Chapter 9 Use of a Metronome Introduction Let’s look at how to use a metronome in our practice. If you’re not familiar with what a metronome is, the definition from the Oxford dictionary is: “A device used by musicians that marks time at a selected rate by giving a regular tick.” A metronome can take many forms. The most popular I have seen used today are the traditional metronome and a metronome app on their phones: Figure 30 – A traditional metronome Figure 31 – The SoundBrenner metronome app How to use a metronome We’ve established what a metronome is, but how do we use one? It’s quite simple in concept (although it can be challenging in practice). Let’s walk through how we can use a metronome app to improve our playing. 1. Download a metronome app The first thing you need to do is download a metronome app. I like to use “The Metronome by SoundBrenner”. It is a fantastic app that does exactly what it says on the tin. I know they also have various accessories, but I haven’t personally used these. The app is available on both iPhone and android. 2. Set the time signature and tempo We now need to set up the metronome to play the beats we want it to. We need to set 2 crucial things: i. The time signature – A time signature is a number that looks like a fraction. It has a numerator and a denominator. Examples of time signatures include 4/4, 2/4, 8/4, 10/8, 6/8, etc. – To set the time signature, you should find out the time signature of whatever rhythm it is you are practicing and trying to play. The time signature can usually be found next to the rhythm you’re learning, or by Googling the rhythm. Any of the rhythms that I teach will have a time signature clearly mentioned. The time signature of the Heavy Sa’idi, for example, is 4/4. ii. The tempo – The tempo is the speed at which a passage of music should be played. We typically express the tempo as a number of Beats per Minute (BPM). For example, common tempos include 80 BPM, 100 BPM, 120 BPM and 150 BPM. – To determine the tempo to practice, we need to estimate how fast we want to play. Start playing the rhythm and assess whether the tempo you’ve chosen is too fast or too slow. If we are learning a rhythm together, I will include the recommended practice tempo. 3. Play the metronome This one is a fairly straightforward step, but I’d like to just mention a point here regarding best practices: i. Let the metronome play for a few cycles first, just so that you can hear what the rhythm is like. ii. Try saying the rhythm in time with the metronome so that you get a feel for the timing and speed of the rhythm. If you’re struggling to say the rhythm, don’t worry, keep practicing and it will come. 4. Start playing in time with the metronome Here is the important step. The set-up is done, our metronome is playing, let’s get into time with the metronome! For us to do this, we must first identify where the strokes we are playing fall in relation to the metronome’s beat. Let’s use Heavy Sa’idi as an example of this: Exercise practice tempo: 80 BPM Time Signature: 4/4 (this can also be found in the top right corner of the drum tab) Now, since this is a 4/4 rhythm, our metronome will sound like this: Tick – Tock – Tock – Tock – Tick – Tock – Tock – Tock – etc. We can hear in our metronome that there is 1 Tick, followed by 3 Tocks. Our rhythm will start perfectly in time with the first Tick, and when we repeat the rhythm, we should again start on the first Tick of the next cycle. This means that we have to play our rhythm between the Tick of the first cycle and the Tick of the second cycle. To do this, I want you to play a Heavy Sa’idi on the first Tick. Just play one, and play it as well as you can, and see whether you finish before the end of the cycle, or whether you finish after the end of the cycle. If you finish before the end of the cycle, you’ve played the rhythm too quickly and need to slow down. If you finish after the end of the cycle, you’ve played the rhythm too slowly and need to speed up. Let’s just look at how the Heavy Sa’idi looks in time with a metronome: If you notice, the first Doum lands on the tick, as we previously mentioned. However, an interesting feature in this rhythm is that the Tek lands on the last tock! This means that you must time your rhythm so that you play the Tek on the last tock. Give it a shot, it will take a few tries to get used to it – but that’s okay. If you’ve tried for a good 30 minutes and you still get the hang of it, watch some YouTube videos on using a metronome or check out the Darbuka Mastery Program on the Malik Instruments website. Benefits of a metronome A metronome helps us keep time when we are practicing and playing. It is an essential part of any musician’s toolkit, and every competent musician out there must have the skills and ability to play in time to a metronome, in my personal opinion. If a musician can’t play to a metronome, I don’t think he or she can call themselves a musician! Let’s look at a few benefits of a metronome: 1. Improves timing The primary purpose of the metronome is to provide a base tempo for you to keep in time to. As such, improving your timing is arguably