BabaYagaMusic.com » Encyclopedic Dictionary » Music Index »

Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Music Rhythms: Diagrams and Performance Aids

Rhythm, in the context of a culture that favors monophonic (no harmony) music, is rarely a series of beats marching along in a straight line. The rhythm shapes the music with a distinct 'swing' which is often as prominent as the melody, and which sometimes changes phrase-by-phrase.

Keep up with a FREE subscription to the BABA YAGA newsletter.
Ruric-Amari drum solo photo by T Werre
Dancer: Ruric-Amari. Drummer: Babacar Sy. Costume: Maura Enright. Photo: T Werre.

What's the Big Deal? Why study Rhythms?

For the musician: Rhythm is more than keeping a beat; this kind of dance music relies heavily on the interaction between rhythm and melody. Timbre, strength and tone help the rhythm talk to the dancer and the audience. Complexity will depend on the musician's skill. Many folks start out learning two sounds: Dum and Tek (D and T). The gradations of sound and tone come with practice and interest.

For the dancer: Kirk Templeton warns that dancers must LISTEN and KNOW THE RHYTHMS. "One of the most frustrating experiences a drummer can have is to lay down all sorts of cool riffs for the dancer to follow, only to realize that her conception of a drum solo is that it's the part of the song where she does the same step over and over again, only real fast."

Middle Eastern Rhythm Families

David Parfitt: The rhythmic modes of Arab music are known as iqa'at (singular iqa'), or sometimes as awzan (singular wazn). They consist of regularly repeating sequences of beats, with each beat represented by one of two different types of drum stroke: the dum stroke is produced at the centre of the drum and the tak stroke at its edge.

Mary Ellen Donald: The Middle East is essentially divided into three cultures: Arabic, Turkish, and Persian. There are a lot of similarities in those three cultures, though the languages are different. They all have quarter tones in their music, tones that come between the half-steps in our western scales... We don't have them in our music scale. But all three Middle Eastern cultures do. In my specialty, Arabic music, there are three further subdivisions corresponding to geographic regions.

  1. North Africa: Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Libya. There, 6/8 rhythms and 3/4 rhythms are dominant. They have some short 2/4 rhythms, but they emphasize 6 and 3. Then they overlay those two and a very exciting poly rhythmical texture comes out of that.
  2. The Arabian peninsula, or as we know it now, the Persian Gulf. The rhythm from that area has an almost Latin sound to it. It has a 3/3/2 pattern. They call that music khaligi. It is sometimes very fast, very lively music, and it is typical of the Gulf area.
  3. Egypt/Levant. Levant refers to several countries: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine. Egypt shares that same music.

Mark Bell: An Egyptian or Lebanese drummer usually has to approximate the way an Iraqi or Khaliji rhythm is played because the rhythms in southern Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula countries are polyrhythmic: to play a rhythm, the different beats are played by different drums to get a layered effect. Also these bands have large drum sections, including some drums unfamiliar to the typical drummer trained in an Egyptian or Levantine way.


Rhythm Diagrams and Sound Files

Mid-Eastern rhythm is commonly notated in the US in American Creole rhythm notation, a tool developed in the late 20th century that allowed American drummers all over the country to communicate with each other. This notation is used in the tables below. The first line in each set of diagrams represents what Scott Marcus terms "Skeletal Structures," the sounds that define that rhythm.

"Middle Eastern music... has neither harmony nor poly rhythm. The skill of the player is judged by how well he or she plays the piece in its essence (how it fits the basic rhythm, in the case of percussion) and how the piece is varied through the use of dynamic, syncopation, accent, and rhythmic variation... it is important not to detract from the basic nature of the piece or vary too far from how it is traditionally played. In particular, varied fills and rhythmic bridges are often used to cue rhythm changes or changes of phrase in a song. Many songs have places where variation is particularly appropriate and places where it isn't. It is not easy to list the rules. Instead: listen to the music, find the basic theme, and observe how and when experienced musicians vary it."— Jas

"In practice, it's difficult to find a definitive list of Arabic rhythms that all textbooks agree on, or a definitive reference on which rhythms are strictly Arabic since there's often an overlap with Turkish, Greek and Persian rhythms."— Maqam World.

2/4 RHYTHM

DIAGRAMS and SOUND FILES

AYOUB *

Ayub, Ayyub, Ayub

Egyptian and Lebanese.

