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iTablaPro review – A great tabla and tanpura music app

I've always had an affinity for Indian music. I can't pinpoint where it comes from, as I was raised in the 1970's on Led Zeppelin, KISS, and The Eagles (thanks Dad!). Maybe the sitar in "Within You Without You" subconsciously set its hooks in me after constant spins of Sgt. Peppers on the turntable. But, growing up in suburban Minneapolis, I certainly wasn't surrounded by the sounds of tablas or tanpuras.

As a somewhat offbeat musician, I don't tend to stick to exactly one genre. But in the pre-iPad days, there was simply no chance of me owning any Indian instruments, due primarily to the price. Realistically, I know these instruments would quickly find a home next to my banjo and accordion in the "Corner of Forgotten Instruments" in my music room as well.

But, with iTablaPro from developer Prasad Upasani, I am able to own some of the best sounding tablas and tanpuras around, and at an incredibly reasonable price.

iTablaPro is not just a tabla app, but includes many other great sounding instruments. In addition to the tabla, there are two tanpuras , a Sur-Peti (Shruti-Box), a Swar Mandal (Indian Harp), and a Manjira (hand cymbals). These are sampled from the actual instruments, and really sound authentic.

In addition to the instruments mentioned, there are 43 taals included to choose from. A taal is the rhythmic pattern of the tablas. Each taal will also have its own style, which can vary from "basic" to "shuffle" to specific variations. The taals provided vary in length of the patterns from 5 to 16, and range in sounds accordingly. The number of options and variations here are staggering.

Another fantastic feature is that there are over 100 presets included in iTablaPro. You have the ability to save your own presets, and even email a preset.

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There is a tremendous amount of control over the instrumentation and mix here. The tuning ranges from A2 to E4, with the ability to microtune as well. The BPM can be adjusted from 25 BPM to 299 BPM, with buttons that not only allow you to adjust in increments of 1 BPM, but also double or half the current BPM, or in increments of 5 BPM in either direction. Of course, there is a 'tap tempo' option as well.

If your not familiar with Indian instrumentation, the tanpura is the drone instrument, sometimes referred to as a "tambura". With the tanpuras, you can not only change the tunings of each, but in the Settings menu you can choose to vary the tempos slightly for a more "human" feel, change the pluck mode from a 5-beat to a 6-beat, and select to tune one tanpura an octave higher, among other options.

The Swar Mandal has 15 strings that can all be custom tuned. You can also set it to play at specific timed intervals, or play manually live. The harp sounds beautiful. It provides a nice lead instrument sound over the drone of the tanpura, without taking over.

There is also a nice mixer here. You can control the volume, pan, and EQ of each instrument individually.

The app is Universal, and supports both Portrait and Landscape modes. And thankfully, iTablaPro is also Audiobus compatible, so getting these lush sounds into your favorite DAW is pain-free.

My association with Indian music does not go much deeper than a six-week business trip to Hyderabad and a few Ravi Shankar CD's, so I'm no expert. But having played with iTablaPro for quite some time, I was able to easily create some authentic sounds. The app makes it very simple, and with the many different taals and variants, you won't find yourself stuck in a rut. Below are just a few presets recorded into Cubasis, with some adjustments made to the taal on-the-fly.

The price tag for iTablaPro does run towards the top end of the iOS music app catalog, and that may be a point of hesitation for some. The developer is very dedicated to this app, and continues to maintain and update the app consistently. After doing a quick search of the App Store, the choices for a quality tabla app alone are extremely limited. Add in the incredible depth of iTablaPro, Audiobus compatibility, and additional instrumentation in the way of tanpuras etc., and iTablaPro is the clear choice for anyone looking for a quality Indian music app.

If you're thinking about buying iTablaPro, please consider clicking through our App Store link below. Thanks!

iTablaPro - Tabla Tanpura Player (AppStore Link) iTablaPro - Tabla Tanpura Player
Developer: Prasad Upasani
Rated: 4+5
Price: $34.99 Download

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