How should I hold the Darbuka while playing?
There are two common sitting positions when playing the Darbuka. Depending on how you will sit when playing, there will be a slightly different technique to hold the Darbuka securely. If you're on a new journey in learning how to play the Darbuka, make sure to check out our post on how to start learning to play.
Position 1: Sitting on a chair
Sit down on a chair with both of your feet flat on the floor in front of you. The Darbuka should sit on your non-dominant thigh with the open-ended side pointing behind you and the skin covered side pointing in front of you at a 45o angle.
You should then adjust your dominant leg so that the bottom part of the Darbuka rim is supported by the inner thigh of your dominant leg to hold the drum in place. You should be able to let the Darbuka rest without needing your hands to stop it from falling over. As such, your dominant foot might be slightly raised, whereas your non-dominant foot should be flat on the ground.
You should then lightly hug the body of the Darbuka with your non-dominant arm to keep it steady while playing. Your non-dominant elbow should keep the Darbuka tight against your side, and your non-dominant palm should rest on the top of the Darbuka rim, without touching the skin.
Remember that anything that touches the skin will affect the resultant sound. If your non-dominant hand is resting on the plastic skin itself, the sound won’t resonate properly.
Note: If unsure, your dominant hand is typically the hand you write with.
Holding the Darbuka sat on a chair (front)
Holding the Darbuka sat on a chair (side)
Position 2: Sitting on the floor
Sit down on the floor in a cross-legged position. The Darbuka should sit on your non-dominant thigh with the open-ended side pointing behind you and the skin covered side (the Darbuka’s head) pointing in front of you at a 45o angle.
You should then lightly hug the body of the Darbuka with your non-dominant elbow to keep it steady while playing. Your non-dominant palm should rest on the top of the Darbuka rim.
The Darbuka may fall inwards into the space between your crossed legs. This position is okay, as long as it doesn’t render the drum unplayable. If it is falling too far inwards, you might need to bring the Darbuka back a little, so that it resting closer to your non-dominant thigh.
Holding the Darbuka sat on the floor
Playing while standing
The only exception we've seen from the above methods is a performance technique of playing the Darbuka while standing. Playing while standing is common if performing in an environment which requires you to move around, or perhaps if you were accompanying a dance or march. While it is possible to use a drum strap to secure the Darbuka to your shoulder while you play, we would not recommend doing this until you are at least an intermediate player with strong foundations. You will have to dynamically adapt your playing style with the drum’s movement, which will be tough for a beginner. My advice would be to learn and practice while sitting on a chair or the floor. This will allow you to build your foundations in a strong position and help you progress through your Darbuka studies. Once you’re confident and secured in your basics, grab a drum strap and give playing while standing a shot!
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