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If you are unable to find a teacher then the next best thing is to buy some tuitional material and teach yourself. There are now many items available and I list many of the available DVD's / Books / CDs / Apps / Other etc where you can find detailed description about the contents. I have seen the majority of the items I list and I would say that all of them have something to offer.

To answer the question I am asked many times - " which are the best instructional DVD's out there ?" I will list right now the best two in my opinion for Beginners and for Advanced / Drumming For Dancers:

( N.B - I do not have these DVD's for sale but I have a few tuitional items VIDEO / DVD / CD / BOOKS ETC. for sale, scroll down to see them )

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    I have chosen to highlight this particular learning resource as I believe it is the best educational tool currently available on the market for a serious, detailed and well presented explanation of Middle Eastern percussion. To qualify my judgement of this product I would like to explain that I am a predominantly self-taught player who has taken expert instruction from some of the world’s best players of Middle Eastern percussion. I started around 20 years ago with one video and a couple of rhythm identification CDs, since then the market has become flooded with dozens of DVD’s, CD’s books and many Internet resources. Most of these products have something really useful to learn about Middle Eastern percussion and of course there are many different interpretations of the rhythms according to regional difference and the personal interpretation of the individual player. What I like so much about this product is that it covers all the areas I believe are fundamental to understanding and playing correctly the Darabuka. This DVD is excellent value for money – you get over 2 hours drum instruction and performance, combined with that, almost 50 pages of supplementary information in the form of a downloadable PDF document. The production quality of the video shoot is of a high standard with useful on screen notation and the instructor, Faisal, is clear and concise. The accompanying eBook gives essential information about concepts in Middle Eastern music which are very important for the serious student to understand such as Mizan, Wazan, Maqam, Taqsim, Muwashahaat, Tarab etc. as well as presenting a very clear introduction to notation of the rhythms. There is a very well balanced explanation of the different styles of playing technique and how each is suited to the different styles of music to be found across the Middle East, North Africa, Gulf and Turkey. This acknowledgement of all the variations in drums, rhythms, names, playing styles, techniques etc. is one of the very strong aspects of this package; it encompasses all the different interpretations with clear explanation. A good example is the explanation of why the term Ka is used in the West but not so in the countries of origin, Faisal and David clearly understand the market this package is aimed at and they do an excellent job in unravelling all the inconsistencies and contradictions which can be found when learning this style of drumming. The primary and secondary sounds played on the Darabuka are also fully covered with clear explanation and demonstration and examples are given of how to incorporate these sounds and techniques into the commonly heard rhythms like Maqsoum, Malfuf and Masmoudi. Separation of senses is not often addressed in tuition DVD’s and again the explanation is clear with many dazzling examples. Approximately 30 rhythms are then played by Faisal from across the Arabic world with various embellishments and variations, the accompanying eBook gives notation for the basic forms and some filled versions, there is also a good explanation of the “family” of rhythms and how and where they are usually played. Some good coordination exercises are given to help execute some of the concepts previously demonstrated. Next up is a fantastic look at solo ideas for working with bellydancers, this is a topic not often covered and here Faisal presents 14 commonly heard phrases with accompanying notation in the eBook, the phrase is played at normal speed and then the film is slowed down so you can make sense of what is happening. A nice explanation of how the relationship between dancer and drummer works, is also given in the eBook. Now David joins in playing Katem whilst Faisal demonstrates all the phrases against the backing rhythm of David – a truly very clear, detailed and sublime explanation and demonstration all covered is such an economic way. Percussion only playing has been presented so far and now a demonstration of playing with melody is given with the expert playing of Samer Farah on Qanoon and Faisal accompanying on clay darabuka illustrating all the concepts of accompanying melody players as discussed in the eBook, they play two well known compositions – Dulab Kurd and Saba Samer. Finally for pure indulgence pleasure, there is a great jam between Faisal, Sait Arat and Emin Bolat in Emin’s shop with his signature drums. An excellent demonstration of how the best drummers work together giving each other solid backing whilst each takes it in turn to show off their virtuosity and improvisational skills. As well as all this there is the wonderful CD - MADAR featuring Faisal and Samer playing classic Arabic Instrumental music and improvisations, great for playing along to or pure listening pleasure. In conclusion I would say this is definitely not just a beginners DVD, it starts at the beginning but swiftly moves on to introduce more advanced concepts. It is perfect for the serious student who really wants to achieve on the Darabuka. It may be a little overwhelming for the beginner who is looking for a slow and gentle introduction but there are plenty of DVD’s out there which cover this. The contextualisation of the darabuka in the Middle Eastern world as well as how it is developing in the West is perfectly balanced. Faisal is from the Levant region and consequently the style, interpretation and technique he uses are predominantly of this flavour but I really like the acknowledgement he gives to other styles and interpretation which is superbly illustrated in the final jam with the Turkish players. The only other DVD, which in my opinion, matches this DVD is the “La Darbouka – Introduction Tutor – Percussions of the Arabic World DVD” by Ali Alaoui which gives a very good introduction to Arabic percussion from the Maghrebi perspective with equally generous extras. David is to be congratulated on producing a very well balanced, informative, quality product and Faisal for his undeniably superb playing and most importantly a clear, concise and measured teaching style.

