Robin Adnan Anders,
Voices of the Doumbek
(Warner Bros., 1995)

If you've ever wanted to learn hand drumming after hearing Middle Eastern rhythms, this video is a good place to start. Anders does a fine job of discussing a myriad of different drum strikes and the different sounds each produces (doum, tek, kah, etc.). At the beginning of the video he even shows several yoga hand stretches and breathing techniques for loosening and warming up before practice or performance.

While his main focus of instruction is the doumbek (or tabla) there are a few instances where he introduces techniques for the dourbakee as well. The section on finger rolls on both the doumbek and the dourbakee were particularly fun to watch and learn.

I was really surprised at the variety of drum strikes demonstrated and the noticeably different sounds each one produced. The tonal differences ranged from distinct to subtle. A very large section of the video is devoted to covering all these strikes with careful explanations of how to hold and/or place your hand or fingers properly. At the end of the second part (the video is divided into sections) he gives a short performance on the dourbakee demonstrating how many of the techniques learned for the doumbek can apply equally to that instrument.

The third section finally covers three actual traditional Middle Eastern rhythms such as the Wahdah Sayirah (Ayub), Masmudi Saghir (Baladi) and the Wahdah Kabira (Chefte Telli). He first demonstrates these rhythms with the very simplest strikes such as the basic doum and tek strikes, then shows how you can embellish these same rhythms with more advanced strikes (some examples: finger rolls or snapping finger strikes).

Throughout the video Anders occasionally stresses the importance of actually developing your own feel for the music and rhythms and to never lose sight that drumming is supposed to be fun. At the end he gives an excellent doumbek performance that (according to the video cover) is from his music CD Blue Buddha. It is obvious from Anders' performances he definitely knows what he's talking about when it comes to drumming on these two types of drums.

A nice little extra is that the video includes a leaflet with some printed instructions on the three Middle Eastern rhythms covered, a sort of legend for each one, practice patterns and instructions for developing further. With careful study and practice of Anders' lessons, anyone who would like to learn Middle Eastern drumming will be on their way to developing good skills and techniques.

- Rambles
written by Dana Fletcher
published 9 August 2003

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