The goblet drum (also chalice drum) is a goblet shaped Hand drum used mostly in Arabic, Jewish, Assyrian, Persian, Balkan, Greek, Armenian, Azeri and Turkish music. Its thin, responsive Drumhead and Resonance help it produce a distinctively crisp sound. It is of ancient origin, and is believed by some to have been invented before the chair.
Goblet drum 01

Custom simbati from Egypt


Goblet drums have many names, according to location.

  • General - darbakeh, tarabuka (دربكة), tablah, tableh (طبلة)
  • Afghanistan - zairbaghali (Dari)
  • Albania - qypi
  • Armenia - doumbek, doumbeg
  • Assyria - dombuk, derbakeh
  • Azerbaijan - dumbul, dunbul
  • Balkans - tarambuke
  • Bukhori - tarbouka
  • Greece - toumberleki, toumpeleki
  • Hungary - dobouk
  • Iran - tombak, Tonbak (تُمبَک ,تنبک ,دمبک ,دنبک ,تمبک) or zarb (ضَرب or ضَرب)
  • Israel - darbuka
  • Kurdistan - tepill
  • Lebanon - derbakeh
  • Palestine - durbakeh, derbakeh
  • Romania - darabana, tarabuka
  • Syria - derbakeh
  • Turkey - darbuka, dumbelek
  • Thailand, Laos - klong (or glong) yao (กลองยาว), thon (โทน), glong thap (กลองทับ)
  • West Africa - djembe
  • Yugoslavia - darbuk


Goblet drums are played with a much lighter touch and quite different strokes (sometimes including rolls or quick rhythms articulated with the fingertips) than hand drums such as the Djembe, found in Africa.

There are two main types of goblet drums. The Egyptian style has rounded edges around the head, whereas the Turkish style exposes the edge of the head. The exposed edge allows closer access to the head so finger-snapping techniques can be done, but the hard edge discourages the rapid rolls possible with the Egyptian style.

The goblet drum may be played while held under one arm or by placing it between the knees while seated. It produces a resonant, low-sustain sound while played lightly with the fingertips and palm. Some players move their fists in and out of the bell to alter the tone. There are a variety of rhythms (see Dumbek rhythms) that form the basis of the folkloric and modern music and dance styles of the Middle East.

There are two main sounds produced by the goblet drum. The first is called the 'doum'. It is the deeper bass sound produced by striking the head near the center with the length of the fingers and palm. The second is called the 'tek' and is the higher-pitched sound produced by hitting near the edge of the head with the fingertips. A 'tek' struck with the secondary hand is also known as a 'ka'. Additionally, there are more complex techniques including snaps, slaps, pops and rolls that are used to ornament the basic rhythm. Hand clapping and hitting the sides of the drum can be used in addition to drumhead sounds.

Another technique commonly used in Bulgaria (see Music of Bulgaria), Turkey (see:Music of Turkey), and Egypt (see Music of Egypt), and is to tap with the fingers of one hand and with a thin stick in the other. In Turkey the stick is called the çubuk, which means wand, or stick. The Gypsies of most of the countries associated with the goblet drum use this technique.

Use in Western classical musicRectify

The first known Western classical composition to feature a goblet drum is the opera Les Troyens (1856-1858) by the French composer Hector Berlioz, which calls in the Dance of the Nubian Slaves in Act IV for a tarbuka.

The first compositions for goblet drum and orchestra were composed by Halim El-Dabh in the 1950s; his Fantasia-Tahmeel was premiered in New York City in 1958, with a string orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski.

Notable goblet drum playersRectify

  • Burhan Öçal - Turkish player fusing Roma-Balkan music with jazz, Turkish classical music, and even Electronic music.
  • Mısırlı Ahmet - Turkish Darbuka player (studied in Egypt and fused Turkish and Arabic technique); "Split-finger" playing technique. In Turkish, Mısırlı means "the Egyptian". In Egypt he is called "Ahmet the Turk".
  • Ovidiu Lipan - Romanian player, drummer of the band Transsylvania Phoenix
  • Halim El-Dabh - Egyptian-born ethnomusicologist
  • Hani Naser
  • Hossam Ramzy - Egyptian-born traditional and jazz drummer.
  • Setrak Sarkissian - Armenian Lebanese-born player featured on some of the "classic" bellydance recordings from the 1970s; simplistic technique.
  • Hossein Tehrani - Persian Tonbak player
  • Pejman Hadadi - L.A. Based Persian Tombak player;
  • Elitsa Todorova - Bulgarian female folklore musician.
  • Stoyan Yankoulov - Bulgarian percussionist.

External links Rectify