the most crucial benefit of a metronome. It allows you to understand where each note in your rhythm in. This becomes especially important for drummers where they must repeat rhythms over and over in perfect timing, to keep other musicians in time. 2. Slows you down A metronome helps to slow you down to focus on building technique. Beginner Darbuka players tend to speed up a lot, especially when ornamenting. Ornamentation by its very natures causes you to play more strokes in a shorter space of time, and as such, it can cause you to speed up your rhythm. This means that when you return to a slower rhythm after having done some fancy ornamentation, your rhythm is actually much faster than when you started playing! This is a big problem because eventually, you’ll be playing so fast that you can no longer ornament properly. A metronome dramatically helps with this by forcing us to play at a slower speed to build technique, and then helps us stay in that slower rhythm so we can practice for extended periods with good timing. 3. Improves recording skills If you ever decided to record something, perhaps either your own solo composition or a song along with other musicians, you’d almost definitely need to play to a click track to ensure that the timing was perfect. Most popular music editing software revolves around all instruments being in perfect timing with not only each other but also with the electronic click track, to edit appropriately after the track has been recorded. Practicing with a metronome means that when you get to a stage where you are ready to record something, you can very easily match your rhythm to a click track. 4. Builds inner tempo Your inner tempo is one of your most essential skills as a musician. Tempo will start to become ingrained in your body and mind after you play for long enough. A metronome helps you build this inner tempo. For example, I am confident that if I estimate an 80 BPM click cycle without a metronome, I’ll get it right. I’m also confident that if I heard a rhythm in a 100 BPM cycle, I’d be able to recognise the tempo instantly. This helps when playing and practicing with other musicians. If you know how fast they are going, you can easily join in at the same speed. You might think to yourself, I know that Maqsum (a popular Darbuka rhythm) might be a little too fast for this 120 BPM song, so I’ll play Malfuf (another popular Darbuka rhythm) instead! 5. Improves performing skills Aside from the previously mentioned points that also improve performing skills, a metronome and strong understanding of time signatures are essential if performing live in a formal setting with other musicians, for example when everyone is reading from sheet music. Being able to follow the timings defined in the sheet music is something you may well need to learn to do if you were to ever be in this environment, and your training with a metronome will help you with precisely that. General metronome advice I think it’s worth a small disclaimer in this section regarding the metronome. Metronomes have their uses, at certain places and at certain times. You should have various kinds of practice session: – In some practice sessions, you should focus on technique and timing, ensuring you have perfect technique and you are bang on time with any rhythm you are playing. In these kinds of focused practice sessions, you should definitely have a metronome playing. I like to use headphones where I can put one headphone in and leave the other out (so I can hear my Darbuka), so I can practice appropriately in time with the metronome. – In other practice sessions, you should allow yourself to freestyle. Don’t tie yourself down with a metronome; allow yourself to go wild and ornament your rhythm as best as you possibly can. These practice sessions will allow you to uncover different aspects of a rhythm you previously didn’t know and will help you along your Darbuka journey greatly. If you find yourself coming up short on what you can do to ornament, it might be worth studying some fancier ornamentation techniques or listening to some Arabic music songs where they play the Darbuka. Listen to the way they ornament and see if you can copy some of their techniques. In these kinds of practice sessions, a metronome would only constrict you. Turn it off for the time being and go wild with your practice! It’s also worth noting that when you play with other players, you don’t typically use a metronome, so if you rely on the metronome to keep you in time, you should keep practicing so that you can stay in time without a metronome to help you. Finally, it’s worth noting that playing with a metronome is usually harder than it is to play with other musicians. Metronomes require you to get every single stroke perfectly correct and in time with an electronically set tempo. Usually, in a live performance, you ebb and flow the tempo a little, which gives the music more flavour. This isn’t a bad thing, but if you find yourself increasingly frustrated with the metronome, remember that it’s just for training purposes and when you go out into the real world, the rhythm will be much easier to play!
