Middle Eastern Dance
Riqs, Daffs, and Other Frame Drums

Since Middle Eastern music is formed by combining a melodic mode and a rhythmic mode drums are very important to the creation of a complete song.  The drum provides the rhythmic backbone for nearly all Middle Eastern Music.  It's often described as its heartbeat.  The rhythms played on the drum are one of the most important elements of music for Middle Eastern dancers, who follow their cues largely from the various rhythm patterns, which they shimmy, thrust, and twist to.  There are several types of drums used in Middle Eastern music.  Most are hand drums and the most common type is a single-headed drum.

Frame drums are among the most common of these single-headed drums.  They consist of a round frame usually with a skin stretched tightly over the frame.  Modern models are sometimes equipped with plastic mylar heads.  They range in diameter anywhere between 8-20 inches (about 20-50 cm).  They are held upright in one hand and played vertically.  Frame drums with cymbals are rocked back and forth to utilize cymbals but are still played mostly vertically. 

There are a number of regional variations including the name.  The بندير "Bendir" is a North African variant.  It has a snare across the frame which gives it a unique buzzing quality.  The دف "Daff" is a large frame drum with origins in Persia.  Some daffs have metal rings or links attached to the frame, when they do they are often called دایره "Daira" (meaning 'circle').   The رق "Riq" is very similar to a tambourine.  The main difference between a riq and a tambourine is that a riq has two rows of cymbals in the frame while the tambourine traditionally has only one row.  The مظهر "Mazhar" is a larger version or the riq and is popular in Egypt.  The طار "Tar" is a medium to large sized frame drum used all over the Middle East and North Africa.  No matter which type you are using the same basic rhythm patterns can be played on all of them.  Slightly different techniques are used to play frame drums with cymbals or "jingles".

To read more about Middle Eastern frame drums please visit these additional pages on our site.

About Riqs, Daffs, and Other Frame Drums
Learn about the history and development of the frame drum as well as information on their construction, differences,
buying tips and more.

Care of Riqs, Daffs, and Other Frame Drums
Learn how to take care of your frame drum.  Tips for adjusting, tightening, and replacing your drum's head, cleaning,
and even how to make minor repairs.

Frame Drum Rhythms and Playing Tips
Learn how to play your frame drum or riq and discover the variety of Rhythms you can utilize.
Egyptian Riq with inlaid mother of pearl and camel bone designs with natural skin head.  From Personal Collection.
Egyptian Clay Tabla, Inlaid with Mother of Pearl and Camel bone.  Private Collection.