Darabuka - the History of Percussion Instrument – Essay Example

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The paper “ Darabuka – the History of Percussion Instrument ”   is an impressive example of an essay on music.   Darabuka, also known as goblet drum is a percussion instrument from the Middle East. The instrument has a goblet shape. It is a single-headed ancient drum, which was originally played in Armenia, Turkey, and Egypt. It is used in music from Middle Eastern countries. The thin drumhead is responsive and with a resonance that helps it produce a distinctively crisp sound (Saddie 2000). The origin of the term Darabuka can be traced to the Arabic world “ Darba” which means to strike.

This instrument was originally used in Sumeria and Babylon thousands of years ago. However, there are debates that the instrument origin is in Europe and was brought to the Arabic world by nomadic Celtic tribes (Shem, 1987). It is considered one of the most important in the Middle East. The instrument has its roots in oriental music, which had distinctive rhythm. However, the instrument made its way into western music in later years. Authentic Darabukas are made of wood with goatskin that is stretched at the top using a piece of rope, nails, or leather thongs.

Modern versions of the Darabukas are also made of copper or aluminium with synthetic fibres on the drumming surface. Traditional Darabukas were made of clay wood or metal. However, modern Darabukas are made of materials such as fibreglass and other synthetic materials. The structure of the Darabuka can be different depending on the origins and geographical locations (Saddie, 2000). Western pop and hip-hop music have influenced the culture of the music played in the Middle East, leading to changes in the shape and structure of the Darabuka to some extent.

Nowadays, it has a modern look and shiny. The single-headed shape of the drum distinguishes it from other percussion instruments of its family. The instrument has a long history of being used in belly dancing songs, in the Middle East, giving it another dame; the belly dance drum. The first modern classical composition to use the Darabuka was the opera Les Troyes that was composed by Frenchman Hector Berlioz (Sachs, 2006). This composition uses the Darabuka in Act 4, which is called the Dance of the Nubian Slaves.

The first composition using the Darabuka in the orchestra was the Fantasia Tahmeel by Halim el Dabh in 1958. The Darabuka is played under the player's armour when resting on the leg of the player. There are lighter touches and different strokes than on the hand drums. The Egyptian style has some rounded edges around its head. On the other hand, the Turkish style exposes that hedge on its head. The exposed edge helps the player to have closer access to the head of the drum so that finger-snapping techniques can be applied.

The hard edge on the Turkish style discourages rapid rolls, which are possible with the Egyptian style (Saddie, 2000). The Darabuka may be played when held under one arm, especially the non-dominant arm, or by placing it on the sideways on the player's lap, with the head placed towards his or her knee when seated. Some drums also have strap mounts and can be slung over the shoulder of the player, to facilitate the better playing of the instrument when dancing or standing (Remnant, 1999).

The drum produces a low sustain and resonant sound when it is played lightly using the palm or the fingertips. Some players will move their fists inside and outside the bell to alter the tone. Several varieties of rhythm from this instrument form the basis of dance styles, folklore, and modern Middle East music. The drum produces three main sounds. The first sound is called the "Doum" this is a deep bass sound that is produced when the instrument is struck near its centre with the length of the palm and the fingers, then the player taking off the hand to create an open sound.

The second sound produced by this instrument is called the "tek. " It is a higher-pitched sound that is produced when the player strikes near the edge of the head of the drum with the tips of their finger. When a "tek" is produced by striking with a second hand, it is referred to as a "ka. " The third sound produced by this instrument is known as the "pa. " This sound is produced when the hand of the player is rested rapidly on the head of the drum to avoid the production of open sound.

Complex techniques are also used with the instruments. These include the pops, snaps, rolls, and slaps. These are used for the purposes of ornamenting the basic rhythm. Clapping hands and striking the sides of the drum can also produce drumhead sounds. In countries such as turkey, Egypt and even Bulgaria, another technique that is used is tabooing with the fingers of one hand and hitting with a thick stick in the other.        


List of References

Blade, J 1970, Percussion Instruments and their History, OUP, NY

Cook, G 2006, Teaching Percussion, Thomson Schumer, London

Rault, L 2000, Musical Instruments: A Worldwide Survey of Traditional Music-making, Thames & Hudson Ltd, London

Remnant, M 1999, Musical Instruments: An Illustrated History from Antiquity to the Present, Rowman & Littlefield, Leeds

Sachs, C 2006, The History of Musical Instruments, Dover Publications, Manchester

Shem, S 1987, “Acoustics of Ancient Chinese Bells," Scientific American, vol. 256, no. 2, pp. 94

Schick, S 2006, The Percussionist's Art - Same Bed, Different Dreams, University of Rochester Press, Rochester

Sadie, S 2000, "Darabukka" The New Grove Journal of Music and Musicians, vol. 5, no. 2, p. 239.

Tovey, D1992, Essays in Musical Analysis 1, Oxford University Press, London

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