Chapter 1 Introduction to Ornamentation Here’s a term that’s thrown around a lot in the Darbuka world. All over the internet and in pretty much every Darbuka guide you will read, you will find mention of the word ornamentation, so what exactly is it? Let’s define the word ornamentation. Ornamentation is the action of adding decorations to something to enhance its appearance or make it more elaborate. So, ornamentation (Zakhrafa in Arabic), in simple terms, is taking something simple and adding to it to make it prettier. The way we see it, that translates to one of two things when put in the context of the Darbuka: • Adding ornaments to the Darbuka itself • Adding ornaments to a Darbuka rhythm Adding ornaments to the Darbuka itself The first kind of ornamentation would be adding ornaments to the Darbuka itself, or in other words, making the Darbuka prettier. Darbuka craftsmen work very hard to make sure that the Darbuka instrument itself looks stunning. There are few instruments out there today that look as good a Darbuka, and that’s a fact. The stunning Mother of Pearl designs used on Darbukas are not found anywhere else in the world of musical instruments. One of the reasons that ornamentation is such a keyword in the Darbuka world is because the Darbuka, by its very nature, wants to be elaborate. The Darbuka is not intrinsically a simple instrument. As such, the instrument itself is something that craftsmen work very hard to ensure is a beautiful instrument to look at. So now it is the responsibility of us, as players, to ensure that the rhythms themselves are made more elaborate to match the beautiful Darbuka bodies. This kind of ornamentation is apparent, although not overt. It is clear that the Darbuka’s aluminium shells are ornamented with incredible designs, however typically when we refer to Darbuka ornamentation we are referring to the second kind of ornamentation: Adding ornaments to a Darbuka rhythm This is really what most people are referring to when they talk about Darbuka ornamentation, making a rhythm prettier. This topic is quite vast and makes up a large part of all learning that one will do in the Darbuka world. However, in short, we are talking about adding flavour to a basic Darbuka rhythm. The Darbuka player’s individual flavour Ornamenting a Darbuka rhythm means adding your own individual flavour to the rhythm. Typically, there will be a core rhythm that will provide the basis for you to start ornamenting from. This core rhythm’s only purpose is to give you a direction, a general route to follow. This is handy in many ways, as it helps set the time signature, and it helps define where the band or group want the main notes to be in the drum rhythm. After this, though, it’s up to you as a drummer to make the rhythm fit the song or whatever piece of music or dance you are playing. A fancy elaborate rhythm played when the rest of the musicians are playing a simple beat will seem out of place, a slow, basic rhythm when the music is reaching a climactic point will spoil the mood of the song. As such, it’s essential to take the bare bones of any rhythm and build them into something fit for purpose. Just as a chef adds seasoning based on the dish he is preparing; you too should add ornaments to your strokes based on what piece of music is being made. Types of ornamentation Ornamentations on the Darbuka can come in many forms, here are some examples: – Using the Ka technique to fill in the gaps – Using the Rizz technique to ornament a basic Doum – Using the ascending/descending Glissando techniques to step up the music when entering a faster part of the song, and to step down the music when entering a slower part of the song – Using the Bridge technique to transition between segments of a song – Breaking out of the current rhythm for a few bars to add impact and then returning to the original rhythm – And much more! Space is beautiful This is a crucial point when it comes to ornamentation. Beginner and intermediate Darbuka players have a strong tendency to add too much when they start their ornamentation journey. This causes the rhythm to become overcooked and makes it feel congested. While it is great to begin using ornaments in your rhythms, always keep in mind that the reason you are adding ornaments is that you want to highlight how amazing your Darbuka skills are. If you want heads to turn when you play; you need to do something extra-ordinary. If your whole rhythm is highly and elaborately ornamented, people will actually start getting bored of the rhythm. Conversely, if your rhythm is simple, relevant and enjoyable, and then you add an extra-ordinary few bars of ornamentation, you’ll get heads turning, and people will think “Wow. That’s some fantastic Darbuka playing. That’s the goal, never forget it.
