This extraordinary book was first published in February 2000. It is a 254-page, coil-bound book that comes with a 57-minute-long CD. Aloke demonstrated selected compositions from the book on the CD. This book is for advanced students, although intermediate level students would be able to play many compositions.
Possibly, this book on tabla compositions is the first of its kind. Simple to extremely complex rhythmic patterns are documented beautifully. The musical sophistication, highly developed aesthetics, mathematical beauty, and the abstract poetry of sounds that make tabla a unique percussion instrument are obvious on every page. All of the compositions in Tabla: Poetic Drumming are entirely different from those in Tabla: Lessons and Practice.
The in-depth essay, “Poetic Drumming: A Way To Freedom,” will help players to prepare mentally through strengthening their spirit. A total of 101 different notes and phrases is listed alphabetically with clear descriptions of their production techniques in the “Bol Production” chapter. Some phrases are played using different techniques to achieve higher speed, the secret of which is revealed in this chapter.
This book covers nine time cycles (tala): tintala (16 beats), jhaptala (10 beats), rupak (7 beats), ektala (12 beats), nasrook (9 beats), char tala ki sawari (11 beats), jaitala (13 beats), pancham sawari (15 beats), and uptala jhampak (8 1/2 beats). All talas come with expanded peshkars, kaidas, and relas and with many fixed compositions from all six schools of tabla playing , as well as from some non-hereditary maestros.
There is a total of 28 kaidas in this book. Twenty-three kaidas are fully expanded, but only the main theme is given for 5 kaidas so that players can learn to elaborate. There are 17 relas and 113 fixed compositions, out of which 52 are tukras, 38 gats, and 23 chakradars.