A champion of solo gigs

A champion of solo gigs

classical beats

A champion of solo gigs

The beats, rhythms and creative bol techniques produced  by Pandit Ravindra Yavagal on his tabla will make one instantly connect to the divinity. His performances are enthralling and features classical mellifluousness. He is a tablachi par excellence with traditional compositional knowledge.

A child prodigy, Ravindra Yavagal gave his first solo performance at the age of 10. Born in 1959 to Ramachandra Yavagal and Parvathi Bai, he was initiated into music by his father when he was four years old. He came under the tutelage of Pandit Sheshagiri Hanagal and has had guidance briefly from Pandit Lalji Gokhale.

Yavagal has accompanied several top-ranking vocalists and instrumentalists in the world of Indian classical music such as Mallikarjun Mansur, Gangubai Hanagal, Bhimsen Joshi, Jasraj, C R Vyas, Rajan & Sajan Mishra, Ajoy Chakraborthy, Salamat Ali Khan of Pakistan, Begum Parveen Sultana et al.

Yavagal, with an open-minded creativeness in experimental and fusion music, has also shared the concert platform with great maestros of south Indian music.

Balamuralikrishna and T N Krishnan are among them. His concert tours have taken him to countries like USA, France, Egypt and Hong Kong. He has received honours and felicitations from several organisations. The Rajyotsava Award (1995) and the Aryabhata International Award (2011) are just two of them.


With a master’s degree in music, he is a ‘top-ranking’ artiste of All India Radio — he has been on the staff of All India Radio,  Bengaluru, for the last three decades.

Yavagal started Sri Rama Kala Vedike Trust in memory of his father, in 2006, which awards scholarships to students of music, conducts music workshops by senior artistes, and honours distinguished artistes every year with the Kalashringa Award. It also provides medical assistance to senior artistes and conducts art exhibitions.

Yavgal has reached the zenith as a soloist and as an accompanist. Speaking on the importance of the guru-shishya relationship’, he says, “My guruji, though very kind-hearted, was strict in teaching. I had to wait for months together to get new lessons. Unless satisfied with my performance, he would not teach further, which gave me a strong foundation. That close association helped me, apart from learning formal lessons of tabla, to observe and understand his thought process. But now, the guru-shishya tradition is diminishing. Students, within a short span of time, feel that they have learnt music sufficiently to become musicians, and stop going to gurus, which is unfortunate. One must realise that the guru-shishya relationship is invaluable.”

When asked about what sets him apart from other stalwarts, he says, “First of all, I don’t think I am a stalwart. Learning is a life-long process, hence I am still a student. In my musical journey, I always see many possibilities. So I work hard with reverence and dedication.”

He adds, “I don’t prepare for any particular concert. I go on stage with a composed and clear mind and try to understand the thoughts of the co-artistes with the fine understanding the language of music gives, and in that process I bring out my own style and improvise on rhythm frameworks.”

Going solo

Should tabla solo concerts be encouraged as a separate category to make audiences understand the power of tabla-playing? “There is a general feeling that tabla and harmonium are only meant for accompaniment. This is sad. Students, while learning these instruments, are given taaleem (lessons) for solo performances. But later on they are looked upon as accompanists. Hence, riyaz done till then goes a waste, which diminishes creativity and interest. Organisers and music lovers should encourage solo tabla performances as much as they encourage concerts.”

The sweep of modernity includes novel ways to learn the tabla. One of it is ‘Learn to Play Tabla DVDs’. Yavgal still believes that “music should be taught on one-on-one basis. A shishya should surrender to his guru and learn with dedication. Practising in the presence of the guru enriches the student’s knowledge. Training through books is not at all possible. Learning through DVDs is limited, and it’s still an experimental process. Learning tabla online can help students overcome problems of physical distances, however.”

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