Chapter 2 Learning Ornamentation Introduction Ornamentation is individualistic to its player. Realistically if two musicians were to play to the same ornamented rhythm, it would sound slightly different. Even teacher and student would have variations in their ornamentative techniques. My first teacher and I share a lot of similar characteristics in our Maqsum ornamentation, for example. However, if you listen to our playing, we each have our own individual flavour, we add in sounds in slightly different ways, we create our own rhythm, despite the fact that it is fundamentally the same. For this reason, ornamentation is hard to teach. Let’s compare the different ways of teaching ornamentation. From teachers The oral tradition of learning is very strong in Arabic Music. There are so many elements, so many nuances which are impossible to convey through written notation. These elements are best conveyed through direct transmission from teacher to student, where the student can watch the teacher play, absorb the teacher’s playing style and attempt to replicate it, with direct supervision of the teacher. This is by far the most superior way to learn only Darbuka ornamentation, but any instrument in general. However, it becomes particularly important in Arabic Music where so much is informal and intricately nuanced. Furthermore, ornamentation is not set in stone. Not by any means. I might discuss an ornamentative technique with my teacher and agree how we will ornament together for a particular performance or piece, only to be completely over-ruled when the performance starts with a brand new ornamentative rhythm. This is not a bad thing, because Arabic Music allows for the percussionist to dynamically ornament his or her rhythm to the music being played. Very infrequently is the specific ornamentation of the percussionist notated. I’ll give you another example of this. I was once with my teacher at an informal jamming session with some friends and fellow musicians. We were just jamming to some new compositions and pieces that our colleagues were experimenting with, when someone new arrived, a Greek Orthodox Christian, who primarily played traditional Greek folk music with a religious twist to it. This musician started playing a piece, and people started joining in and jamming. By this point, I was a fairly accomplished Darbuka player in my own right, but since my teacher was with me, he picked up his Darbuka to start playing and I sat back to watch the show. My teacher watched for a moment, and then entered the song with the most amazing ornamented version of the Karachi rhythm I’d ever heard. It flowed perfectly with this musician, with whom we had never played before, and yet they sounded so synchronised. I remember looking at my teacher and thinking, “I would never have been able to come up with a rhythm like that and play it so confidently and seamlessly.” This is the benefit of the oral tradition, of learning directly from a teacher. You will see stunning performances which will enhance your own playing skills from just watching. From books When learning from books, you have the advantage of a great deal of structure to your learning. If you’re a visual learner, this is invaluable. If you appreciate complex rhythms being clearly notated so that you can follow them perfectly, books are great, notation is great, musical scores are your best friend. Not only that, learning in a formal setting with structure can be very important if you will eventually end up playing with a large ensemble or band, where notation is very important. I’ll give you an example to set the scene. When I was a Darbuka student, I once had a summer in which I was relatively free. Business was slow, so I took time off from work and I decided to travel around between cities and see what percussion teachers I could find and learn something from. I remember meeting with one teacher, an incredible Iranian Daff player who regularly recorded and performed with internationally renowned musician, Sami Yusuf. I sat down with him and he taught me the basic strokes on the Iranian Daff, which I hadn’t played before. Very early on in our studies, I remember him taking out a book of Iranian Daff rhythms, all notated using musical score, and told me to start playing some of those rhythms. At this point, I had been playing Darbuka for a while but my ability to read music was very poor. It made me realise that while it was great that my prior experience was informal and face-to-face with a good teacher, the fact that I had no formal musical education would severely let me down if I ever tried to play with a musician in a more formal setting. It is for this reason that I strongly believe books, formal notation and studying is valuable, and should not be discouraged. However, a teacher is essential. A teacher will help draw out the true beauty of any rhythm. Furthermore, percussive ornamentation is very difficult to notate, and as such most of the time it is not notated. In this book I will give you some ornamented versions of various rhythms, so that you can apply the techniques we are learning, however it’s then up to you to start improving your rhythms and dynamically ornamenting them based on your own circumstances and situation. This will be tough at first and practicing these with a teacher is the best way to improve this. To summarise, I strongly believe in learning from teachers and direct transmission of knowledge, but I also appreciate the importance of books and notation. Someone who can bring these two together becomes a very strong and formidable musician with the ability to play and perform in a wide range of circumstances and scenarios. My sincere advice to you would be to learn from this book, take in the knowledge and practice, but also watch the instructional videos on the Malik Instruments website to further your understanding. Take an online course on basic music theory and learn how to at least read notated drum rhythms, and to then take all of this and find some amazing Darbuka players and just learn from them! Soak in their playing and imitate them.
