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FINGERS OF FURY Percussion of the Arabic World and beyond

Part 2 - The Frame Drum Matt Stonehouse


The frame drum As with many things, there is a time and a place for this style of playing and finding that time and place may serve you well. Don’t make the mistake of seeing this style of playing only open to those of a spiritual practice or for the use of strong trance states. It can also be used in a more mild way to just pull you and your audience into a more present awareness. I’ve experienced this in reggae and dub clubs, where the DJ just keeps holding off from changing that groove until finally, he or she lays on the vocals creating that next level of intensity and, to quote everyone on the dance floor,’ drops the bomb.’ In Flamenco they call this ‘Duende.’ The moment the audience has been waiting for, when the music finally comes together and unites the musicians with one another, the audience with the music, and all experience a mild trance state. I guess it’s music’s way of helping us to forget time and become present. Something that doesn’t happen a lot these days for most people. Saying this, the Frame drum can still be used as a solo instrument and has an endless amount of different tones which can be used for ornamentation. Listening to frame drummers such as Glen Valez will soon open your eyes and ears to just what can be achieved on this ancient drum. In this chapter I will cover playing the frame drum in a ‘holding’ position and also playing on the knee. Both positions offer new techniques and learning both is important. For me as a daf player (Persian frame drum) I found the trick was to learn to dance with the drum. It has many chains on the inside rim and at first these would sound out of control and messy. When I say dance with the drum, I don’t mean sliding across the stage like James Brown. I mean moving the drum around to get those chains working and your arms grooving. It’s only natural for the body to want to groove out when there’s great music, so why stand still?

The frame drum family is the older and wiser of the Arabic drums. These days it tends to take a back seat to the flashiness of the darbuka and many percussionists tend not to see the power and beauty held within these drums. It is thought that the frame drum (originally a rice sieve) is among the oldest drums in the world. It is also the origin of darbuka technique with the left hand on the bottom of the drum rather than the top. There are many different drums from all over the world that fall into the frame drum family each with new techniques involved. Modifications made to these drums include snares on the inside of the drum such as with the Moroccan Bendir, chains on the inside of a Persian Daf, cymbals placed around the frame of drums such as the Riq and Mazhar and even techniques that use beaters to strike the skin such as the Bodrhan from Ireland. Frame drums are made using animal skin and various timbers, however, it is not uncommon to find players using synthetic skins for convenience and consistency in tone. In many cultures all over the world we find the frame drum being used. For many it is for the use of a ritual for healing and to instigate a trance state. The Whirling Dervishes of Turkey use a constant simple 2/4 rhythm that slowly builds in speed and intensity to slowly whirl themselves into a blissful trance state and union with God. There is no need for any ornamentation or ‘fills’ because this will only interrupt the momentum that has thus been built so far. There is a true power in performing a trance rhythm for a solid length of time yet few musicians experience this. It is by performing in this way we find the deeper side to music, a side with no need for soloing, yet a stronger need for union and support from fellow performers.

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Basic technique & rhythm

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Basic technique & rhythm 0

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Basic technique & rhythm Here are some popular Arabic rhythms, also in the darbuka chapter, that incorporate the four basic techniques.

21 e & a 2 e & a 4 D MD M

21 e & a 2 e & a K D T 4D

4 1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a 4 D M M D M

4 1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a 4 D M M D KM

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Basic technique & rhythm

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4 1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a 4 D D M D M 117

4 1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a 4 D D KM D K M T K 118

4 1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a M D D M 4 D 119

4 1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a 4 D D M D D KM

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Position 1

Position 2

This Tun is the same as finger style but the thumb remains anchored in order to support the drum.

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Position 1

Position 2

Position 3

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4 1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a 4 D T Tn K T D Tn K T Tn K

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4 1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a 4 D R T R T D R T

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Persian 3/4 rhythms for frame drum

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31 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 D D T K D T

31 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 D D T K D T

31 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 D D T K D T K T K

31 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 D D T K D T

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THANK YOU FOR READING To read the full e-Book with embedded audo visit:

Frame drum techniques and rhythms [ebook prt 2]  

Percussion of the Arabic World and beyond: Frame drum techniques and rhythms. These chapters will show all techniques used for frame drums...

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