Tonbak Information

The tonbak or zarb is a goblet drum from Persia . It is considered the principal percussion instrument of Persian music. The tonbak is normally positioned diagonally across the torso while the player uses one or more fingers and/or the palm of the hand on the drumhead, often near the drumhead's edge. Sometimes tonbak players wear metal finger rings for an extra-percussive "click" on the drum's shell. Tonbak virtuosi perform solos lasting ten minutes or more.

The Tonbak is a single-headed goblet drum about 43 cm in height with a 28 cm diameter head. Its shell is carved from a single block of wood, maybe with a carved design or geometric pattern . At the bottom the shell is somewhat thicker than at the top for strength . The shell's wall thickness is approximately 2 cm. The throat is nearly cylindrical and connects the top cavity to the hollow base .

A sheepskin or goatskin head is stretched and secured with glue, tacks or both. The fairly wide top opening permits full bass tone as well as various treble tones . Tonbaks with adjustable tuning have been produced experimentally but the head tension is normally fixed prior to performance with careful attention to the temperature and humidity. The player may heat or cool or dampen or dry the membrane to reach a desired fundamental pitch. The pitch can be raised somewhat during a performance by applying finger pressure but a variety of tapping and clicking timbres reduce overall focus on the drum's pitch. Typically, two or three clearly contrasting timbres are played in an antiphonal style.

Wikipedia, Tonbak, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonbak (as of Apr 8, 2011)

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