The Troupe
This drummer's journey with other drummers.

Filling in the sound

I wanted to write a bit about what type of sound we are going for as a troupe.

I have been looking at a goodly number of other Middle-Eastern drum groups, bands, and ensembles here in the United States.  For the most part they seem to consist of mostly doumbek players with the occasional riqq or tar player as well.

Groups from other places seem to be mostly tar, daf, and bendir, with a doumbek and a riqq player.

Both groups are usually between 4 and 7 players.

Only rarely have I seen any wind or string instruments as part of the group, and those tended to be guest musicians brought in for a single gig or performance.

My hope for the troupe is to have 5 players that are all comfortable on the doumbek (which is certainly useful as a teaching instrument, and a stepping stone to the other instruments) that are all familiar with at least one other percussion instrument.

On any given song, I think that a 5 man would sound best with:

  • Bendir: For a deep low tone doum and a muted jangle.
  • Dohola: For a deep low doum and good middle tone teks.
  • Tar: For a deep low tone doum and warm high tones.
  • Doumbek: For a middle tone doum and high tone teks.
  • Riqq: For a nice high tone doum and clear jangles.

Basically the idea is for the bendir, dohola and tar to hold a solid beat, and provide a good range of low tones.   The dohola and tar can also create a good undertone on the top end teks which will provide a good background for and solos or fills.  The doumbek will be doing most of the top end work, holding the counter-point and providing accents for the dancers, as well as the occasional flash with a rizz or solo.   The riqq will be providing the mid tones for the doums and adding a nice filling sound with its jangles.

We are well on our way to acquiring all of these instruments, and are certainly working hard in practice and rehearsals.   (Friday night again and all of the drummers were talking about coming by to jam.)  It is very exciting to hear us all come together and I cannot wait to hear us playing with a range of instruments, rather than all on doumbek as we do now.

I hope that in the future, when we sound as good as I think we will, that we might be approached by a string player (an oud player, send me an oud player…) or a wind player (a nar player, oh please, or even a mizmar!  I’ll take anything!) and really round out our sound in a big way.

Still that is a dream at the moment.

Drum first, daydream later!

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