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