"I am deeply grateful for the magic of the internet gifting me the opportunity to learn from you here in Ecuador.
Very excited to keep practicing, you are awesome!"

Pyasa Chetan

"You are an inspiration to me; there are not many people in this world who have the passion you have!"

James Francois

"I wanted to let you know how much I am getting from your site, or more so, your
non-ego style of teaching. The July Darbuka challenge was the biggest jump of growth in my life."

Arne Pederson

Click here for a Free Preview of the Fingers of Fury Subscription Plans

The cart is empty

"This will transform the drumming community more than any dvd, book or workshop series could ever do, and I've purchased every dvd, book and attended every workshop in the USA at one point or another!"

Andrew DesChenes,
Subscriber

Darbuka Teaching Resources

PDF format coming soon!
Introduction to Arabic Drumming                                 c.2009 Matt Stonehouse  

Darbuka-Doumbek-Derbouka-Darbouka-Belly dance drum

Whilst the Darbuka consists of many different tones, we can play most rhythms and variations using only four of them. You may have heard that if you can play just three or four guitar chords, you can play every song The Beatles ever wrote!? It’s the same with Darbuka.

Like the guitar, you could spend a lifetime mastering the instrument and there is an endless spectrum of colour and sound that it can produce (in the right hands), but you can still have limitless fun with just the basics.

Note: For an in-depth look at the Darbuka please read ‘Fingers of Fury-Percussion of the Arabic World and Beyond.

These four essential tones are- Dum-Tak-Ka-Slap (mute/grab)

Dum- Low note played with the right hand.
Tak- High note played with the right hand.
Ka- High note played with the left hand.
Slap- High note played with the right hand yet much sharper than a ‘Tak.’ If the Slap tone is played softly it is referred to as a ‘mute’ stroke or sometimes a ‘grab.’ This is also easier for the beginning darbuka student to play.  

You will notice that unlike the Djembe or Conga’s, the darbuka is played resting across your leg. This makes it a little more challenging at the start but as you progress as a player you will see why it is played that way. You are best to think of the darbuka as a finger drum more than a hand drum. If you play the darbuka using the same position as a Djembe drum your fingers will be on the wrong angle and you will get poor tone.

Once we have learnt these essential tones we can move on to the rhythms.

Arabic rhythms are made up of low notes and high notes or ‘Dums’ and ‘Taks.’
The order of these is one of the main factors that give the rhythm its unique feel and determines what style of dance will be used.

Let’s start with the two beat cycles. A two beat cycle runs over a count of two beats before returning to the start and repeating itself once again. Simple! As you can probably guess it is also a rather short cycle. Remember to also memorise the names of each rhythm as you are studying them!

You will notice that many of the rhythms you are about to learn have been grouped with rhythms that share a similarity. This will make it much easier to remember them all. Let’s get playing!

Ayub

1

e

&

a

2

e

&

a

Dum

 

 

Ka

Dum

 

Tak

 

Karatchi

1

e

&

a

2

e

&

a

Tak

 

 

Ka

Tak

 

Dum

 

Malfuf

1

e

&

a

2

e

&

a

Dum

Ka

Ka

Tak

Ka

Ka

Tak

Ka

Kaligi

1

e

&

a

2

e

&

a

Dum

Ka

Ka

Dum

Ka

Ka

Tak

Ka

Take a look at the similarity between Ayub and Karatchi. They both share the exact same pattern but have the high and low notes in different order. Ayub has two ‘Dum’ tones and starts on a low note. Karatchi starts up high and ends down low with its one and only ‘Dum’ tone. Both of these rhythms have a trance quality about them because of their clever yet simple structure.

Malfuf and Kaligi are also very similar rhythms except for the extra ‘Dum’ tone in Kaligi. Having the extra ‘Dum’ gives Kaligi a heavier and more driving character.

Malfuf being the lighter of the two rhythms is often played at a faster tempo than Kaligi. One thing to notice is the structure of Kaligi and were else it appears. If we take the fundamental part of the rhythm i.e.; D- -D- -T- , we have the same rhythm used in a style of music called dancehall. If we swing this pattern we have the typical rhythm used in over a million Bollywood classics! Many of the Arabic darbuka rhythms you will learn will almost certainly appear in other styles of music from different cultures.

Moving right along, let’s take a look at some popular four beat cycles that you are bound to hear a thousand times during your life as an Arabic percussionist.

Think of these next four rhythms as being a part of their own family. By learning these together and seeing the similarity between them all will help you remember them all.

Maqsum

1

e

&

a

2

e

&

a

3

e

&

a

4

e

&

a

D

 

T

 

 

 

T

 

D

 

 

 

T

 

 

 

Baladi

1

e

&

a

2

e

&

a

3

e

&

a

4

e

&

a

D

 

D

 

 

 

T

 

D

 

 

 

T

 

 

 

Saiidi

1

e

&

a

2

e

&

a

3

e

&

a

4

e

&

a

D

 

T

 

 

 

D

 

D

 

 

 

T

 

 

 

Heavy Saiidi

1

e

&

a

2

e

&

a

3

e

&

a

4

e

&

a

D

 

D

 

 

 

D

 

D

 

 

 

T

 

 

 

Above is the fundamental part of each rhythm. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘skeleton.’ I have written them in this basic form because you can then see just how similar they all are to one another. Maqsum has one low note at the start and another near the middle.  Baladi has two low notes at the start and one near the middle, Saiidi is opposite of Baladi and then Heavy Saiidi has two at the start and two near the middle. Take close note of each rhythm and memorise their names by where the low notes i.e.; ‘Dums, are placed.

Once you can play these rhythms and have memorised their names, try ornamenting them with the below examples.

Maqsum

1

e

&

a

2

e

&

a

3

e

&

a

4

e

&

a

D

 

T

 

T

K

T

 

D

 

T

K

T

 

 

 

Baladi

1

e

&

a

2

e

&

a

3

e

&

a

4

e

&

a

D

 

D

 

T

K

T

 

D

 

T

K

T

 

 

 

Saiidi

1

e

&

a

2

e

&

a

3

e

&

a

4

e

&

a

D

 

T

 

T

K

D

 

D

 

T

K

T

 

 

 

Heavy Saiidi

1

e

&

a

2

e

&

a

3

e

&

a

4

e

&

a

D

 

D

 

T

K

D

 

D

 

T

K

T

 

 

 

Enjoy your drumming!

Matt Stonehouse  Fingers of Fury