Heavy rhythm, popular in modern Lebanese music.

Slower tempo for Zaar rituals and folk dance.

Faster tempo for beginning and end of dance shows.

Δ       Δ    
Δ       Δ   Δ
Δ . . Δ Δ . Δ .

1 e & a 2 e & a
D . . . D . T .
D . . k D . T .
D . . k D . k .
D . t . D . t .
D . k . t . k .
D . k k D . t .
D k t k D . S .

The rhythm is energetic and driving. Even the simple unsyncopated versions (#2 and 3) have the same forward drive.
Jas notes that sometimes a simple un-syncopated D k t k will be used.

This rhythm is sometimes called Zar, but the Zar is a trance ceremony that may incorporate many different rhythms, not just this one.

BAYOUK

Bayou

Ayub with two dums in the middle. Sometimes fast as a drum solo. Complements Ayoob and Kartachi.

Δ     Δ Δ    
Δ     Δ Δ   Δ
Δ . . Δ Δ . Δ

1 e & a 2 e & a
D . . D D . T .
D . k D D . S .

FELLAHI *

Felahi, Fallahi, Falaahii

Egyptian

Speedier variation of the Maqsum, has a 2/4 feel, good for hip lifts and shimmy walks.

Marked by some as 4/4.

An earthy rhythm done with big, flat-footed movements. Perfect when balancing jugs on your head.

Δ       Δ      
Δ Δ   Δ Δ   Δ  
Δ Δ . Δ Δ . Δ .

1 e & a 2 e & a
D t . t D . t .
D t . k D . t ~
D k . k D . t .
D k t k D k t ~

Guy Schalom video demonstration. He strongly recommends using the dominant hand to play the final Tak so that a roll with the non-dominant hand can follow smoothly. For the very filled-in example, he recommends alternating hands.

Reda Troupe perform a Fellahi dance.

Salah Said, full-tilt boogie.

HAJA

Iraq

Δ              
Δ       Δ   Δ  
Δ . . . Δ . Δ .

1 e & a 2 e & a
D . . . T . T .

  • Sajida Obaid Youtube of singing and dancing featuring Haha rhythm.
  • Sadoun Al Bayati Youtube, singing and drumming, Haja drum starts at 2:10.

HOROS

The most common rhythm in Bulgaria is 2/4. This is used for many Horos (dances).

A 2/4 melody may overlay a 6/8 beat.

KARACHI *

Karatchi, Karaatshi

Egyptian

Upside-down ayyub. Complements Ayyub and Bayouk.

            Δ  
Δ       Δ   Δ  
Δ . . Δ Δ . Δ .

1 e & a 2 e & a
T . . . T . D .
T . . k T . D .
T k t k T . D .

KHALEEGEE *

Sa'udii, Saudi, Khaleegy, Khaligi, Khaliji, Wosta

Arabian Gulf

Δ     Δ        
Δ     Δ     Δ  
Δ . . Δ . . Δ .

1 e & a 2 e & a
D . . D . . T .
D . . D . . T T
D D . D D . T .
D . k D . k T k
D . k T . k T k
D k k D k k T k
D k k T k k S k

Count it 123-123-12.

  • Khaleeji rhythm with a good strong 3+3+2 beat.
  • There are many variations. Mark Bell, again: "There are not many people here who know the rhythms from the Gulf and are willing to teach them. Part of it is the reluctance to put them into a form for one drum, since you really need the parts thing happening."

MALFUF *

Malfuuf, Malfouf, Wihda Kabira, Baruel, Laff, Wrapping
  • Egyptian
  • A rolling entry and exit rhythm, good for triple steps: Dtt.
  • Sometimes marked in 4/4 time.
Δ              
Δ     Δ     Δ  
Δ . . Δ . . Δ .

1 e & a 2 e & a
D . . T . . T .
D . k T . k T .
D k k T k k T k
D k t K t k T k (Running Malfuf)
D k k S k k S k (Running Malfuf)

Perfect for a fast-paced entrance rhythm using light and quick movements. Count it 123-123-12.

K. L. Farkas plays 5 versions.

Ruben van Rompaey video.

Guy Schalom video.

Druminic video: breakdown starts two minutes into the video.

Sahal Said starts out fast.

