The tabla is descended from another traditional Indian percussion instrument, the pakhawaj. At some point during the 14th century, a gifted musician called Amir Khusrow split the pakhawaj into two parts. The right, smaller drum was called the tabla, while the left, larger drum was named the dugga. Early on, the tabla was seen to be a fitting accompaniment to the khayal style of vocal composition, since it had a subtler and softer tone than other drums of the time. The tabla continued to be refined under the Mughal period and came to be considered an instrument in its own right.
The tabla is essential in Kathak dance. From daily practices to performances, the tabla provides an integral part of the artist-musician relationship, and both dancer and musician work towards having a close rapport with one another.