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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Finger Cymbal Pattern Ideas
for Use with Turkish 9/8 Music

 

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Table of Contents

 

 

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Introduction

This page contains 9 finger cymbal rhythms that are suitable for belly dancing to Turkish 9/8 music, particularly for Turkish Oriental style of dance. "9/8" means there are nine beats to a measure and an eighth note gets one count. Not every one of these rhythms will work with every Turkish 9/8 song — listen to the music, and play rhythms that fit well with it.

Many belly dancers play only one repetitive rhythm throughout their dance. This is very boring to listen to, and it is the mark of a dancer who is still very much a beginner in the art of using finger cymbals. To keep your cymbal playing interesting, vary the pattern that you use, but always be sure to pick patterns that work with the music.

How to Use These Patterns

So, how should you use the suggested patterns that appear on this web page?

  • They provide something tangible that you can drill, for building dexterity and "muscle learning" into your hands
  • They can help train your ear to hear various underlying rhythms in the music.
  • If you are creating a choreography to be used by a group, then you may also want to choreograph the accompanying finger cymbal rhythms to correspond, and the rhythms on this page may help inspire your thinking.
  • These are not the only patterns you can play to Turkish 9/8 music. They are a sample to help you get started. Ultimately, your goal should be to quit consciously thinking about patterns, and focus on letting the music shape what you play.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Stephanie Hough Lockard, Houston, Texas.

Shira

Using The Rhythm Pattern Descriptions

In the following descriptions of cymbal rhythm patterns:

  • Listen To It offers you MP3 clips that you can listen to on your computer.
  • Sound Pattern is a name for the rhythm that you can use to quickly communicate which pattern you mean when talking to another dancer — for example, when teaching a class.
  • Spoken As refers to the words that describe what this rhythm would sound like if it were being played on a dumbek / tabla / darabukka (Middle Eastern drum). The syllables that appear in CAPITAL LETTERS should be accented.
  • Which Hand To Use shows you whether to use the right or the left. It is shown for both right-handed cymbal players and left-handed . Use whichever you find more comfortable for you. "L" refers to the left hand, and "R" to the right hand.
  • Musical Notation indicates how the pattern would be written using musical notes. Accompanying each are the words you would use to count the pattern, with commas inserted where pauses would be.
  • Counting Diagram shows how the musical notation would be counted, but can be used by people who have not been taught musical notation. It shows each pattern twice — the first time, for right-handed dancers, and the second time for left-handed dancers. Use whichever line you feel more comfortable with. "L" and "l" refer to the left hand, and "R" and "r" refer to the right hand. When the letter is capitalized, that means accent that note. When lower-case, it means play that note without an accent.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Shira

 

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So, What Is This 9/8 Stuff?

The 9/8 time signature is very unfamiliar to the Western ear because Western music simply doesn't use it. The rhythm originated in Turkey, and has 9 beats per measure, with an eighth note getting one count.

The cymbal patterns on this page are designed to be used with the rhythm typical of upbeat Turkish folk songs. Many belly dancers refer to this rhythm as karşilama. This word means "welcome".

These cymbal patterns are not designed to be used with the slower, bluesy 9/8 Turkish Rom style of music or other 9/8 music from other cultures. You may, however, find that some of these cymbal patterns work with other 9/8 music. Listen carefully to the music you wish to use, and experiment with playing patterns that seem to work.

A single measure of the particular 9/8 rhythm described on this page is subdivided into 3 sets of 2 counts each (12, 34, 56) and one set of 3 counts (789). The accents fall on counts 1, 3, 5, and 7. If you are not familiar with the Turkish 9/8 rhythm at all, start with listening to the audio files of the first three patterns that appear below: Simple, Simple With Silent 89, and Even. You can move on to the more complex patterns after mastering the simpler ones.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Shira

 

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Examples of 9/8 Songs

Not sure which music uses this time signature? Look for it on collections of Turkish or Greek music. Some music will say either karsilama or 9/8 on the label next to the title of the song.

Do not expect to find this sort of 9/8 music on any collections of Arabic or North Africa music.

Dere

Translation available.

Music <==Click to hear version on Best of the Sultans by Omar Faruk Tekbilek.

Music <==Click to hear version on Eye On the World by Brothers of the Baladi.

Old Turkish folk song. If you are new to working with 9/8, this is probably the best song to start with, because it is a little slower than most other karsilamas.

Rompi Rompi (also called Çadırımın Üstüne)

Translation available.

Music <==Click to hear version on Sirocco by John Bilezikjian.

Music <==Click to hear version on Gypsy Fire by Omar Faruk Tekbilek.

This is probably the best-known of the songs that use the Turkish Oriental version of the 9/8 time signature, and will be easiest to find. This is also the one that a live band in the U.S. is most likely to play for you if you request a 9/8.
Hoplada   There are only two albums I know of that contain this song, both vinyl LP's. One is Music for Belly Dancing by Ozel, and the other is one of those released in the 1970's by Jalaleddin Takesh.
Tomzara   Most likely to be found on collections of Armenian music.
Marinella   I encountered this one on the album Evening at the Cafe Feenjon. "Marinella" has also been used as the title of entirely different songs that are not 9/8's, so shop with care.

 

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Simple

This and Simple, Silent 8-9 are the two simplest finger cymbal rhythms for Turkish 9/8 music.

Listen to It

Music <== Click on the note to hear it.

Sound Pattern

1 1 1 3

Spoken As

In "Drum Talk" DOOM TEK DOOM TEK tek tek
Musician-Style Counting ONE THREE FIVE SEVEN-eight-nine
Non-Musician Counting 1 1 1 123

In Musical Notation

98 Simple Musical Notation

Counting Diagram

Accent the beats capitalized below.

1---2---3---4---5---6---7---8---9---|
R       R       R       R   R   R   |
L       L       L       L   L   L   |
1---2---3---4---5---6---7---8---9---|

Which Hand to Use

If You're Right-Handed R R R RRR
If You're Left-Handed L L L LLL

 

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Simple with Silent 8-9

This and Simple are the two simplest finger cymbal rhythms for Turkish 9/8 music.

Listen to It

Music <== Click on the note to hear it.

Sound Pattern

1 1 1 1

Spoken As

In "Drum Talk" DOOM TEK DOOM TEK
Musician-Style Counting one three five seven
Non-Musician Counting 1 1 1 1

In Musical Notation

9/8 Simple with Silent 8-9 Musical Notation

Counting Diagram

Accent the beats capitalized below.

1---2---3---4---5---6---7---8---9---|
R       R       R       R           |
L       L       L       L           |
1---2---3---4---5---6---7---8---9---|

Which Hand to Use

If You're Right-Handed R R R R
If You're Left-Handed L L L L

 

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Even

Musically speaking, this is a very simple pattern because you play one cymbal stroke on each beat. The challenge is to get the accents in the right places (counts 1, 3, 5, and 7).

Listen to It

Music <== Click on the note to hear it.

Sound Pattern

2 2 2 3

Spoken As

In "Drum Talk" TEK-ka TEK-ka TEK-ka TEK tek tek
Musician-Style Counting ONE two THREE four FIVE six SEVEN eight nine
Non-Musician Counting 12 12 12 1 1 1

In Musical Notation

9/8 Even Musical Notation

Counting Diagram

Accent the beats capitalized below.

1---2---3---4---5---6---7---8---9---|
R   l   R   l   R   l   R   R   R   |
L   r   L   r   L   r   L   L   L   |
1---2---3---4---5---6---7---8---9---|

Which Hand to Use

If You're Right-Handed RL RL RL RRR
If You're Left-Handed LR LR LR LLL

 

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Basic

Listen to It

Music <== Click on the note to hear it.

Sound Pattern

1 3 3 3 1 1

Spoken As

In "Drum Talk" DOOM tekka TEK tekka DOOM tekka TEK tek tek
Musician-Style Counting ONE, two-and-THREE, four-and-FIVE, six-and-SEVEN eight nine
Non-Musician Counting 1 123 123 123 1 1

In Musical Notation

9/8 Basic Musical Notation

Counting Diagram

Accent the beats capitalized below.

1---2---3---4---5---6---7---8---9---|
R   r l R   r l R   r l R   R   R   |
L   l r L   l r L   l r L   L   L   |
1---2---3---4---5---6---7---8---9---|

Which Hand to Use

If You're Right-Handed R RLR RLR RLR RRR
If You're Left-Handed L LRL LRL LRL LLL

 

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Basic With Silent 8-9

This variation of Basic is silent on counts 8 and 9.

Listen to It

Music <== Click on the note to hear it.

Sound Pattern

1 3 3 3

Spoken As

In "Drum Talk" DOOM tekka TEK tekka DOOM tekka TEK
Musician-Style Counting ONE, two-and-THREE, four-and-FIVE, six-and-SEVEN
Non-Musician Counting 1 123 123 123

In Musical Notation

9/8 Basic with Silent 8-9 Musical Notation

Counting Diagram

Accent the beats capitalized below.

1---2---3---4---5---6---7---8---9---|
R   r l R   r l R   r l R           |
L   l r L   l r L   l r L           |
1---2---3---4---5---6---7---8---9---|

Which Hand to Use

If You're Right-Handed R RLR RLR RLR
If You're Left-Handed L LRL LRL LRL

 

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Basic With Filled Middle

"Filled" refers to rapidly playing on both the beat and the "and" of the beat for a group of counts.

Listen to It

Music <== Click on the note to hear it.

Sound Pattern

1 6 4 3

Spoken As

In "Drum Talk" DOOM tekka TEK-ka tekka TEK-ka tekka TEK tek tek
Musician-Style Counting ONE two-and THREE-and-four-and FIVE-and-six-and SEVEN eight nine
Non-Musician Counting 1 123456 1234 1 1 1

In Musical Notation

9/8 Basic with Filled Middle in Musical Notation

Counting Diagram

Accent the beats capitalized below.