VOX *

(Foks, Fox)
  • March time sometimes used in modern Egyptian compositions.
  • Jas and Guy Schalom suggest that it was inspired by Western music and named after the foxtrot.
  • May be thought of having an oom-pah rhythm, but if you POP the second beat that does not work well.
Δ       Δ      
Δ   Δ   Δ   Δ  
Δ . Δ . Δ . Δ .

1 e & a 2 e & a
D . T . D . T .
D . . . T . K .
D . P . D . P .

Guy Shalom demonstrates the Vox.

WADHA SAIRA


(Al-wahda as-sa'ira)
Wadha Saghira, Wahida Sayrah, Wahda Basita, Wihda Basita
1 e & a 2 e & a
D . . . T . . .
D . . . T . T .
D . D . T . T .
D . . . T T T T

Nott describes Wahida as a family of rhythms with one Doum at the beginning.


3/8 RHYTHM

DIAGRAMS and SOUND FILES

The difference between 3/8 and 3/4 is speed. 3/8 is faster because eighth notes are faster.

SAMAI SAGHIER

Saraband Saghier
1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a
D . . . T . . . T . . .
D . k . T . k . T . k .

Salah Said video.

3/4 RHYTHM

DIAGRAMS and SOUND FILES

TSAMIKOS

Tsamiko

Greek

3/4 or 6/8 with 3 counts to the measure.

Jas points out that the Greek national hymn goes to this rhythm.

The phrasing is often 2+ 1 with a swing of one, two and-three-and.

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a
D . . k T . k . T . k .
D . t k T . t . D . t .

VALS

Valz, Darij, Daraj, Darag

A waltz time as used in classical Arabic Music.

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a
D . . . . . . . T . . .
D . . . T . . . T . . .
D . k . T . k . T . k .
D . . k T . k . T . k .
T . t . k . . . T . . .
T . . . D . . . D . . .

Guy Shalom demonstrates the VALS.

DARIJ 3/4 videos from DubSahara.

Salah Said video.

WHIRLING DERVISH

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a
D . . . D . . . . . . .
D . t . D . . . . . . .
D . t k D . . . D . t k

Nine hypnotic minutes of two drums playing Whirling Dervish with fills.


4/4 RHYTHM

DIAGRAMS and SOUND FILES

ADANI

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
D . . . . . T . D . D . . . . .

BALADI *

Beledi, Baladii, Masmoudi Saghir, Masmoudi Sogheir, Masmoudi Soheyir, Masmodi Saghir, Masmoudi Saghir, Little Masmoudi, Small Masmoudi
  • Egyptian
  • Earthy and ideal for steps and hip drops.
  • Sometimes referred to as Maqsum by non USA musicians.
1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
D . D . . . T . D . . . T . . .
D . D . t k T . D . t k T . t k
D . D . k . T . D . k . T . t k
D k D . t k t k D . t k T . t k

The term "Baladi" is a Western re-purposing of an existing Egyptian term. Americans use it to designate one particular rhythm: DD TD T. Egyptians do not. Carmine, writing in 2006 on Tribe.net: "I've played Maqsum for Egyptians and they said, 'That is Baladi!' and played what we call Baladi, and they've said, 'That's Baladi too!' and when I played Saidi... well 'That's definitely Baladi!'...Most of us don't use the Saghir or Kabir. I've only heard Arabic people who teach use this terminology... Most other teachers (especially American) will not."

Morocco, writing in a 2014 FB discussion about the Baladi word, agreed with Carmine: "ANY/all 'village' rhythms are called both Baladi & Shaabi. Baladi/ beledi = of the country, shaabi = of the people.

Jas: "Beledi means different rhythms depending on where you are. Beledi really implies a sort of gypsy-ness or non-urbaness (possibly 'hick', depending on who you ask). This version, more correctly called Masmoudi Saghir (Small Masmoudi) is perhaps the most common Beledi rhythm. If you look closely you will see that it is really a Masmoudi squeezed into 4/4 time."

According to Aleta, "Baladi is not a rhythm in the Middle East. The rhythmic pattern we call baladi is a form of maqsum. It is called the Little Masmoudi because it resembles a Two-Doum Masmoudi in half-time."

BAMBI

  • Egyptian
  • Similar to but faster than wahda kabira (ciftelli)
1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
D . D . D . k T . k T . K T . K
D . T k . k T . T k . k D . D .
D . K T . K T . K T . K D . D .

