For the purpose of this exercise we are going to class our ethnic percussion range as djembes, darbukas, and tabla. The first coming from West Africa, second from East and North Africa, and the third from India.
The djembe greeted us with its presence well over a thousand years ago in modern-day countries such as Ivory Coast and Senegal. Made out of carved hardwood with a rope-tuned goat skin head, the djembe was originally intended as a gathering drum and directly translates into “everyone gather together in peace”.
The darbuka or goblet drum started life just shy of a thousand years ago and comes from Babylonia. Typically much smaller than the average djembe and higher in pitch, the darbuka is usually held under the arm or placed on the players lap. Darbuka’s vary in style, most notably the Turkish and Egyptian versions with one having the edges of the head exposed and the other having a curved edge respectively.
The tabla has been around since the 13th century and is most popular in countries such as India and Pakistan. For such a simple looking drum, there is a lot to these instruments and the player used a lot of finger tip as opposed to full hand slaps and cracks.