“Bhangra is to music what spices are to food: It creates flavor.”
This quick write-up will help musicians globally in incorporating the great “Bhangra” sound to their music. This write up is based on what I have learnt after watching videos by youtube user “Howtoplaydhol” whose website and videos are a good source to learn dhol, and will be referenced here.
ð Basic Dhol sounds:
The two sticks used to produce sound with a Dhol, namely Dagga (Bass stick) and Tilla (Treble stick) produce their own distinct sounds, as well as a couple of combination sounds. Here’s the list:
a) Dagga Sounds: (All eighth notes)
1. Ge (Main bass sound)
2. Gir (Muted bass sound) [The name Gir may not be technically correct, but if you watch the videos on the same you will know]
3. Click Sound (Produced by hitting the drum with the bass stick, either at the edge of the bass end, or anywhere along the length of the drum, i.e. not on the skin)
b) Tilla Sounds: (All eighth notes)
1. Na (Treble sound produced by hitting the outer portion of the treble skin) Na-Na is the sixteenth note combination.
2. Ghir-Ghira or Ghira (Treble sound produced by hitting the middle portion of the treble skin, while you use your fingers to press the middle part of the stick to the skin, thus giving a double sound)
c) Combination sounds: (All eighth notes)
1. Dha (When you make Ge and Na sounds together, i.e. at the same time)
2. Kin (When you make Ghir and Na sounds together, i.e. at the same time)
ð Basic Dhol rhythm:
The basic dhol rhythm that you will hear in Bhangra songs, much like the 4/4 beat of house music, is called “Chaal”. The basic “Chaal” notes pattern is:
Dha Na Na Na Na Dha Dha Dha Na (Eighth notes)
This pattern is repeated over and over, and variations can be used.
ð Other Dhol rhythms:
In addition to Chaal, there are some other rhythm patters that can be used:
2. Gidha or Lehriya
4. Mummy-Daddy (According to “Howtoplaydhol” this should be the first one to be mastered as it helps develop hand co-ordination)
7. Laggi (Continuous playing of a pattern of strokes)
The patterns and variations for these can be had from “Howtoplaydhol” videos, and via his website mailing list. I am not promoting him, but it’s my gratitude to the efforts of this guy for making Dhol so simple.
ð Dhol fills:
Three kinds of Dhol fills are used to introduce Dhol rhythm, to break up the monotony of the Dhol rhythm, and to close the rhythm. Which one you choose will depend upon the song you are playing to, that is, your expertise with the rhythms. The fills are of three types:
1. Breaks and Thoras (e.g. Na Rest Dha Na Dha Na Dha Rest)
2. Rolls (e.g. Ge Na Ge Na Ge Na Na)
3. Tirkit (which is, in sixteenth notes, Na Na Ge Na, but is played with Take, which is, again in sixteenth notes, Na Ge. An example of the pattern would be Dha Dha Tirkit Dha Take Tirkit)
Once again, variations can be created.
ð How to create variations:
Generally variations are created by replacing Dha at the beginning of a loop with a Na or Kin when the loop is repeated, or replacing Na with Dha towards the end of the loop, in alternate fashion, if it connects well with another Dha at the beginning of the repeat, or with another Dha in the original loop. However, if it sounds musically good, any sound can replace any other sound anywhere, as long as the pattern is going to be repeated as a rhythm, or is a Dhol fill.
This is a very basic article which I have written to simplify “Dhol”. The best suggestion I can give is to go and watch “Howtoplaydhol” videos, and possibly subscribe to his website newsletter.
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