BOLERO *

  • Arabic

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
D . . . T . . . T . . . D . . .
D . R . T . k . T . k . T . k .
D . . k T . k . T . k . D . . .

One often sees the term Rhumba/Bolero (or Bolero/Rumba) used as though the names were interchangeable. Jas says: "Rumba and Bolero are similar rhythms with different accents. Bolero is often played with a triplet in the second half of the first beat. A triplet is 3 beats fit into a 2 beat space. Both rhythms have made there way from North Africa through Spain and Cuba into modern music."

Ghawazee *

Guwazi, Gawazee

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
D . . . D . D . . . . . T . . .
D . t k D . D . t k t . T . . .
D . t k D . D . t k t . T k t k
D k t k D k D k t k t k T k T k

JERK *

Jaark, Sherk

Fast Nubian rhythm used in Egyptian pop songs.


1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
D . . . T . . . D D . . T . . .
D . D . T . . k D D . k T . . .
D . k k T . t k D D t k T . t k
t . D . t k t . D . t k t . t k

MAQSUM *

(Maqsoum, Maksoum, Maksoom, Wihda Saghira)
  • Egyptian
  • Inspires lively stepping. A basic baladi rhythm.
  • Fast pace. Good entrance rhythm.
  • Probably the most common rhythm encountered by American musicians.
  • Scott Marcus: AKA Duyak, after its Turkish name Duyek. At a fast tempo, AKA Fallahi or Bamb

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
D . T . . . T . D . . . T . . .
D . . . T . . . T . D . T . . .
D . T . t k T . D . t k T . t k
D . S . t k S . D . t k S . t k

MAQSUM, Walking


1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
D . T . k . T . D . k . T . t k
D . k . t . k . D . k . t . . .
D . k . t . k . D . k . t . t k

Guy Schalom: "You learn maqsoum as DT-TD-T- But tabla players don't play it that way. They fill in the gaps thus: DTKTDKTtk. This gives the music a strong feeling of forward motion, hence the 'walking maqsoum.'

NAWARI *

(Dabke)
  • Lebanese
  • Folkloric rhythm used in line dances.
1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
T . D . . . T . D . . . T . . .
T . D . t k T . D . t k t . t k
S . D . t k S . D . t k S . t k

RHUMBA *

Rumba,
  • Arabic

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
D . . . . . . . T . . . D . . .
D . t t T . t . T . . . D . t .
D . t . t . D . D . t . t . t .
D . t k t . K . T . K . D . k .
D k t k t k D . D k t k t k D .

SAI'IDI *

(Saidi, Saiidi, Saidii, Saadi, Sahidi, Ghawazee)
  • Upside down beledi, medium pace.
  • Strong dums make it a good choice for cane dances with a forward-back motion.
.
1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
D . T . . . D . D . . . T . . .
. . T . . . D . D . . . T . . .
D . S . . . D . D . . . S . . .
T . T . t k D . D . . . T . . .
D . T . D . D . D . . . T . . .
T k D . t k D . D . t k T . t k
D . t k . k D . D . . . t k t .
D k S . k k D D D . t k S . t k

Jas published the last two diagrams, which replace the initial common Tek with a softer off-beat ka-tek.

Jas: Traditionally used for the Tahtib and cane dance. Occasionally referred to as Ghawazee since it was popular among the Egyptian Ghawazee.

SOMBATI

  • Egyptian
  • Described as the Egyptian version of a 4/4 Chiftitelli, used during taqsim or vocal accompaniment.
  • Has one doum in the second half

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
D . . T . . T . D . . . T . . .
D . k T . k T . D . D k T . . .
D . k T . k T . D . k k T . k k
D . t k T . K . D . . . T . . .
  • Guy Schalom demonstrates 8/4 Wahda Kebira (with rolls) and 4/4 Sombati, and describes Cifteteli as the Greek/Turkish version of both.
  • Salah Said does a short clear version.

SYRTO

(Syrtos, Serto, Ballos)
  • Greek
  • Line dances with a leader: mostly a 4/4 meter in various forms

Jas: Serto is a Greek rhythm. It alternates accent on every other measure.

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 . 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
D . k D . k T . D . k T . k T .
D . k D . k T k D . k T . k T k

WAHDED TAWILA

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
D . . . . . T . . . . . T . . .
D . t k t k T . t k t k T . . .