    The latest news is Faisal and David have followed up this great DVD with their next one -
    BELLY DANCE DRUM SOLOS: CONCEPTS FOR DANCERS AND DRUMMERS which I am sure will up to the same high standard and I will review as soon as possible.

    To see more about these DVDs and other available tuitional material:



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    Here we have the eagerly anticipated follow up to Faisal Zedan’s ARABIC PERCUSSION - DERBAKKI FUNDAMENTALS INSTRUCTIONAL DRUM DVD which I have reviewed earlier. There are a few DVD’s now on the market covering this particular area and I would again like to say that I judge this one to be the most clear, concise and thorough examination, demonstration and explanation of how to drum for dancers. To qualify my ability to pass judgement I would like to inform you that I have been playing darabuka for 20 years and have played solo for many dancers in many performance situations and I specialise in teaching drummers and dancers in the art of understanding how to begin working together. So let’s start an examination of the DVD. First thing to say is it is presented by Faisal and Mariyah a dancer from the States and this is naturally an essential aspect in terms of learning how to drum for dancers, you need to have an expert dancer who can help explain things from a dancers perspective and Mariyah excels in bringing this aspect to the DVD. There are many DVD’s on the market about Dancing To A Drum Solo from a dancers perspective and often they may include live drummers but very often the information is very limited for a student drummers perspective. In this DVD the information is certainly weighted more heavily to the drummer but there is an awful lot that a dancer will learn from a dance perspective and I would urge any dancer wondering if they should get this DVD to most definitely do so. Both drummer and dancer must learn about each other’s art to have any hope in being able to communicate with each other in a performance context. Learning the “language” of the drum will aid immeasurably to the dancer in helping them explain, in drummer language, what sort of thing they want to hear from the dancer when composing a routine together.

    The DVD starts with several titles explaining the video is intended as a presentation of demonstrations to watch or follow. Crucially it is stated the concepts presented are NOT broken down or taught in detail. This is a statement to get people to understand that the categorization of this DVD – Intermediate / Advanced is exactly what it means. There are a plethora of Beginners DVDs for dancers and drummers and what is needed now are more titles like this one taking the improving student to higher levels. So be advised but don’t be too scared either ! At any level you will benefit enormously from the information provided, just be aware you will need to have done quite a lot of previous work to be able to begin achieving what is covered here. You will get so many ideas, concepts, structure, feeling and spirit of drum solos to enrich your understanding and ideas for your own compositional ideas at whatever level you may be at.

    INTRODUCTION – now we get a personal introduction from the teachers covering most of what I have already said. There is also a sensible focus on explaining how to prepare in terms of staying relaxed and for dancers warm up exercises which Mariyah then proceeds to demonstrate to BEYATI TAKSIM from Faisal’s CD – MADAR. ( Go buy by the way – it’s excellent ) Faisal then takes the drummers through important aspects like stretching exercises, paying attention to posture and breathing.

    RHYTHMS: PLATFORMS FOR THE DANCE – A Drum Solo may include parts which just comprise of a basic rhythm with minimal fills but no riffs and they are presented by Faisal with demonstrations of some commonly used dance steps by Mariyah. We have the usual rhythms of Masmoudi Saghir, Maqsoum, Saiddi, Fallahi, Malfuf and Ayub and they have onscreen notation.

    THE BEAT, TEMPO and RHYTHM CHANGE - Here we have an explanation of the importance of the underlying beat, the tempo and changing from one rhythm to another. Faisal then gives the following examples – Maqsoum to Malfuf, Maqsoum to Fallahi, Masmoudi Saghir to Masmoudi Kebir, Masmoudi Kebir to Malfuf.

    PUTTING THE DRUM SOUNDS INTO MOVEMENT – Now there is more focus from a dancers perspective and Mariyah covers the basic concept of matching the dynamics of the drum sounds with appropriate moves in the body. Thankfully she reiterates the fact that it is not necessary or even desirable for a dancer to attempt to interpret every sound the drum produces. In my personal teaching experience I find this one of the biggest misconceptions and stumbling blocks dancers have and so it is excellent Mariyah states this point. She then goes on to demonstrate some moves to the basic tones of the drum i.e. Doums, Taks, Suk ( Slaps ) and Tuq ( muted and muted sliding Kas ) Next there is a demonstration of Faisal playing Drum Riffs with Mariyah interpreting them with dance examples. This is done by a basic rhythm being played and then a Riff repeated several times then back to the rhythm and the process repeated several times. So for example, Malfuf and then different riffs. Now you will notice there is NO ONSCREEN NOTATION OR BREAKDOWN OF THE RIFFS. You will realise you need to be quite advanced to work out these riffs but be aware some of them have been covered before in Faisal’s earlier DVD where they were slowed down and broken down with onscreen notation, but there are plenty of new ones here.

