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Re: Looping Drummers who play tabla

I also have a "tabla machine"
more info please.....michael
Sure.  Tabla machines have been discussed on-list before, and the archives contain some pointers for sites to listen to some of these devices, as well as places to purchase them.  
Basically, the "tabla machine" is an electronic device preprogrammed to play the "theka" or basic pattern of beats in a "taal" (rhythmic cycle) of Indian music.   I've worked with two different machines, the Taal Mala and the Riyaz Master Pro.  Each of these has a selection of preset taals, most of which are in common use in Indian music, some more obscure or lesser-heard taals are represented as well.  There are controls for volume, pitch (since the smaller drum of the tabla pair is tuned to the tonic of the vocalist or instrumentalist), and tempo.  There are also controls for "speed" (as opposed to tempo) since the theka usually changes when playing at different speeds.  This control varies the theka for "vilambit" (slow), "madhya" (medium) and "drut" (fast) speeds.  Within each of these speeds you can also accelerate/decelerate the tempo.  
From my experience with the two machines I've used, I prefer the Riyaz Master Pro.  However, to be fair, the version of Taal Mala I had was from about 10 years ago -- in fact, it was the first "electronic tabla."  It used very plinky/thuddy synthetic tones that tried to replicate the high and low drum sounds of the tabla, and had a very tinny speaker that only seemed to function properly at distoring volumes.  But I've heard an updated version of the Taal Mala which uses sampled tabla and sounds very good.  The Riyaz Master Pro also uses sampled tabla sounds and has a good speaker.
One major caveat, though - none of these machines are going to sound anything like a live tabla player.  They were designed as a practice tool for vocalists and instrumentalists.  In India you generally pay a tabla accompanist a fee to come over and practice with you, particularly if the tabla player is senior to you in terms of age or experience.  While practicing, perhaps 95% of the time the tabla player will play a steady "theka" while the vocalist or instrumentalist practices rhythmic improvisations within the framework of a composition.  So the tabla machine serves this same purpose - to give that "theka" to practice over.  
My advice if you're interested in a tabla machine (or any other Indian instrument) is to see if someone you know is going to India, then ask them to bring one back for you since the markup in the West tends to be shockingly extreme.