ZAFFA *

(Zeffa, El-Zaffa)
  • Egyptian
  • Traditional march for a wedding procession. Not upbeat enough for a candelabra dance.
1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a
D . t k t . t . D . t . T . .
D . D . D . t . t k t k t . t . .
D . T . . . T . T . . . D . . .
D . t k t . t . D . t . ~ ~ ~ ~
D . D . D . t . t k t k t . t .
D t t . t . t . D . t . t . . .

Short clear rhythm video by Nájua.

Short clear rhythm video by Salah Said.


5/8 RHYTHM

DIAGRAMS and SOUND FILES

A'RAG

Aqsaq Turki, Turkish Limping, Usul Aghar Aqsaq, Araj
  • 2 -2 -1
  • Most common in classical music and dance
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 &
D . . . T . . . T .
D . . . D . . . t k

6/4 RHYTHM

DIAGRAMS and SOUND FILES

CHOBIE

Persian line dance
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 &
D D D T D k . T D k . T

YURUK SAMAI

Samai Daarij, York Samai, Yurk Samai, Yuruuk Sammaa'ii
Samaa ii darij, darj, Darji, Al-Darij, Al-Ta'er
Has a triplet feel to it: 1-2-3 4-5-6, with a Dom at the beginning of each part of three. Usually.

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 &
D . D . T . D . T . . .
D . T . T . D . T . . .
D . . . T . D . T . . .

Salah Said:


6/8 RHYTHM

DIAGRAMS and SOUND FILES

Maghrebi

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 &
T . . . . . T . D . . .
T . k . k . T . D . . .

Moroccan 6

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a 5 e & a 6 e & a
D . k . k . T . k . k . D . k . S . k . S . k .
T . k t D k T . k t D k T . k t D k T . k t D k
T . t k D k T . T . t k D k T . T . t k D k T .

Note the accents on the two groups of three beats and the last three groups of two beats.

D . . T . . D . T . T .

1 & 2 & 3 . 1 & 2 & 3 . 1 & 2 . 1 . 2 . 1 . 2 .
D . k . k . T . k . k . D . k . T . k . T . k .

Saraband Kabir

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a 5 e & a 6 e & a .
D . . . t . . . t . . . t . . . t . . . t . . . .
D . k . t . k . t . k . t . . r t . k . t . k . .

Salah Said video.

Zebula

AKA Darig
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 &
D . k . t . K . t . k .

7/8 RHYTHM

DIAGRAMS and SOUND FILES

HOROS

  • Lots of 3-2-2 (Oranges-Grape-Fruit)
  • Sometimes 2-2-3 (Grape-Fruit-Oranges)
  • Sometimes 3-2-2 (Oranges-Grape-Fruit)
 

DAWR INDI

ad-dawr al-hindi (Arabic), Devr-i Hindi (Turkish)
3-2-2 or 2-2-3
1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a 5 e & a 6 e & a 7 e & a
D . . . T . . . T . . . D . . . . . . . T . . . . . . .
D . . . T . . . T . . . D . . . . . . . D . . . T . . .
D . . . T . k . T . . . D . . . t . k . T . . . t . k .
D . . . T . . . D . . . T . . . D . . . D . . . T . . .

KALAMATIANOS

  • Greek
  • Circle dance in 7/8 time li>Slow 3, quick 2, quick 2 rhythm which is repeated twice per phrase.
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 &
D . . . . . T . . . T . . .
D . t . t . D . t . D . t .
D . t k t . D . t k T . t .

LAZ

(Lazz)
Greece
Count this 2 + 2 + 3.

Dubsahara.com: In Greece and Turkey the 223s are generally known as "laz" or "laz bar" and the 322s as "kalamantiano" (Kalamata is a port in south Greece).


1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 &
D . . . D . . . T . . . . .
D . k . D . k . T . k . t .
D . k . T . k . D . k . t .

Candy Eaton Video.