Chapter 7 The Bridge Introduction Some of you who have previous percussive experience may be wondering “You’re talking about the bridge now? We’ve been doing bridges since the last book!”. You would be 100% correct. You have all been playing bridges right since the ornamented Heavy Sa’idi we learnt in Book 1! The bridge is actually a very normal and common technique, it simply involves a “phrase” that allows you to move seamlessly from the end of one rhythm into the start of a new rhythm, even if those rhythms are the same. For example: This is the rhythm we learnt back in the last book. If you remember, we used the Teka at the end of the rhythm to help us lead back into the Doum Doum. The resulting sound resembling: TekaDoum Doum Ka Doum Doum Ka Tek TekaDoum Doum ka Doum Doum Ka Tek This Teka is a perfect example of a phrase that we can use to bridge two rhythms. Take Malfuf for example, we can use the Teka again to bridge two Malfuf rhythms together. Remember that the Bridge is only used when trying to join rhythms together. If we want to finish a rhythm, we obviously don’t add a bridge. Practice tips The best practice tips for the Bridge is to play a lot of Bridges. However, you should get used to applying this to different rhythms and circumstances. For example, the Bridge when switching to a different rhythm will be different a Bridge than when repeating the same rhythm. The former should be more elaborate, whereas the latter should be simpler and more manageable (as you’ll be playing it a lot more). Common mistakes The most common mistake I see with the Bridge is overuse. While a Bridge can sound amazing and can really enhance and add a lot to a rhythm, it is crucial to allow the rhythm to breathe. Give it some space. Don’t play a Bridge on every single cycle and use it as a tool to enhance your playing, not as just part of a normal rhythm. Note that this refers to more complex Bridge techniques. A simple Teka at the end of a rhythm is usually fine to be repeated right through the whole performance, however a complex Bridge (such as those that use TekaTeka, or Glissando techniques), should be saved for when you want to make a real emphasis on something. Usage in practice As previously mentioned, simple Bridge techniques, like a Teka at the end of a cycle, can be repeated and played through any cycle. For example Maqsum with Bridge Malfuf with Bridge Sama’i Thaqeel with Bridge More complex Bridge techniques however should be saved for when you want to emphasis something. Examples of this include: – Switching into a brand new Darbuka rhythm – A change in tempo – Announcing a new instrument starting (e.g. violin is entering the music) – Moving to a different part of a song (e.g. a change in melody, or in Arabic Music, a change in Maqam) – To fill a gap during a rest when other instrumentalists or vocalists are silent – The start of the chorus, or verse. There are limitless examples of Bridge techniques that can be used, and I encourage you to play with other Darbuka players and listen to good recordings for inspirations on how to concoct new Bridge techniques. However, a few fantastic Bridge ideas are below: Glissando Bridge KaTa KaTa Ta RaTaKa KaTa Rolling Doums TaRaTaKaTaKaTaka
Chapter 8 Modulations Introduction Modulation, a common and frequently practiced technique in which we modify the rhythm we are playing with a different rhythm for a cycle or two. For example, by replacing an Ayub cycle with a Karachi cycle, creating a very Tek heavy effect on the modulated Karachi cycle, before returning back to the Ayub cycle to resume the bassy Doum heavy Ayub rhythm. Modulation is a practice that is regularly used throughout Arabic and Turkish playing styles and executed properly it can add a wonderful flavour to your playing. However, if it’s not done properly the rhythm may sound confused and amateurish! It is therefore essential to plan your modulations properly, practice them well and only use them in performance when you are confident in the modulation you are about to execute. Anything less than that may sound very half-baked and may actually confuse other musicians! Technique When we modulate, we have to do a little bit of planning, and we must understand the relative beat cycles of the rhythms we are going to play and modulate. Let’s take a few examples. Let’s say we were playing in a Maqsum cycle. Maqsum is a 4-beat cycle, and as such we have a number of options. Here are a few: Maqsum Modulations Another Maqsum family rhythm (e.g. Heavy Sa’idi) 1 Long Malfuf (2 beats extended to 4 beats) 4 Doum’s each played on a beat (4 beats altogether) The first half of Masmoudi Kabir (4 beats altogether) 2 Ayub (4 beats altogether) Now that we’ve got an idea in our head as to what we can use for our modulation, we must decide how to place it in the rhythm. The key thing is not overusing it, and to ensure that the existing rhythm is not lost. This means that the modulation must not be played for so long that people forget about the original Maqsum rhythm. Rather, the modulation should be used for effect. For example, every time a chorus starts, you could add a 4-beat modulation. If you did this consistently throughout the song, people would expect the modulation at the beginning of the chorus and would therefore add anticipation and make the music more enjoyable. Another great use case would be adding