All About Darbuka Instrument



Darbuka instrument has a history that goes all the way back to the Common Era in Egypt and comes in different shapes and sizes. It is also very common in Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Arabic countries and North Africa. It is widely played in Turkish Folk Music amongst other instruments or solo and has also come to known as an important instrument in the Turkish classical music lately. This joyful instrument has different names in different regions such as “dümbek,” “dümbelek”, “tömbek” but its original name “dümbelek” is actually an Arabic name which originally means “to strike”.

There are two sounds in the darbuka, called düm and tek: The first sound provides the basis of the rhythm and is achieved by hitting the middle of the instrument, the second sound is mostly used for decoration and improvisation. Darbuka is also a kind of percussion instrument used in entertainments such as weddings.

Darbuka instrument is a percussion instrument that has a goblet shape. It narrows in the middle and widens back at the other end. The head of the instrument is wider than the other end. The traditional darbuka instrument have sheep, goat and fish skin for the good quality sound although contemporary ones have chemical skin called “glass skin”. This prevents the darbuka from popping or tearing so that it has a longer life. The body of the traditional darbukas used be made of wrought copper but nowadays, casting technique is used for a better sound. Nacre coating can be used for ornamentation on some types.

Darbuka instrument is played while seated or with straps standing up. It is situated under the players arm with the head of the instrument pointed at the knees. It can also be played standing up in order to allow the player to dance or walk around while playing. The player can play it simply by using his/her hands. Although it has different styles and rhythms to it, it is fairly easy to play it. Thanks to its playful sound, it is widely used at the weddings or for entertainment purposes.

Turkish Darbuka

The body of the Turkish darbuka is made of iron or aluminum and synthetic skin is used for the head of the instrument. Multiple screws are situated on the head, around the skin for tuning. It is generally played with finger snaps or by tapping with fingertips. Although it varies in some types, general measurements are 22 cm in length and 29 cm in diameter. The traditional Turkish darbuka is made out of copper, and is either held under the arm or rests on the leg. Both hands are used to produce over 50 different sounds on the rim and head of the drum. Turkish darbuka is also a kind of percussion instrument used in weddings, engagements and circumcision weddings.



Egyptian Darbuka

The Egyptian style, Darbuka, is also known as Tabla and is very popular. Different from the Turkish styled darbuka, Egyptian darbuka has rounded edges and the tuning screws are not exposed. The body can be engraved or ornamented with nacre. While Egypt is said to be the haven for Darbukas, its neighbor, the Maghreb (Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco), especially Tunisia boasts of its smaller, clay and goatskin folk versions. This musical instrument is widely used for belly dancers. However, it is wise you know that the melody and the playing technique have to largely depend upon the dancing style, environment and more. Professional players know how to play this instrument using different techniques. 



Clay Darbuka

As it’s evident from its name, the body of this instrument is made of clay. Unlike the other two, instead of using synthetic skin, goat, sheep and fish skin is stretched over the head. Clay darbukas are formed when four basic elements of earth, water, fire and air are combined successfully. Clay and the animal skin gives the instrument more of a natural sound. It is also named solo darbuka since it’s mostly played solo. It is heavier than other types of darbukas because of its material and generally played on the knees. The clay darbuka form has initially been used in Arabic countries but with musical interactions it has also started gaining popularity among Turkish musicians since 1980s. The family of clay darbukas can be observed under three main categories named as “solo”, “sumbati” and “dehollo” from the smallest size to biggest.



You can find all types of darbuka instrument in our catalogue and darbuka related items. If you want to learn this instrument, master your craft or widen your percussion family, first place to start looking is our wide range of darbuka choices with fine workmanship.

Darbuka Production Process

For many years, the darbuka has been known by different names such as dumbek, dömbelek, tömbek or Dönbek; While it was produced using terracotta in the past, today it is made using materials such as copper, aluminum, various metal alloys, porcelain, wood, metal or plaster.

The darbuka, which is always wide at the front, has a pipe structure that narrows towards the back. Darbuka, which was produced using animal skin at first, continues to be produced using mostly synthetic leather today.                             

How to wear a darbuka leather is one of the most frequently asked questions about the darbuka. The leather of the darbuka is attached with the help of a pulley. The leather is stretched on a hoop and tightened with the help of screws and mounted on the front of the drum. The darbuka, which is ready after its skin is attached, is usually colored with decorations and dyeing in accordance with various local and cultural structures. Today, there are many different design darbukas that can appeal to everyone. Darbuka, which belongs to the class of percussion instruments, is a musical instrument that can be produced in different sizes. 

The darbuka, which can easily adapt to many different music genres and is suitable for keeping rhythm, is an instrument suitable for everyone to learn and play easily.


Some Tips to Choose Right Darbuka

When you set forth a journey to Middle Eastern region, its magical music world opens doors with rhythmic notes. When you incline your’s ear to that, you can hear this melody and word “düm-düm-düm”. Firstly, you will probably assume that it is a kind of a drum. However, it is more than that. It has a special name which is “darbuka”. From Turkey to Arabia and North Africa regions this musical instrument show itself generously. You can stick without realizing to the rhythmic music.  Let me to give you some tips to choose the right darbuka drum.

  • Learn What is Your Instrument!

Without knowing what is your wants, you cannot choose the correct instrument. Even if you are familiar with the instrument, look for more details. For example, darbuka has different types according to region and culture. You should know details about these features and find your own desire.

  • Features of Your Purpose and Instrument!

Determine your purpose to play darbuka. After that you can more clearly differentiate types from each other. Of course, you should also make list the types of darbuka with features. Whereas Turkish darbuka is mostly used with finger-snapping method thanks to its design with edges , Arabic darbuka is suitable for rapid rolling fingers. So, eventhough they are from same basic instrument family, as you can see here, they are little differences to make players job easy to choose according to their purposes.

  • Know the Material!

Knowing the materials is other important tip to choose correct darbuka drum. Some of them are real goat or fish skin covering and some of them are chemical glass skin. Maybe you cannot exactly know in a glance but if you have any familarity about the darbuka drum skin, it can help you to choose correct one.

  • Find Your Music Market!

After make your basic research about instrument, you should find right place to buy it. If you can ask and get anwer from seller, it is a good news. You are in the right way. But it is also not enough. Your market should be reliable and reflect the cost clearly. If you want to buy from online markets, you can look for comments and security procedures. If you have some information about darbuka drum, you can compare the answer of seller to understand that are you in the right place to buy. It is not alwasy easy but after a little search, you can get an idea about music market. If you are looking for an online one, you can start with Sala Music to search.

1 comment

  • rehman sheik

    hi i how can i purchase please and price for daburka

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