8/4 RHYTHM

DIAGRAMS and SOUND FILES

CHIFTELLI *

(Ciftetelli, Chiftitelli, Tsiftetelli,Shiftaatellii, Ciftetelli, Wahda kabira, Wahada Kebira, Wahad e Noss, Dar e Noss, Sheftetilli)
  • Turkish and Greek
  • Fast (light) and Slow (heavy)
  • Also Greek word for Belly dance. So a Chiftelli (belly dance) is not always to Chiftelli rhythm.
  • Veil work, grounded and circular movements.
1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a 5 e & a 6 e & a 7 e & a 8 e & a
D . . . . . T . . . . . T . . . D . . . D . . . T . . . . . . .
D . . . t . T . . . t . T . . . D . . . T . . . T . . . . . . .
D . . . k . T . . . k . T . . . D . . . D . . . T . k . t . k .
D . . . t . K . . . k . T . . . D . . . D . . r T . . . . . . .
D . t k t . T . t k D . T . . . D . t k D . . . T k t k t . . .

Jas: "Ciftetelli is usually played slowly and with a variety of fills. Remember when playing this rhythm that silence is a note!"

Morocco identifies Chiftetelli as heavy (slooow) or light (faster, brighter). "Tsiftetelli (Chiftetelli) is traditional now to Greece and Greek communities in other enclaves, but it was authentic in Turkey and the Ottoman Empire. Greeks living in Turkey and Asia Minor assimilated it there authentically... It is the Turkish name of a rhythm used in most Oriental dances till the 1970s, played very slowly for shows and much more brightly for the social version. Arabic speaking musicians call it either Wahada Kebira (Egypt), Wahad e Noss (Lebanon) or Dar e Noss (Syria and Iraq)"

Aleta Quinn: "An Egyptian drummer will instruct you to play ciftetelli in a certain way, recognizing several variations and guidelines for acceptable improvisation within those patterns. But if you are in Turkey, ciftetelli is played quite differently, and in fact there are two quite distinct ciftetellis (fast and slow). Moreover, Ciftetelli is the name of a region in Turkey and Tsiftetelli is one of the names of Raks Sharki in Greece."

  • Le Chiftetelli at BaladiPercussion.com
  • Mevlana with a couple of guys dancing to it doing Romany stomach throws. I enjoy it myself.
  • Mevlana with a host of clarinets and some unexpected piano chords.
  • Guy Schalom demonstrates 8/4 Wahda Kebira (with rolls) and 4/4 Sonmbati, and describes Cifteteli as the Greek/Turkish version of both.
  • Sahal Said plays what must be the Egyptian style, very filled in and less syncopated.
  • Cajondarbuka plays lots of clear, slow versions.

MASMOUDI *

(Masmoudi Kabir; Masmudi Kabir; Big Masmoudi when beginning with 2 doums.
3-Doum Masmoudi, Walking Masmoudi begins with 3 doums. )
  • Egyptian
  • Per Aleta: Common in Egypt but not Turkey. Particularly useful as a slow alternative to ciftetelli.
  • There are many ways of playing this rhythm.
  • Slow to medium rhythm. Leaving off any fill after the seventh beat really slows it down.

1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a 5 e & a 6 e & a 7 e & a 8 e & a
D . . . D . . . . . . . T . . . D . . . . . . . T . . . . . . .
D . . . D . . . t . k . T . k . D . . . t . t . T . . . t . . .
D . . . D . . . t k t k T . . . D . t k t k t . T k t k t . t k
D . . . D . . k t t t k T . . . D . t k t k t k T k t k t k . .
D . . . D . . . t . k . T . k . D . t k t k t . T k t k t . t k
D . t k D . t k t k t k T . t k D . t k D . t k T k t k t . t k
D . . . D . . . D . . . . . . . T . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

2-Doum and 3-Doum Masmoudi clearly demonstrated by an unnamed drummer... Posted by Salah Said.

Guy Schalom demonstrates 3-DUM Masmoudi Kebir and variations: Slap instead of Tek.

BaladiPercussion.com plays the 2-Dum version.

Lots of great variations, 2-and-3 Doum, clear and slow. Posted by Cajondarbuka.

Short and Clear video, posted by Salah Said.

Short, simple and clear video, posted by Salah Said but probably by Karim Nagi.

Short and clear 3-Dum Masmoudi by Salah Said.