    STRUCTURE OF SOLOS – INTRO / PHRASES - A solo may begin with a rhythm but they may also start with rhythmic phrases. This is in my opinion a crucial basic concept – drum solos have phrases in them, which are repeated like a rhythm but are not rhythms. You want to amass or create as many as you can and mix and match with rhythm and riffs. Our teachers now proceed to give several phrases, which can be used as an opener or elsewhere in the solo. Some are repeated from Faisal’s previous DVD and there are new ones too. PHRASES OVER A RHYTHM – Next the basic concept of the rule of repeating a phrase so that a dancer may hear it the first time giving herself usually three more opportunities to hear it again which she can then embellish. Of course they could be only repeated twice, which is stated but a rule of four is preferable for drummer and dancers new to this concept. We are now joined by the DVD producer David on Frame Drum, to hold the rhythm whilst Faisal can then go off to play the phrases with a rhythmic backing. We have several Maqsoum followed by Malfuf version demonstrations. Malfuf No. 3 is fantastic and is going straight into my repertoire ! Mariyah is on hand for all versions to demonstrate many different interpretations. FREE or ARHYTHMIC PHRASES – Very often in the Solo is when the bass rhythm ( if you have backing accompaniment of course ) stops playing and the drummer and dancer move closer together and the drummer presents more “intimate” phraseology and riffs usually quite different from what has gone before. Lots of tremolos, shimmying, sliding taks, tempo reductions, rolls with accented slaps and so on. ENDINGS – In my opinion probably the most important aspect of the solo. Faisal talks a bit about either discussing this before a performance and how to communicate on stage whilst actually doing it and presenting an ending which is clear in it’s intention. Several examples follow.

    CHOREOGRAPHY – Now it is time to put this all together and a choreography is presented, in sections this time and each one is explained firstly by Mariyah from a dancers perspective with detailed instruction. Faisal is joined by David on Frame Drum and Jason Ramirez on Doholla and the example is presented several times with rhythmic accompaniment. A nice touch this saves you reaching for the rewind button too often. This continues through 17 sections ! – so yes you are getting value for money here, everything covered before is presented in this choreography.

    CHOREOGRAPHY PERFORMANCE – Finally we see the fruits of our learning and the whole choreography is performed in its entirety.

    IMPROVISATIONS - So we have been introduced to the structured pre-planned Drum Solo but of course they can be totally improvised. To demonstrate this Mariyah and Faisal give us several improvisations to sit back and enjoy.

    And that’s it – Phew !! The DVD clocks in at just under 2 hours and it is a great testament that David, Faisal and Mariyah have so succinctly packed in all you need to know about a Drum Solo for both drummers and dancers into such little time. However 2 hours of this quality instruction and presentation for the price is excellent value for your buck ( or whatever ) Yet again I have to say the teaching is clear, concise and very well informed and presented. Is there any criticism? Well no actually there is not, I have taught this topic for a long time and there was nothing at all I could think of to add or which could be presented better or clearer. It is important to remember that there is no rule book on this subject and it has evolved over a very long period of time and different people do it very differently but the fundamental concepts have been absolutely nailed by the producers and instructors. Faisal is extremely generous in offering a large array of phrases, riffs and combination but be aware there are hundreds more out there and many more to be invented too. If you were able to master everything shown in this DVD you would have a mighty arsenal of tools to work with but as the instructors say themselves, try to come up with your own formats and phraseology. Level ? Well yes this IS an Intermediate / Advanced DVD and don’t go in thinking it will be OK if you know a couple of rhythms and have been to a couple of weekend workshops. This is for those people who have put in a lot of work and are very familiar with a lot of rhythms, technique and have some grasp of combination work and phraseology. It is NOT broken down to an introductory level so make sure you get Faisal’s first DVD and work though that – it will give you all the skills and knowledge you need to undertake this one. Remember many of the phrases have been broken and slowed down with on-screen notation in the earlier DVD. I think Mariyahs input was very good and as I mentioned any serious dance student should get this DVD too to enhance their knowledge of the Drum Solo, which has more of a drummers slant and will help them understand our perspective. There was no real mention or discussion of who can lead who and how is that done but believe me that is best left for another time and is really not an easy subject to cover. This DVD is firmly presenting the dancer following what the drummer is playing and that is a very good solid platform to start with. Rhythmic accompaniment is usual in parts of the Drum Solo but not everyone has access to this. I myself often play a whole solo without accompaniment and to get round this I use a lot of separation of senses to try to replicate accenting and phraseology against a rhythm. This is not covered in this DVD and that is fine as it is not so traditional and is also another whole topic in itself.

    OK, enough said – it’s a 10/10. Another triumph from David and Faisal and now Mariyah – if you want the best instructional DVD from a drummers perspective mainly on how to play a traditional style Drum Solo then look no further.

    To see more about these DVDs and other available tuitional material: