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date: 21 August 2019


  • Christian Poché


Circular frame drum (see Drum §I 2., (vi)), found throughout the Arab world except in Lebanon ( Daff, Riqq) and Syria (daff, Mazhar, riqq). It varies in diameter from 12 cm (Morocco) to 70 cm (Bahrain). Successive migrations have brought the instrument to the borders of the Indian Ocean, to Kenya (matari), Uganda (matali), Zanzibar (tari, the name of both a dance and the instrument), to the Comoros (tari), to the Maldives (thaara, name of the instrument and a semi-religious festival) and to Malaysia (tar).

The term derives from the Soqotri (southern Arabic), meaning ‘frame drum’ and ‘round object’. The roundness applies to all the models described in the field except for the Maldivian thaara (circular or octagonal); so this, unlike the duff (where anarchy reigns over the shape), shows the likelihood of a pre-Islamic split: angular shape in north Arabia, circular in the south, linking up with the round ...

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A. Lavignac and L. de La Laurencie, eds.: Encyclopédie de la musique et dictionnaire du Conservatoire