Learn to Play > Lesson 6: The Prabhupada Beat

The Prabhupada Beat Translated

Here's the translation of the Prabhupada Beat given in this lesson.

Now, bear in mind, this particular beat is a complex one. It's classified as a slow beat as described in Lesson 3 (Different strokes for different folks), and therefore we are giving it to you now, while we are discussing slow beats. But it's significantly more complex than the mantras you have learned so far.

However, fortunately, complex doesn't mean difficult to play. We can break this mantra down into three parts, and practice each part independently.

Although this mrdanga mantra was taught to Srila Prabhupada by his father (and therefore the name "The Prabhupada beat"), it is a traditional Bengali mrdanga beat. I need to warn you that there are as many variations of this beat as there are waves in the ocean, or birds in the sky, or grains of sand on the beach, or... well you get the idea. There's a lot of variations.

On this course we'll teach you the beat in a few ways, and as you familiarize yourself with mrdanga playing, you can learn other variations of the same beat.

So first, here's what the beat looks like, translated from into the system we have been using on this course.

ti ta tiri tiri ti ta ki tiri ki ti geDha duk dha duk dha Ge - 

The beat can be divided up into three parts as follows:

  1. ti ta tiri tiri ti ta

  2. ki tiri ki ti geDha

  3. duk dha duk dha Ge - 

Keep your hand close to the head when playing tiri. Don't move your hand far away from the head.

Each can be practiced independently, and then they can be combined to make the entire beat. And guess what? You're already familiar with the last part, because you just practiced it on the previous page! That means you're 1/3 there already before we even start. Pretty cool, huh?

The first part is also not too complicated to figure out, but it does require a little flexibility. In order to play it you've got to learn the proper way to play the small end of the drum. That is - keep your hand close to the head and use wrist action and verticle up and down motion, rather than moving your hand out and in on the head. Take a look at the animation on the right to refamiliarize yourself with how to do a tiri. Pay close attention that my hand is hugging the dayan. It never moves very far away from it. The whole trick is to get the sound from a verticle up and down flick of the wrist, not by moving the hand away from the head.

So, if you're ready, let's break it down and then put it all together. Before you know it, you'll be an expert at playing the "Prabhupada Beat!" And then you'll be REALLY cool.

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