Dumbek rhythms

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Dumbek rhythms are a collection of rhythms that are usually played with hand drums such as the dumbek.[1] These rhythms are various combinations of these three basic sounds:

  • doum (D), produced with the dominant hand striking the sweet spot of the skin.
  • tek (T), produced with the dominant hand striking the rim.
  • ka (K), produced with the recessive hand striking the rim.


In a simple notation, these three sounds are represented by three letters: D, T, and K. When capitalized, the beat is emphasized, and when lower-case, it is played less emphatically.[1] These basic sounds can be combined with other sounds:

  • suk or slap (S), produced with the dominant hand. Similar to the doum except the fingers are cupped to capture the air, making a loud terminating sound. The hand remains on the drum head to prevent sustain.
  • trill (l), produced by lightly tapping three fingers of one hand in rapid succession on the rim
  • roll, rushes (r), produced by a rapid alternating pattern of teks and kas

This is the simple dumbek rhythm notation for the 2/4 rhythm known as ayyoub:



There are many traditional rhythms. Some are much more popular than others. The "big six" Middle Eastern rhythms are ayyoub, beledi, chiftitelli, maqsoum, masmoudi and saidi.


See also[edit]