Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Word of the Day: zarb, tonbak

This word came up today when I finally got the Denis Colin cd, Something in Common. That was the band at Winter Jazzfest at The Knit 2 years ago that sparked my interest in going to France to explore jazz. It's a great cd.


His trio consists of Denis Colin on bass clarinet, Didier Petit on cello, and Pablo Cuego on zarb. I saw them in the Trio + Gwen Matthews and it was very soulful and amazing. I'm sorry to say I missed them in Montreal by a few days. I hope to catch them again some day in France or on the international festival circuit. It was very soulful and amazing. I got a new appreciation of the bass clarinet after that show. I love the low sounds.


The beautiful, melodic sounds of the Zarb are unlike any other drum. It is an ancient persian goblet shaped drum, made from Walnut or Mulberry wood, and covered with a goat skin which is glued in place. In the 20th century Teherani revolutionised the Zarb, forming a school of percussion, and making many changes to traditional Zarb drumming, so much so that it has gone from a rural instrument to art music. The persian frame drum known as the Daf, was for many centuries the favourite drum of the persian court. While the zarb was played by peasants.

In the days of the Persian empire the Zarb - also known as the tombak - came second to the frame drum (Daf), which was favoured at court, and formed part of the traditional music ensemble. The Zarb preferred by travelling musicians, and farmers, who drummed at festivals.
Only in the 20th century has the Zarb come into it's own, from a simple rhythmic accompaniment to a performance in itself.
The Zarb is characterised by melodic rhythms, with the performer displaying his skill with improvisations - playing not only the rhythm, but also the solo and the melody.
The Zarb is also notable for the rhythmic roll, which is different to usual drumrolls.

Djamchid Chemirani is arguably the greatest Zarb percussiomist in the world. One of Teherani's best pupils.
He now performs with his 2 sons as the Chemirani Trio. And form a mainstay of the WOMAD lineup. Be sure to catch them if ever you're there.
Like other middle eastern drums, the Zarb is played with the fingers. However, the Zarb is unique for its wide variety of unusual techniques and strokes. It is said to have as many sounds as the piano, and some Zarb compositions have even been transcribed for piano.
A tonbak (also known as tombak, donbak, dombak and zarb, in Persian تمبک) is a goblet drum from Persia (modern Iran). It is considered the principal percussion instrument of Persian music.
The tonbak has five parts:
Small Opening
Large Opening
The skin is usually glued to the body. Goat or lamb skin is the most popular material for the skin. The body of a tonbak is made of mulberry wood which gives it its distinctive sound. The body may be decorated with carved furrows. The throat is almost cylindrical and it is connected from top to the body. The throat and the small opening together are in the form of a trumpet. The large opening is in the top and is covered by the skin. A tombak player holds the drum diagonally across his lap with the wider section usually over his right side and plays it with the fingers and the palm of the hands.
Goblet-shaped drums are played in different regions of Asia, East Europe and Africa. Although there are some similarities among all goblet drums, the techniques for playing the tonbak are different from most other goblet drums of the world. The modern tonbak described in this page is most commonly associated with the music of Iran.
The most common measures associated with the tombak are a 6/8,2/4,4/4,5/8,7/8,8/16. Today the melodic beat of the drum does not merely work as a meter but is usually woven into the music like any other instrument. The tombak was not considered a soloist instrument until the pioneering work of Ostad Hossein Tehrani in the 1950's as well as innovations of Ostad Nasser Farhangfar and others. Modern players are expanding the technique of playing the tombak exponentially. Examples include Madjid Khaladj
CD by Navid Afghah: Temple of wooden figures
CD by Navid Afghah: Genesis
CD by Mohammad Esmaili: Tombak Course Mahoor Inst.
CD by Daryush Zargari: "Saz-e Tanha" Mahoor Inst.
MADJID KHALADJ: Anthology of Iranian Rhythms - volume 1 / The basic works of Master Hossein Tehrani
MADJID KHALADJ: Anthology of iranian rhythms - volume 2 / daf (mystical drum), dayré & zang-e saringôshti
CD by Madjid Khaladj: Infinite Breath - Nafas (Ba Music Records, 2006)
DVD OF TOMBAK / Madjid Khaladj All Regions Coproduction : Le Salon de Musique & Ecole de Tombak Langues : français, anglais, espagnol Duration : 172 minutes book 80 pages (French / English.) EDV 937 CV 054 Read More :
Description: The Tombak or Zarb. Is the Chief percussion instrument of Iranian Art music. This is a one faced drum Where (he whole upper half is wider Than the lower. It is carved of single Block of wood! And it body is hallow, Open at lower end covered with a Sheepskin membrane across the Upper part. An average Tombak is 43 cm high with Playing face of 28 diameter A Tombak player holds the drum Diagonally across his lap with the Wider section usually over his right Side and it is played with the fingers And the palm of the hands.
Famous Tonbak Players
Hossein Tehrani
Siamak Pouian
Nasser Farhangfar
Mohammad Esmaili
Amir Nasser Eftetah
Jahangir Malek
Amir Bidaryan
Bahman Rajabi
Morteza Ayan
Mahmod Farahmand
Madjid Khaladj
Peyman Nasehpoor
See also
Music of Iran
External links
Tombak by Madjid Khaladj
Nay-Nava the Encyclopedia of Persian Music Instruments
The Doumbek Page
Peyman Nasehpour and His Tonbak
Structure of Tonbak
Different Names of Goblet drums in Asia, North Africa and East Europe
Tombak Network
David Kuckhermann's Online lessons
Goblet Drumming Forum
Persian Music - Directory of Persian music related web sites.
Tombak by Navid Afghah
Tombak by Pasha Karami
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia © 2001-2006 Wikipedia contributors (Disclaimer)This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.Last updated on Monday October 08, 2007 at 05:02:46 PDT (GMT -0700)View this article at Wikipedia.org - Edit this article at Wikipedia.org - Donate to the Wikimedia Foundation

1 comment:

David - www.brighteyedlife.com said...

I love your blog. It is such a wealth of information on music and jazz! Keep rockin' it Terri. :)