Tabla is the most prolific drum in Southeast Asia owing to its versatility as a solo and accompanying instrument in all forms of music and dance. The smaller wooden drum is called tabla and the larger bass drum of copper or clay, a bayan. The stretched skin and layered black gaab give the drums their unique tonal variation, providing performers with a large range of timbres and tones.
Everything that is played on the drum is represented by a spoken syllable known as bol. The tabla has a special place in North Indian (Hindustani) classical music, which is mostly improvised. However, there is a large number of fixed compositions that have been passed from teacher to student for centuries.
Tabla classes at Nritya Bharati are taught in the traditional style allowing students to develop an understanding of tabla stroke technique, recitation, and rhythmic theory. Through Ritesh Das’ lineage, own studies, and vision, this North Indian rhythmic system is passed on to all students, many of whom have become professional musicians themselves.
Ritesh Das was born in Kolkata, India to parents Nrityacharya Prohlad Das and Smt. Nilima Das. He is the brother of the late kathak dancer, Pandit Chitresh Das. His parents had a music and dance academy, Nritya Bharati, the first of its kind in Kolkata after the Independence of India. Growing up in this environment allowed him immediate exposure to music and tabla at a young age. His musical studies began in 1972, studying vocals with T.L. Rana, sitar with M.D. Mullick, and finally settling on tabla with Pandit Shankar Ghosh.
When Das was 22-years-old, he moved to Los Angeles, CA to perform as a musician in the AMAN Folk Ensemble. While in California, he continued his tabla studies under Ustad Zakir Hussain, performing in his tabla ensemble. Eventually Das began studying tabla with his guru, Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, with whom he continues to study presently.
In 1985, Das moved to Toronto where he began teaching tabla on a full-time basis. In 1991, he formed the The Toronto Tabla Ensemble, made up of his students at the time. Along with the ensemble, he has toured Canada many times as well as touring Australia and Europe. Das along with TTE have performed at numerous jazz and folk festivals, and have also appeared on CBC and other News Network and Much Music. His album, Firedance, received a nomination for the Juno Award for Best Global Album. Along with the Ensemble, Das has released six CDs and is currently composing music for the seventh. He has composed pieces for documentaries, commercials and dance choreography.
Das is the director of the Toronto Tabla Ensemble School of Tabla, with 3 teaching locations in the Greater Toronto Area. His classes are designed to produce professional tabla players, as many of his students have become. Das recently launched the first Toronto Tabla Youth Ensemble featuring young artists between 8 and 15 years of age who he continues to train.
For more information go to our class schedule.