the modulation when a performer is in the middle of a particular manoeuvre. In this case, a Maqsum rhythm with a slow Malfuf modulation added could be a fantastic, as the Malfuf modulation slows the rhythm down, allowing the performer to perform some kind of manoeuvre. If this is timed well, it can sound absolutely great. Practice tips Again, this is a technique which should be practiced through experience. I would always recommend planning and practicing modulations yourself before you perform them, just to understand them in your head and ensure they sound like what you think they sound like! Sometimes, a musician might can a modulation is a good idea but in practice, it sounds undercooked. Plan your modulations, practice them, and perform them. Also ensure to watch other drummers and see what kind of modulations they use that you can add to your repertoire. Common mistakes A common mistake with a modulation is overuse or modulating for too long. If you modulate rhythms too much, you run the risk of confusing other musicians/performers (or the audience). They might be left thinking “Are you playing Rhythm A or Rhythm B? Make your mind up!”. It is therefore important to ensure you only add a modulation when you’ve timed it properly in your head and are confident it will add something to the rhythm. Another common mistake is, as previously mentioned, modulating into a rhythm which doesn’t sound great in practice in conjunction with the original rhythm. For example, if we were playing Maqsum and wanting to modulate with a slow Malfuf, we’d have to match the playing style of the two rhythms together in order to make it sound good. Specifically, if we were playing Maqsum 3, we wouldn’t be able to modulate with Malfuf 1, because Malfuf 1 is too slow and choppy. We would be much better off modulating with Malfuf 3, which could sound amazing because of its “rolling” sound (see examples below). In this scenario, we know that theoretically we can use Malfuf to modulate Maqsum, but we have to choose which Malfuf rhythm we use. Usage in practice There really is limitless modulation that are possible, and it is very much circumstantial, based on who you are playing with and what the desired effect of the modulation is. I’ll include some examples of interesting modulations you can consider, but really, you’ll have to pro-actively come up with new and interesting modulations for whatever purpose it is you are creating the modulation for.
Chapter 9 Omission Introduction Omission is a technique whereby we choose to omit certain strokes in order to create effect. It is a common technique that is used and taught, sometimes very early on in a student’s studies. I was taught a version of Sa’idi very early on in my studies that involved omitting a Doum, and to this day it remains a core part of my Maqsum family ornamentation techniques. We will look at this particular technique later on in this section. Technique The core idea behind this technique is to create anticipation, and it is more often than not the Doum that is omitted in order to create this anticipation. The reason for this is that the Doum is usually a very regular part of a rhythm and contributes very strongly to the basic rhythm (Iqa’). If a Doum is missing, people will generally notice because something has been omitted from the basic rhythm. As such, they will wait until the Doum returns, and hence bringing the rhythm back into balance. By removing a Doum, you are almost teasing the audience by building this suspense and anticipation, before releasing the Doum back into the rhythm, providing a sense of comfort to the audience that the Doum has returned. Sounds cheesy, I know. But it works. Practice tips With this technique, you also need to plan ahead a little and work out just where you can drop Doums, as not all Doums can be dropped as easily. Typically, the first Doum in a rhythm can be dropped, and the previous Bridge can be rolled over into the current rhythm, as we will look at later, but in order to do this the previous bridge needs to be long enough. As you can see, there’s a lot to think about! It’s important to plan these omissions out and practice them so you get a feel for it before trying it. Similar to a modulation, you might think something sounds good in your head whereas it doesn’t really in practice. Usage in practice Doum strokes can be dropped fairly often in practice, depending on the circumstance. You could potentially play a rhythm in which you drop a Doum on every other line, and it would sound fine. In this case, you’re using omission quite regularly and ornamentatively, which is acceptable. An example is the below rhythm. Alternatively, you could use the above ornament for more effect, by only playing it at the end of a verse or chorus, or on every fourth line for example. Back to the main reason we omit a Doum, in order to build anticipation, a very common example of this is to replace the Doum strokes in a rhythm with a Tek note. For example: In this example, we have replaced all of the Doum strokes in Maqsum with Tek notes instead. We’ve also ornamented the end of the line with the omitted Doum strokes, creating even more anticipation. If used at the right time a song or performance, this could have the effect of building a lot of anticipation, and creating a strong “drop”, or climax, when the Doum is re-introduced.