3 Doum Masmoudi from Loops for Dancers Vol. 2 by Radio Laria.

WAHDA *

(Wadha kebira, Wahda el Kevira, Wahad kebir)
  • Egyptian version of 8/4 chiftetelli.
  • Sensual. Good for taqsim.
  • Some say Wahda (ONE) has one DOUM, Chiftetelli has two.
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &
D . k t . k t . D . D . T . . .
D . T K T K T . T K T K T . T K
  • Oum Kalthoum sings Enta Omry. The Egyptian dance piece known as Enta Omry is actually the first bits of a famous Oum Kalthoum song that sometimes went on for an hour. Here's a recording where an over-enthusiastic audience makes it necessary for the performance to restart.
  • Drummer and Dancer with some smooth moves demonstrate. Labeled Wahde U Nas.
  • Guy Schalom demonstrates 8/4 Wahda Kebira (with rolls) and 4/4 Sonbati, and describes Cifteteli as the Greek/Turkish version of both.

9/8 RHYTHM

DIAGRAMS and SOUND FILES

Turkish and Romany 9/8 rhythms are difficult for Occidental dancers and musicians because the measures are NOT evenly divided into 9 pieces. They are often (but not always) compounded of three pairs of 1-2 and then a 1-2-3 with its own special swing; listening to music is the only way to understand this rhythm. More detail on the 9/8 Rhythm page.
Aksak, (Turkish: limping) is an important rhythmic pattern in the music of the Middle East (particularly Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan) and of the Balkans. It is composed of combinations of unequal beats, such as 2 + 3, and their extensions, particularly 2 + 2 + 2 + 3. The concept also includes divisions of the eight-beat structure common in Western music into unequal subdivisions, such as 2 + 3 + 3.

Maura Enright, Additive Meters in East European and Mediterranean Music, BabaYagaMusic.com, Web.

Aksak, Encyclopedia Brittanica Online, Web.

AQSAQ SAMAI


1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 . 8 . 9
D . . . T . . . D . . . D . T . .

Aqsaq Afrangi (9x8) video.

TURKISH 9/8 *

(Karsilama, Kashlimah)
  • Greek and Turkish
  • Common in Turkish Oriental music.
  • Kasilama is the name of a Turkish folk dance, which is NOT a solo, but the name of the rhythm of the dance has passed into common usage here in the West. To keep things straight, do not dance a karsilama solo dance; dance a solo dance to the karsilma rhythm.
  • 12- 12- 12-1 23 or 1234- 12345

1 & 2 . 3 & 4 . 5 & 6 . 7 & 8 & 9 .
D . . . T . . . D . . . T . T . T .
D . t k T . t k D . . . T . K . T .
D . t k T . t k D . t k T . T . T k

Karsilama description

ROMANY 9 *

  • A 9/8, like the Karsilama, but with a silent last beat.
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 8 9
D . . . . . . . . . . . D . .
D . . . D . . . D . . . t t .
D . . . D . . . t k t k t t .
D . D . D . . . t . t k t T .

Romany 9 description

Videos:

  • Sophie Armoza video: first half, where she is dressed as a man, is a very clear demonstration of how the rest on the last beat is handled.
  • Reyhan on Turkish TV performing what is probably the most popular Roman Havasi (Roman 9/8) on the Internet.
  • Miram Perez dancing to Romany 9 music.
  • Jennet Shook.
  • Eva Cernik, a long-time famous advocate of Turkish and Turkish Romany style.

ZEYBEKIKO

Zeymbekiko, zeibekiko.
  • Greek folk dance with a rhythmic pattern of 9/8 or 9/4. 2-2-2-3.
  • Think of it as two measures of four with an extra beat added and walk to it until comfortable.
  • The origin of the dance may be a Turkish warrior's dance, Zeybek.
  • Zeibekiko, as danced by the Greeks, is a showcase for passionate improvisation and is usually performed by one person, usually a male.
  • Traditionally, applause was not sought nor commonly given, out of respect.
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 & 9 &
D . D t D . T . D . D t D . T . T . (old fashioned)
D t . t D . T . D t . t D . T . T .
D . t k D . t k D . t k D . T . T .
D . t t D . t . D . t t D . D . D .

Morocco: "The very first night I worked in a Mid eastern club (December 1960), two male customers, Greeks from Cyprus, did a Zembekiko, where they mimed a knife fight. I'd never seen anything like it. At first it scared me, because I thought they were drunk and crazy and about to have a real fight. I'll never forget them. After that I saw it danced many times, then it went out of style. Current Zembekikia are a pale shadow of what I saw then. I loved vari Zembekiko and Tsamiko (vari - heavy: slow, very dramatic and accented), but dramatic versions of Zembekiko, Tsamiko and Chift Telli have almost disappeared."


