Type: Membranophones > Cylindrical > Drums.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 211.22
Region: Middle-East, Many.
Description: The davul, tapan, atabal or tabl is a large double-headed drum that is played with mallets. It has many names depending on the country and region. These drums are commonly used in the music of Middle East. These drums have both a deep bass sound and a thin treble sound due to their construction and playing style, where different heads and sticks are used to produce different sounds on the same drum.
In the southern Balkans the rhythms of the tapan are complex and they utilize many accents in numerous traditional time signatures. They are usually odd metre rhythms played at varying tempos through out the performance. In Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia & Bulgaria, Serbia, tapans are usually used to accompany other instruments such as the zurna. For centuries the tapan has been irreplaceable at Bulgarian village festivities such as weddings and celebrations of patron saints of homes and villages.
In Romania and Moldova the toba is sometimes used to accompany dances. In the regions of Moldavia, Maramures and Bihor there are also some varieties with a small cymbal mounted on top. They are generally struck with a wooden mallet on one skin and with a thinner stick on the rim or cymbal.
In Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia, the davul is most commonly played with the zurna, although it can be played with other instruments and in ensembles as well. It has also traditionally been used for communication and for Turkish mehter, or janissary music. In Iraq and the Levant, it is predominantly used in Assyrian folk dance and Assyrian folk / pop music, among Assyrian people, which are mostly accompanied by a zurna, a wind instrument.
In Armenia the dhol does not have as large of a circumference and is usually played with the hands, although a wooden, spoon-shaped drumstick is also used. It is frequently heard in Armenian folk music. Not only is it in folk music but also in modern music as well, even having solos in many prominent songs.
Construction: The drum shell is made of hard wood, perhaps walnut or chestnut, though many woods may be in use depending on the region where the drum is made. To make the shell, the wood is boiled in water to make it bendable, and then it is bent into a cylindrical shape and fastened together. The heads are usually goat skin, and they are shaped into circles by wooden frames. However, one head may be goat skin to provide a higher tone, while the other head can be sheepskin, calfskin, or even donkey-skin to provide a lower tone.
Some say that wolf skin and even dog skin are preferred. Rope threaded back and forth across the shell of the drum, from head to head in a zigzag pattern, holds the heads on the drum and provides tension for tuning the drum. Sometimes metal rings or leather straps join neighbouring strands of the rope in order to allow for further tuning. Two rings are sometimes attached to the main rope where a belt-like rope is threaded through to hold the drum.
In the former Yugoslavian republics and Bulgaria, the tapan is made in two dimensions, Bulgarian: golem, at about 50 – 55 cm diameter, and Bulgarian: mal or tapanche, at about 30 – 35 cm diameter. In Turkey, davuls typically range in size from 60 cm to 90 cm in diameter. Cow hide is used for the bass pitch drum head side, while goat skin is used for the thin, high pitched side. In Greece, daouli can be 30.48 cm or 12 inches to 35.56 cm or 14 inches for the toumbi up to 0.9 metres or 3 feet to 1.2 metres or 4 feet for daouli. Commonly the drum is about 20 to 30 inches.