The dhol is one of the few percussion instruments in the world that draws
people to the dancefloor whenever it is played.
It is the king of Punjabi instruments; it is the soul of Bhangra; and without it,
Bhangra is incomplete.
Bhangra performers have huge respect for the dhol and it is for the dhol that
the dance is performed.
The dhol is a barrel-shaped instrument, made from a shell of hollowed-out
mango or sheesham wood, with the treble on the right and the bass on the
left. Historically,both sides of the drum were made from goatskin, but today,
plastic is sometimes used for one of the sides.
Two drumsticks are used to beat the drum. The tili is a thin cane stick; the dagga
is a crooked wooden stick: their contrasting shapes and sizes suit the different properties of each side of the drum. It is the rhythm they create that is the most significant feature of dhol playing.
Many Punjabi homes in the UK own a dhol and it is very popular with children;
yet due to a lack of experienced dhol players and teachers in England, most
students learn only a couple of basic tunes. Nevertheless, even the inexperienced
players are often good enough to bring the whole street out to dance!
Each beat of the dohl in Bhangra dance music introduces a different dance step.
The beat is then followed by a tora, a means of shifting from one beat to another without a pause.