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The beautiful, melodic sounds of the Zarb are unlike any other drum. It is an ancient persian goblet shaped drum, made from Walnut or Mulberry wood, and covered with a goat skin which is glued in place.

In the 20th century Teherani revolutionised the Zarb, forming a school of percussion, and making many changes to traditional Zarb drumming, so much so that it has gone from a rural instrument to art music.

The persian frame drum known as the Daf, was for many centuries the favourite drum of the persian court. While the zarb was played by peasants.

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Zarb playing


In the days of the Persian empire the Zarb - also known as the tombak - came second to the frame drum (Daf), which was favoured at court, and formed part of the traditional music ensemble. The Zarb preferred by travelling musicians, and farmers, who drummed at festivals.

Only in the 20th century has the Zarb come into it's own, from a simple rhythmic accompaniment to a performance in itself.

The Zarb is characterised by melodic rhythms, with the performer displaying his skill with improvisations - playing not only the rhythm, but also the solo and the melody.

The Zarb is also notable for the rhythmic roll, which is different to usual drumrolls.

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Djamchid Chemirani is arguably the greatest Zarb percussiomist in the world. One of Teherani's best pupils.
He now performs with his 2 sons as the Chemirani Trio. And form a mainstay of the WOMAD lineup. Be sure to catch them if ever you're there.

Like other middle eastern drums, the Zarb is played with the fingers. However, the Zarb is unique for its wide variety of unusual techniques and strokes. It is said to have as many sounds as the piano, and some Zarb compositions have even been transcribed for piano.

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