Quite an event for the true lovers of drum rhythms! The world famous artist from Turkey and a true master of percussion Ustad Misirli Ahmet gave his two-day master class in the EthnoBeat school! Two unforgettable days! We are practising hard everything he taught us and looking forward to the next lesson.
The first darbuka appeared in the 14th century. In the East it is also called an Egyptian tablah - one-sided drum of the medium size with strong and deep sound. In the Middle Ages darbukas were made of ceramics, with goat or, less often, thick camel skin stretched on it. The peculiar sound could be found on the membrane of a thin fish skin. Later darbukas were cut out from boiled tree trunks. As for the framework of modern darbukas it is made of light metals such as aluminum or copper, and the membrane is made of special plastic.
Since ancient times, darbukas with leather membrane have been tuned by being heated by the fire. The heat makes the membrane stretch, the sound changes, after that the darbuka can become a solo instrument whose pitch is traditionally higher than of other drums. Darbukas with plastic membranes do not need tuning before every performance. It is only done once. To get the right sound the membrane is tightened with special tuning keys.
A drum in the East is not simply an instrument; it is the keeper of historical traditions and a constant companion of a man.
There are Asian and African rhythms that haven't been changing for centuries, and they can still be heard at weddings, children's birthday celebrations, religious activities; they raise the moral of soldiers, mark the change of calendar and other traditional events.
The darbuka is usually used as a solo instrument in the background of the daf, the tambourine, and the cimbalom which play basic rhythms. Oriental belly dance is impossible without the participation of the darbuka. A drum solo improvisation, when the body must align with each tablah sound and riff, is considered pure tour de force for a dancer.
The darbuka is often called "doumbek", althouth they both are quite different types of drums. However, the name stuck, as well as the term "tablah". That's where some confusion takes place. Doumbeks are usually a bit bigger and heavier than darbukas, and their sound is therefore lower. As for the tablah, if we decide to use this term, it is more correct to say "tabl", which is the common word for all the drums in Arab countries. The very "tabla" is an Indian drum, two drums, to put it more precisely, and the tablah playing technique is fundamentally different from the one of tabl, that is darbuka or doumbek playing technique.
A lot can be told and written about the elegance of the darbuka, about its unique voice, but that's not it. You should hold the darbuka, listen to its sounds, entrust yourself and your soul to it...