Arabian in origin, the dumbek is commonly found in Turkey, the Balkan countries, and North Africa. The Dumbek is a drum with a goblet or chalice-like shape. Also known as the Dombak, Doumbek, Darabuka, and Darbukka it is commonly associated with Middle Eastern music, often as the lead voice of percussion. The name is an approximation of the two basic sounds the drum makes: "Dum" (the bass tone) and "Bek" (the high-pitched crack from the edge of the drum). There is actually a great deal of variety available in the sound.
The body of the Dumbek is made of nickel, ceramic, or compressed aluminum. The head may be fish-skin, goat-skin or plastic. The model many professionals use, is compressed aluminum with a plastic head, and can be tuned. The Dumbek is typically about 18" high with a head of 10" in diameter.
The silver-colored dumbek (above, right) is the lightest in weight of the three drums pictured here. It has a clear plastic film head and can be tuned with an allen wrench around the top. The dumbek below it is made of brass and has some beautiful engraving, as you can see. The head is synthetic fiber and can also be tuned with the use of an allen wrench. The third Dumbek is made of clay and has a dark blue glaze. It has a natural skin head that is glued on and laced with rope to keep it tight. It provides the best tone of the three but cannot be tuned except perhaps by heating it with a heating pad.
Dumbek players to listen to are Hossam Ramzy, Reda Darwish and Susu Pampanin.
Hear the Dumbek on 'Botswana Waltz' from 'bamboo dynasty' .