Middle Eastern Drums

Arabic Drums

  • Derbake: This is the most important percussion instrument. While other instruments make the base rhythm, the player of the derbake improvises with great freedom. This instrument might be made out of wood and leather patches that have to be heated in order to stretch them before the execution; they may also be made of other modern material such as fiberglass and plastic patches (these ones are used only by professionals).
  • Daola: is similar to the derbake but two times bigger.
  • Daf: Is like a tambourine with rattles, there are similar percussions like the Masjar and the Ra these two are bigger and the Ra has no rattles.
  • Snush: These are two bronze dishes per hand, which are placed with leather strips on the thumb and middle fingers. They clash doubling the pulse and rhythm or in some cases marking the initial accents.

Arabic Beats

The most important beats in the Arabic music are the “dum” in the G note and “tak” in the D note. These are rhythmical “keys” without sound heights. They’re pretty similar to other eastern cultures; the name of these beats comes from the sound they produce: Balladi Maksaum, Saudi (also common in Egypt and Lebannon), Malfuf or Laff, Saidi (rural), Saffa (for weddings and processions), Falahi, Ayub or Zaar, Samai, Masmoudi.

Egyptian Drums

  • Cymbals: they’re made of metal. These instruments were the dancers’ predilection since they could accompany any type of dance.
  • Cup drums: There are several types of cup drums, yemes and darbukas. Cup drums are percussion instruments where one face is larger than the other and the frame resembles the shape of a cup or chalice.
  • Sistros: percussion instrument with a U-shaped wooden frame, a handle and crossed bars that held metal plates, which varied over time.

Egyptian Beats

As the Arabians precussions, Egyptians also have de “dum” (Low G) and “tak” (High D). The Zak is a blow dry made with the palm of the hand, it can be soft or strong. “Es” represents silence. Wahda Sogayara is a four times rhythm that most classic Egyptian songs use, is slow and soft, it can be combined with rhythms such as Maksoum, Masmoudi Sogayar and the Malfouf. In the dances represents love and accompanies the singers in the verses. Wahda Kibira is a slow tempo rhythm with eight beats.

Turkish Drums

  • Davul: is the most ancient percussion instrument, it may come in several sizes. It’s frequently used for weddings, dances and other ceremonies. The rounded frame is made of wood and a ring to attach the leather. It has a string to hang it in the shoulder. In one side of the drum the skin is thick and the other side is thinner, the thicker side is played with a stick made of dark solid wood and the thin side is played with a larger, lighter wood stick.
  • Nagara (Koltuk Davulu): is a very popular drum. Is placed under the arm and hit with the hands. It’s compared often to regular drums; the diameter is minor to regular drums.
  • Tef: Is a regular tambourine with rattles.
  • Kasik: these are basically spoons made of wood that are used as percussions instruments.
  • Darbuka: Similar drum to the Arabians’ Derbake.

Turkish Beats

  • Aksak: this would translate as ‘gammy’ in Turkish. Is a rhythmic pattern proper from the music of the Balkans, Turkish, Iran and Afghanistan. It’s characterized by the amalgam of binary and ternary subdivision of compasses, such as 3/4 ~ 3/8 or 2/8 ~ 6/8. Contemporary composers like Bartok and Stravinsky introduced this pattern into their compositions in the 20th century; Bartok called it “Bulgarian rhythm”.
  • Usul: It can be translated as ‘meter’, but these words are not exactly the same thing, both repeat the rhythmical pattern with inner structures in which each one has a certain complexity. In the Ottoman classical music is an underlying rhythmic cycle that complements the melodic rhythm and sometimes contributes to shaping the overall structure of a musical piece. The Usul might be as short as two pulses or as long as 128 pulses. 

The standard pattern for usul is represented by words built from the combinations of syllables like: dum, du-um, tek, tekkyaa, teke, te-ek.

