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The doumbek (also called dumbek, dombak, or dumbelek) and darbuka (also called darabuka, darabukka, derabucca, or darbouka) are goblet-shaped drums with a single natural skin or synthetic drumhead on the larger end with the other end left open. The shell can be made of a variety of materials including metal, ceramic, or wood. Doumbek and darbuka drums are used extensively in Middle Eastern music. The crisp sounds these drums are capable of producing enable drummers to create the often complex Middle Eastern rhythms.
Many countries throughout the Middle Eastern region use these drums extensively. For this reason there are many names associated with this style of goblet drum. In North America, two of the names often used are doumbek and darbuka (or darabuka). There are some variations in the design of these drums such as how the drumhead is mounted on the body and what the rim structure is like. For example, Egyptian doumbeks have a rounded rim surrounding the drumhead whereas in Turkish versions, the rim is squarer. The differences allow for varying playing techniques.
To play a doumbek or darbuka, a drummer can either hold the drum under one arm or position it between the knees (like the djembe playing method). It both cases, the drum is played with both hands using light touches. A bass tone is achieved by hitting the drumhead near the centre with the fingers and palm of the hand. A high-pitched sound comes from fingertip hits near the edge of the drumhead. A variety of finger techniques can be used to produce the complex rhythms often associated with Middle Eastern music.
Doumbeks and darbukas are very popular. In addition to their use in Middle Eastern music, they are used in many other musical styles. The crisp high-pitched sounds and the resonant bass tones make them ideal for many musical settings. Drummers can add these drums to their drum kits to produce some new and interesting drum rhythms. Drummers and percussionists can use doumbeks and darbukas in any setting where hand drums are appropriate. And, taking these drums to a drum circle will help to complement the deeper djembe sounds. Whether a drummer participates in Middle Eastern drumming or some other musical style, doumbeks and darbukas are excellent additions to his or her drum set up.
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