Zakir Hussain’s Talks About Flow and Taal

Only the people living under a rock will be unaware of who Zakir Hussain is. Often regarded as India’s best Tabla player Zakir Hussain is also a film actor and composer. He’s a two-time Grammy Winner and a Pioneer of World Music. He recently got invited to a Google Talk which was hosted by VP Vinod Marur. Also known to many as Ustadji, he shared his views on technology, collaboration with other artists, grooming the next generation of artists and bringing tabla to the global stage.

Around 59 minutes later after Ustadji is almost done sharing his experiences and stories the conversation took an exciting turn and he starts to explain what a ‘Padhant’ is. I am aware of ‘Padhant’ due to some tabla experience but for those of you who do not know about it, Padhant is a system of ‘spoken words’ created for each sound or bol that the tabla makes. These different ‘words’ are then used to form patterns which when heard, help the player to play it on the drums. While in training, a student is typically taught the padhant of a composition before actually playing it on the drums. This helps the student to be able to have the pattern in their mind before having to play it.

Before you read on, it will be better if you see the video:

Coming back to Ustadji’s conversation, I could not help but realise that during his demonstration what Ustadji was doing was kind of familiar. Every hip-hop listener or fan over time subconsciously gets used to the specific BPM they listen to. I hope that I am speaking for a majority when I say that you can almost imagine words over those bols during his demonstration. This is the very basic rudiment of hip-hop which we call flow. Zakir Hussain himself mentions that it is very similar to rap. He effortlessly shows that you can make it more bouncy by just adding a groove to it. The crowd also enthusiastically joins in and claps along in a way acting like a metronome.

Hip Hop is something you can feel in everything and this is just a very classic example of the same.