10/8 RHYTHM

DIAGRAMS and SOUND FILES

Jurjina

(Jurjuna, Curcuna, gurgina)

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 & 9 & 0 &
D . . . . . T . . . D . . . T . . . . .
D . . . T . T . . . D . . . T . . . . .
D . . . T . T . . . D . T . T . . . T .
  • Sometimes written as 10/16, can be heard as 5/8.
  • This an Armenian rhythm which has become popular in the Arab world. Note that in Egypt it is pronounced gurgina.
  • Emphasis on 1, 4, 6, 8 and sometimes 3. Folk rhythm from Iraq/ Iran. 1-2-3 1-2 1-2 1-2-3. (3 +2 +2 +3)
  • Atropon Ensemble play Basa Bela.
  • Jurjuna, Stelios Petrakis band.
  • Orhan Kilis band.
  • Tom Pixton plays Mombar.

SAMI'i THAQUIL *

(Samai Thakil, Heavy Samai. Semai Ath Thaquil)

Used in classical music throughout the Middle East


1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 & 9 & 0 &
D . . . . . . . . . D . D . . . . . . .
D . . . . . T . . . D . D . T . . . . t
D . t k t k T . t k D . D . T . t k t k

Probably Karim Nagi although posted by Salah Said. Short and clear.

Short and clear, posted by Salah Said.

Improvisation between oud and riqq.

National Arab Orchestra plays Jameel Bey Tanburi.

Oud Geek Youtube on How to Count to Ten.

Aksak Semai rhythm by Eastern Expressions on Youtube. Minimum fills. D . . T . D D T . .

Aksak Semai Rhythm on Youtube with lots of fills.

Aksak Semai, very lyrical.

Sama'i Bayyati al-Thaquil by UCLA Near East Ensemble.

Samai Bayati by Abdel Karim.

Lamma Bada Yatathenna

* Mentioned as an essential rhythm in a DEC 2014 thread in the Biz of Belly dance FB group.

REFERENCES

Mark Bell is a noted percussionist and workshop instructor based in California. The quote comes from a Facebook post by him in DEC 2014.

Carmine:

Doumbek Delerium offers Choosing a Middle-Eastern Drum and Beginning Drumming,

Drumdojo explanation of common drum diagram symbols.

DubSahara.com, a Dubstep portal.

Dave Goodman.

Arabic Rhythms, MawamWorld.com. Web.

Maura Enright:

Jas:

Jasmin Jahal's amusing short description of baladi and saidi.

Frank Lazarro: Ten Top Darbuka Rhythms, video clip, Web.

Karim Nagi tambourine and drum instruction DVDs.

Maqam World Arabic Rhythms with diagrams and audio files.

Mary Ellen Donald:

Armando Malfufo, Uncle Malfufo's Basic Rhythms for Arabic Drum, CD, 2003.

Scott L Marcus, Music in Egypt

The Troupe at ThreeWinds.wordpress.com maintains a clear page of diagrams, but no sounds.

Morocco

Arab Iaq', Oud.Eclipse.co.uk, Web.

David Parfitt, Arab iqa', Oud.Eclipse.Co.Uk.

Aleta Quinn, A note on Raks Sharki with - or without - traditional rhythms, AletaDances.com. Web. 2008.

Geo Sawa, Egyptian Music Appreciation and Practice.

Guy Schalom:

Simon Shaheen, Simon Shaheen and Qantara Teacher Resource Guide, UMS.org, Web.

Keti Sharif, Belly dance.

Eric Smith, Quick and Dirty Guide to Doumbek Rhythms, Blackroot.org. Web.

Alex Spurkel's tutorial videos are worth looking up on YouTube.

Lily Splane, Zills on Fire.

Roxann publishes a brief but interesting Music and Rhythm from the Dancer's point of view.

Kirk Templeton, A Drummer's Advice to Beginning Dancers, GildedSerpent.com. Web.

Roots of Rhythm, Web.

Josephine Wise, The JWAAD Book of Bellydance, JWAAD LTD, 2012, Print


BabaYagaMusic.com
Maura Enright, Proprietor
Author:
©2012 - 2015 by Maura Enright
© means the content is copyrighted. Your links to this content are much appreciated.
maura@babayagamusic.com