Classes for the beginning and intermediate student focus on technique and rhythms from the Middle East, including Egypt and the Mediterranean area, the Levant, Iran/Persia, and the Arabian Peninsula. The primary instrument we use is the doumbek or goblet drum. We also work on transferring doumbek knowledge to various Middle Eastern frame drums such as the tar, daf, dayereh, and riq, while adding in techniques specific to each of these types of percussion.
Level 1 classes cover the three basic doumbek strokes (doum, tek, ka) and introduce seven fundamental Middle Eastern rhythms in basic time signatures: Ayoub & Malfuf in 2/4 time; Beledi, Maqsoum, & Saiidi in 4/4 time; Masmoudi & Chiftetelli in 8/4 time. Students learn basic & embellished forms of these rhythms as well as how to gracefully transition from one rhythm to another. The emphasis is on developing a solid foundation with appropriate volume and speed.
Students move to Level 2 at the discretion of the instructor, after demonstrating proficiency in Level 1 topics. This class introduces more standard time rhythm variations, rhythms in less common time signatures such as 6/8 and 10/8, and rhythms in “odd” time signatures rarely found in Western music. Students learn what rhythms are suitable for different situations and dances. They learn additional playing strokes such as slaps, pops, and rolls and add them to rhythms they already know. The primary focus is still on doumbek, but those students who are interested begin working with frame drums as well.
Students in the Middle Eastern percussion classes are required to have their own full-sized doumbek with a 9 inch or greater diameter head. Students wishing to focus on a frame drum will also need to provide their own drum of the specific type they are most interested in.