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Handmade Clay Darbukas

A Glimpse of Darbuka History

Percussion instruments were the first musical devices created. They were formed in different shapes and structures depending on the cultural background that they were created. Starting from pre-historic era, some similar forms of today’s darbuka were used in Anatolia, Mesopotamia and Middle East. In time darbuka took different names in different geographies like dumbek, doumbek, sombaty, dohola, tombek, dumbelek, tabla. The first forms of this percussion instrument were made of clay. Now in addition to ancient clay darbuka, aluminum darbuka, wooden darbuka and copper darbuka are also widely used.

How to Choose a Clay Darbuka?

Traditional clay darbuka (ceramic darbuka) has a deep natural sound as clay is used in the goblet shaped body and natural skin is used at the top of the instrument. Widely used skins in clay darbuka are fish, goat and cow. As the skin is natural, the skin head is sensitive to humidity. Clay darbuka players heat the skin head before the performance for tuning.

Fish skin topped clay darbuka has a high frequency sound with a great resonance. It is preferred by professional percussionists to perform on stage and for recording. 

Goat skin is widely preferred in Turkey, particularly in mid bass and doholla darbukas. Goat skin is strong and has good endurance in humidity. Goat skin topped clay darbuka has a good variety of high frequency and bass sounds.

Cow skin is very similar to goat skin in character and is a thick skin. This brings further endurance to cow skin topped clay darbukas.

There are 3 commonly accepted sizes of clay darbuka: solo darbuka, mid bass darbuka and bass darbuka (dohollo). 

Sonika Percussion clay darbukas are fully hand-made by Anatolian master craftsman in Turkey based on their traditional roots in this land. To get the best quality “kick” sound in clay darbukas, we tune the burning level of clay during the production stage to make sure our instruments are suitable for professionals’ choices.

For Sonika Percussion clay darbuka collection you can click here.