Chapter 10 Rhythm Entries Introduction Now, this is a really fun one. Lots of pressure, only one chance to get it right. You either burst into a rhythm with an amazing groove and capture everyone’s attention, or you fluff it up and people wonder what on earth that racket is! That’s just part of the fun of a rhythm entry. It’s also a great way to test your internal rhythm skills, as if you enter a rhythm, you are jumping into an existing time signature and existing flow: – If you have bad internal rhythm, you won’t be able to enter a rhythm easily. – If you have a somewhat decent internal rhythm, you might need a cycle or two to adjust, but you’ll be able to eventually join a rhythm. – If you have good internal rhythm, you’ll be able to perform an intricate rhythm entry to perfection and seamlessly enter a rhythm. Rhythm entries also highlight the nature of the Darbuka as a loud and powerful instrument, in its traditional role in Arabic Music of rhythm controller (Dabit Al Iqa’). The Darbuka makes a statement when it enters a rhythm, and a rhythm entry showcases this. If you were to compare a Darbuka and a violin for example, you would see the difference. The violin usually enters a rhythm slowly and doesn’t announce its presence as boldly as a Darbuka. This is just by the nature of the instrument, but it’s important to bear this in mind when executing a rhythm entry. Technique There are many ways to enter a rhythm, and in fact you could pretty much use any Darbuka rhythm as a rhythm entry. For example, you could enter a rhythm with just a simple Maqsum and call it a rhythm entry. Typically, however, we have two main routes that we follow: 1. Firstly, we could come up with an elaborate rhythm entry that creates a loud and powerful statement and use this for the first cycle. After we perform this ornamented line for our first cycle, we switch down into the regular rhythm that we will be playing. For example, if our standard rhythm is Maqsum 2, we can play a heavily ornamented version of Maqsum 3 for our rhythm entry, and then step down into Maqsum 2. This would have the desired rhythm entry effect. 2. Secondly, we could play a very simple rhythm as our rhythm entry, just a basic Maqsum 1 for example. This would be best executed if there were numerous percussion instruments, and they all played this simple rhythm for the first cycle (and maybe even the second cycle too). Then, after the rhythm entry, we switch to a faster and more ornamented version and the music starts. The playing of the basic rhythm at the start has a dramatic effect, as the sounds of the Doum and Tek can sound quite isolated if played without ornamentation. This technique also has the desired rhythm entry effect. Practice tips I would really recommend drilling your rhythm entries to perfection. A rhythm entry is a high-pressure scenario where you will draw a lot of attention to yourself, drill them hard. Furthermore, when practicing, ensure you practice actually entering a rhythm, even if it is just a metronome beat. The reason for this is that you have to make sure your timing is perfect when entering the rhythm, and you have to judge the entry tempo just by listening and watching. Turn on a metronome and practice your rhythm entry at different tempos. You should be just as comfortable doing a Maqsum rhythm entry at 120 BPM as you are at 80 BPM. To make it easier to judge the tempo you should be entering, try and say the rhythm entry under your breath to get into the right time signature, before playing it on the Darbuka. Remember, you only get to enter a rhythm once in a performance! Common mistakes The most common mistake, by far, with a rhythm entry is lack of confidence in yourself. If you’ve practiced hard, you’ll be confident. If you’re confident, you’ll be able to enter the rhythm with your head held high and without any embarrassing blunders. On the other hand, if you’re not confident you may end up not entering the rhythm powerfully enough, and maybe even lose the timing while you do it. This is a big issue that hinders a player from executing a strong rhythm entry. Make sure you’ve practiced your rhythm entry a lot and you’re confident in it! Usage in practice Again, it’s best to watch other players and come up with great entries of your own, and it’s also essential to adapt every rhythm entry for the situation that it’s required, but here are a few generic ones to get you started! Ratakata ratakata ratakatakatakataka Doum Tek First half of Masmoudi Kabir into Ayub Tek Teka Teka taka tak taka taka taka Doum Tek