1---2---3---4---5---6---7---8---9---|
R   r l R l r l R l r l R   R   R   |
L   l r L r l r L r l r L   L   L   |
1---2---3---4---5---6---7---8---9---|

Which Hand to Use

If You're Right-Handed R RLRLRLRLRL RRR
If You're Left-Handed L LRLRLRLRLR LLL

 

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Basic, Filled On Counts 1-6

Listen to It

Music <== Click on the note to hear it.

Sound Pattern

4-4-4-3

Spoken As

In "Drum Talk" TEK-ka tekka TEK-ka tekka TEK-ka tekka TEK tek tek
Musician-Style Counting ONE and two and THREE and four and FIVE and six and SEVEN eight nine
Non-Musician Counting 1234, 1234, 1234, 123
or
1-ee-and-a, 2-ee-and-a, 3-ee-and-a 123

In Musical Notation

9/8 Basic Filled on Counts 1-6 Musical Notation

Counting Diagram

Accent the beats capitalized below.

1---2---3---4---5---6---7---8---9---|
R l r l R l r l R l r l R   R   R   |
L r l r L r l r L r l r L   L   L   |
1---2---3---4---5---6---7---8---9---|

Which Hand to Use

If You're Right-Handed RLRL RLRL RLRL R R R
If You're Left-Handed LRLR LRLR LRLR L L L

 

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Basic, Filled 1-6, Silent 8-9

Listen to It

Music <== Click on the note to hear it.

Sound Pattern

4 4 5

Spoken As

In "Drum Talk" TEK-ka tekka TEK-ka tekka TEK-ka tekka TEK
Musician-Style Counting ONE and two and THREE and four and FIVE and six and SEVEN
Non-Musician Counting 1234, 1234, 12345
or
1-ee-and-a, 2-ee-and-a, 3-ee-and-a-4

In Musical Notation

9/8 Basic Filled 1-6 with Silent 8-9 in Musical Notation

Counting Diagram

Accent the beats capitalized below.

1---2---3---4---5---6---7---8---9---|
R l r l R l r l R l r l R           |
L r l r L r l r L r l r L           |
1---2---3---4---5---6---7---8---9---|

Which Hand to Use

If You're Right-Handed RLRL RLRL RLRLR
If You're Left-Handed LRLR LRLR LRLRL

 

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Syncopated

This is by far the most difficult of the rhythms suggested on this page! If you don't have any formal musical training, you'll find this one very difficult to master unless you have an excellent finger cymbal teacher who can help you hear how it sounds with the music. I think it sounds best when clacking the finger cymbals strongly together on both hands at once on each strike, so that they don't ring.

Note that on this rhythm, the cymbals actually strike on counts 2, 4, 6, 8, and 9. That's what makes this rhythm tricky, and even people with solid musical training may have trouble properly synchronizing it with the music. But if you can master this one, you'll truly impress those members of your audience who have musical training, as well as the musicians who play for you.

Listen to It

Music <== Click on the note to hear it.

Sound Pattern

1 1 1 2

Spoken As

In "Drum Talk" (silence) TEK (silence) TEK (silence) TEK (silence) TEK TEK
Musician-Style Counting one TWO three FOUR five SIX seven EIGHT NINE
Non-Musician Counting 1 1 1 2
or
one AND two AND three AND four FIVE SIX

In Musical Notation

9/8 Syncopated in Musical Notation

Counting Diagram

Accent the beats capitalized below.

1---2---3---4---5---6---7---8---9---|
    B      B       B       B   B    |
1---2---3---4---5---6---7---8---9---|

Which Hand to Use

For this description, "B" stands for clanking the finger cymbals on both hands in unison for a loud accented sound.

B B B BB

 

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Now, Have Fun With It!

Now it's time to experiment. Here are some exercises.

Try making up your own combinations that work well with this 9/8 music. One way to do that is to modify some of the ones on this page by inserting fills and silence into various parts of them. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:

  • Try doing Even with silent 8 and 9.
  • Insert a rest (silence) in the place of a "3" or a "1". For example, try Basic as follows: 1-3-silence-3-1-1.
  • Try doing a fill on counts 7 and 8. For example, try Simple as follows: 1-1-1-5
  • Insert fills in place of some groups of 3 in the Basic pattern. For example try modifying Basic this way: 1-3-7-1-1.

Put some Turkish music on your sound system, and listen for the 9/8 rhythm. If you don't hear it, maybe you chose a song that either doesn't use it (there are Turkish 4/4 and 2/4 songs, too), or obscures it with creative musicianship. Try another. Once you find a song that does offer a good, easy-to-hear, strong karsilama beat, practice all the various rhythms on this page in time to it. Then proceed with doing your own improvisations to it.

 

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Related Articles

 

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