Greek Drums

  • Krotalos: it is known that these begin to be used by the Greeks from contacts with Egypt. These are a type of castanets of which vestiges were found both in Greece and in Egypt. They were mainly used in the dances that evoked Dionysus. The dancers placed them on the wrists or ankles to accompany the dances.
  • Cymbal: It consists of two metallic “cymbals” that are made to collide, which were also used in dances and theatrical acts. This instrument was used in Dionysus cults.
  • Kroupala: these are known among Latins as scabella, wooden sandals whose sole was split and which produced a loud slab when hitting the ground with the shoe. Its purpose was to clearly mark the rhythm of the dances.
  • Týmpanon: a frame drum that resembles what we know as a tambourine. From this instrument one intuits that the origin can be mesopotamic. It consists of a solid frame on which two leather skins are tied, one very close to the other, with the intention of generating more resonance than a single skin. It was an instrument used in the cults of Dionysus and Cibeles and that was particularly reserved exclusively for women, so it was an instrument that was left out of the military environment (many instruments in ancient Greece were widely related to war and militia).

Greek Beats

This point, more than more than musically, must be approached from the study of rhythm considering a series of analytical categories, such as the accent, the metric structure, the tempo and the rhythmic structure itself, in interdependence relationships, and disregarding the related problems to musical notation and the problems derived from its historical development, and from the patterns established by the Greek prosody (strong-weak).

The Prosody

The Greek versification is not based on the accent, but on the quantity of the syllables, which can be long (-) and short (u) syllables. Therefore, it is necessary to study the rules that make it possible to distinguish the number of syllables.

Prosody studies the principles by which a metric system regulates the syllabic quantity (it is convenient not to confuse vowel quantity with syllabic quantity). The short vowel cannot have a circumflex accent, while the long one can withstand it. Already the ancients spoke of short syllables and long syllables, which could be φύσει / θέσει (by nature / by convection).

A syllable is long when the vowel that composes it is long. In Greek they are long vowels by nature (φύσει) η, ω, α, ι, υ and the diphthongs αι, αυ, ει, ευ, ηυ, οι, ου, υι. However, they can be abbreviated to a word that begins with a vowel.

A syllable is long when, having a short vowel, two or more consonants, or a double consonant (ζ, ξ, ψ) follow. Then it is said that it is long by convention (better than by position) (θέσει). In the Epic, in general, the groups called liquid cum muta, that is, occlusive (sound, deaf, aspirated), followed by λ, μ, ν, ρ, always act as two consonants, thereby always lengthening the preceding vowel.A syllable is short when it has a short vowel (ε, ο, ι, υ, α) and is not followed by more than one consonant

Kalamatianos 7/8

Metric Concepts

– The rhythm (ἀριθμός): Assumes the idea of ​​repetition, order, iteration. It is based on the opposition of short and long syllables (to which the “musicalists” add the existence of silences); and we speak of ascending rhythm and descending rhythm depending on whether the syllable that starts the rhythm is short or long.

– The foot (πούς): The foot means the union of an “arsis” and a “thesis” (marked and unmarked time). They are classified according to their γένος:

– ἴσον: 1: 1 ratio, such as the pirriquio (u u); 2: 2, such as sponge (- -), dactyl (. U u), etc.

– διπλάσιον: 1: 2, 2: 1, 2: 4 ratio, such as yambo, troque, etc.

– ἡμιόλιον: Ratio 3: 2, 2: 3, such as drumming (u – -), etc.

– ἐπίτριτον: Ratio 3: 4 or 4: 3, as the first epitrite (u – – -).

– The meter (σύνταξις ποδῶν ἤ βάσεων): It is the basic unit of mediation, repeated regularly in the normalized verses. The poems can be organized in constructions κατὰ μέτρον (most of the compositions) or not use the meter as a unit. Sometimes two different meters are combined in the same verse: the so-called asinartet verses. In Greek Metrics it is usually measured by meters and not by feet as in Latin.

– Colon (κώλον): It is an element of phrase or verse, of variable length (it does not usually exceed three meters in yambos and punches, nor the cauter in dactyls and anapestos). It usually lacks value in order to analyze the structure of any stanza or poem. It is used in the hexameter and other verses used κατὰ στίχον in the sense of “verse segment delimited by a caesura”.

– Verse (στίχος): It is the unit composed by the repetition of a certain meter a number of times.

– Period: It is an intermediate extension unit between the colon and the stanza.

– System: It is a rhythmically uniform set of verses recited, delimited and well differentiated from its context.

– Stanza: Set of lyrical “tail” in response or metric correspondence with an antistrophe. Occasionally there is a remote response, that is, the antistrophe is not a direct continuation of its stanza. The pair of stanza plus antistrophe can be followed by an epoch or non-strophic chorus.