Chapter 11 Rhythm Exits Introduction Exiting a rhythm, while not nearly as important as entering a rhythm, can also add to your performance and showcase your mastery. When we exit a rhythm, we want to leave the listeners thinking “Wow, that was some great Darbuka playing!”, and a well-executed rhythm exit is a great way to do that. When we refer to rhythm exits, we are referring to what we do at the end of a performance to finish on a high. We aren’t talking about switching into a different rhythm. The assumption is that the Darbuka will not be playing for a space of time after it has left the rhythm and were it to enter the rhythm again it would likely be with a good rhythm entry. Technique There is no set technique for exiting rhythms, but we do have some guidelines that we can follow, depending on the circumstance. Typically, we tend to increase the rhythm when approaching a rhythm exit. This could be by increasing tempo and speeding up the last 4 or 5 bars while approaching the finish, or by adding a drum roll (which is not covered in this book). This can have the effect of signalling to the audience that we are about to finish. I would also say that there are some notes that are better to finish on than others. An example would be the Slap, which is a nice clear note to finish on, or a Doum, which is a rounded and bassy note to finish on. When you approach your finish, try and style your rhythm exits in such a way that makes it clear that the rhythm is finished by using notes that sound quite final, like the Doum and Slap. Note: If we are playing with other musicians, it’s important to keep in line with what everyone else is doing, and to finish on an appropriate beat. For example, it is unwise to do a little flourish after all of the other musicians have finished and then finish on your own rhythm exit, unless everyone has agreed to this. Also, we must decide whether we are finishing on the last beat of our current cycle, or the first beat of the next cycle: Last beat of current cycle First beat of next cycle Doum Tek Ka Tek Doum Ka Slap Doum Tek Ka Tek Doum Ka Tek Teka Doum If we are finishing on the first beat of the next cycle, we would normally just finish with a plain Teka Doum, and this isn’t too exciting. While it is possible to ornament the rhythm exit, it’s easiest and most appropriate to just play an ornamented rhythm before the finish and then just play a Teka Doum or Teka Slap to finish the rhythm on the first beat of the following cycle. Common mistakes A common mistake that people might make is to finish too early or too late. If you have a fancy rhythm exit planned out in your head, you might rush it a little and finish your drum rhythm a beat or two early. This can detract from the unity with the other musicians/performers and won’t look great. Try and keep the cohesion by ensuring you finishing perfectly in time. There is a side note to that point, regarding informal jamming sessions/performances. More often than not, these are led by the main vocalist/performer. As such, you have to be alert and aware at all times to ensure that you’re ready to do a rhythm exit or finish strongly should the lead performer choose to finish the piece. Typically, they might make some kind of hand gesture, or alter their playing in such a way that they might finish, and you should be watching this closely in order to be ready for the finish. Common signals include hand gestures, change of tempo, playing a basic rhythm (Iqa’) on their instrument, repeating the chorus of a song multiple times in a row, etc. Finally, as previously mentioned, make sure you don’t finish on a note or phrase that leaves the listener wanting more. Try and finish on a note that sounds complete. For example, it is unwise to finish on a standard Malfuf cycle, as this cycle, by its very nature, requires repeated cycles to create the rhythm. Finishing on this cycle will just leave the listener expectant of something else to come. The same goes for Karachi, and many other rhythms. Usage in practice Practically, there are an unlimited number of fancy and creative rhythm exits you can come up with. Here are a few common examples
Chapter 12 Putting it All Together Introduction We’ve now learnt a great deal of ornamentative techniques, and there are lot of tools in our repertoire for ornamenting. I’m going to give you an interest piece to practice that will help you use these techniques in a practical application which you will be able to use many of the ornaments we’ve learnt in real life, during actual performances. The ornaments in this piece are fairly difficult, but you should have seen them all at least once before in the previous sections, so I’m confident you’ll get it. If you’re really struggling, break down the pieces into smaller sections and work on maybe 4 bars at a time. Maqsum composition