Photo of Shira



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

A Review of

Riqs & Defs: A Practical Approach

by Uncle Mafufo


Explore belly dancing! Learn all about bellydance!



Overall Rating: StarStarStarStar (on a scale of 1 to 5 stars)

Armando Mafufo provides instruction on how to play two types of Egyptian frame drum: the riqq (Arabic tambourine) and the def (large drum, also known as a tar). He assumes that his viewer has some prior knowledge of Middle Eastern rhythms and focuses on the technique for playing these particular instruments. Riqs and Defs VHS Tape Cover Riqs and Defs Album Cover


Explore belly dancing! Learn all about bellydance!

What Users Think

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

The above poll includes responses submitted since July 29, 2003.

Note: Shira has a policy against video producers asking their students, family, and friends to pad the votes, or campaigning for favorable votes through their web sites. Click here for detailed information about the policy.


Explore belly dancing! Learn all about bellydance!

Fact Sheet

Subject Matter Technique for playing Middle Eastern frame drums (riqq/def)
Recommended Drumming Skill Level Experienced doumbec player or beginning riqq/def player
Overall Rating StarStarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStarStar
Total Video Length 48 minutes
Time Devoted to Instruction 48 minutes (100%)


Explore belly dancing! Learn all about bellydance!


Armando Mafufo introduces styles of Arabic frame drums (skin stretched across a cylindrical frame), teaching technique for working with such drums and showing how common Arabic rhythms can be played on them. About half of the video is focused on the riq (Arabic tambourine), and the other half on the def (also known as tabla baladi or tar). At the end, he also demonstrates (but doesn't teach) a third type of frame drum known as the muzhar.

The video opens with introductory comments by Armando. He shows what a riq is, and what a def is, explaining how they differ.

The first instructional section of the video is titled "Riq Basic Technique". Armando shows how to hold the tambourine, teaches how to produce each of several types of sounds on it: a roll, a slap, a doon, a tec, and a ca. Armando's style is very cordial, making it pleasant to follow along with what he is teaching.

Armando next moves on to teach several rhythms. Armando divides the rhythms into several different categories according to how many beats each has per measure. These include:

  • 2-Beat. Ayyoub, Malfoof, and Saudi/Khaleegi
  • 4-Beat. Maqsoom, beledi, and Saidi
  • 3-Beat. Vals
  • 6-Beat. Darig

All of the 2-beat and 4-beat rhythms taught on this video are used in Egyptian music. The 6-beat rhythm is more typical of other parts of North Africa.

Armando introduces each rhythm with spoken words such as "doon" and "tec" indicating the structure of the rhythm. This is done quickly, as if reviewing something you have previously learned. Diagrams on the back cover of the video show the structure for each rhythm, serving as a visual aid. He then plays it, offering suggestions for which of the many riq sounds might be appropriate. He then shows how it can be varied by substituting one sound for another; for example, substituting a slap for a doon.

Initially, Armando plays the rhythm simply, then varies it in assorted ways. A newcomer to the instrument can steadily continue playing the original rhythm, while a more experienced drummer can select variations to work on.

In the "Def Basic Technique" section Armando introduces a different kind of drum, the def. He mentions how the def differs from similar drums. He then shows techniques for holding and playing the def, including the tek, roll, doon, and grab/slap. He reviews the same rhythms covered earlier in the riq section, this time showing how they could be played on the def and different types of strokes used to vary the sound.

The video closes with a demo of the muzhar, another type of frame drum that looks like a cross between a riq and a def. There is no instruction with this, just the demo.

The lighting and sound quality are excellent. The camera angles are intelligently chosen, always making it easy to see Armando's hands. The angles shift frequently enough to avoid monotony, but linger long enough on the important shots.


Explore belly dancing! Learn all about bellydance!

Is It Right for You?

You Will Probably Enjoy This Video If...

  • You already know Middle Eastern rhythms well enough to play them on finger cymbals or doumbec and now you would like to learn how to play them on a frame drum.
  • You would like to build some drumming skill so you can play for dancers.
  • You would enjoy seeing how common Arabic rhythms could be adapted to different types of drums.
  • You're looking for a video to assist you with home practice between drumming classes.
  • You're an intermediate drummer who can play basic rhythms on a frame drum but you would like ideas on how to embellish them with variations.

This Video Probably Isn't Right for You If...

  • You have never before picked up a drum of any kind.
  • You need an elementary tutorial in Middle Eastern rhythms.


Explore belly dancing! Learn all about bellydance!

What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked:

  • Armando uses words like "doon" and "tec" to describe each rhythm before playing it.
  • Armando has a fun-loving, playful on-screen personality while still demonstrating that he takes his role as intructor seriously.
  • Armando is a skilled musician and instructor.
  • Armando plays variations to demonstrate alternate ways to produce the rhythm, offering viewers multiple ideas to work with.
  • Armando shows different kinds of drums and identifies them, which is helpful to people who are new to Middle Eastern instruments.
  • The back cover lists the rhythms included on this video and includes notes on the structure of each.
  • Armando's explanations are clear and easy to understand.

What I Didn't Like:

  • Armando moves somewhat more quickly than I would prefer when introducing a rhythm.This is great for people with some prior experience in learning to play Middle Eastern rhythms on another instrument such as finger cymbals, but beginners may have trouble keeping up.


Explore belly dancing! Learn all about bellydance!

Rhythms Included

  • 2/4 Rhythms. Ayyoub, Malfoof, and Saudi/Khaleegi
  • 4/4 Rhythms. Maksoom, Saidi, beledi
  • 6/8 Rhythms. Darig
  • 3/4 Rhythms. Vals


Explore belly dancing! Learn all about bellydance!

In Conclusion

This video focuses on teaching drumming technique rather than on teaching Middle Eastern rhythms. Rhythms are reviewed, rather than taught in detail. Drummers who have mastered the doumbec/tabla and now want to learn to play frame drums will probably find this video helpful, as will dancers who have mastered Middle Eastern rhythms on finger cymbals and now want to learn how to play a drum. Drum students lucky enough to have a local instructor can use this video to assist with home practice between classes.


Explore belly dancing! Learn all about bellydance!

Reviews of Other Products By This Instructor

If you'd like to read my reviews of other videos featuring Armando, choose from the list below:

  • Basic Rhythms for Arabic Drum. Instruction by Armando in Middle Eastern rhythms plus technique for playing the tabla/doumbec.
  • Fire at the Iao. (Armando is the percussionist for Sirocco, the band that plays for Delilah's performance on this video.)
  • Delilah & Sirocco: Live & Wild. (This is only an opinion poll, not a full-length review. Again, Sirocco provides the music for Delilah's dance performance.)


If you'd like to read my reviews of music CD's on which Armando is one of the artists, choose from the list below:


Explore belly dancing! Learn all about bellydance!


I first discovered the music of Sirocco (the band that Armando plays percussion for) around 1985 when one of my dance teachers used their music in class and dragged me to watch her perform with them as her live musicians. Since then, I have danced to them live myself on various occasions, bought many of their recordings, and met them at dance events. I always enjoy speaking with Armando and his wife Hanya when I see them. They gave me a complimentary copy of this video to review for my web site.


Explore belly dancing! Learn all about bellydance!

To Buy It

Fojaco Productions
P.O.Box 24
Capitola, CA 95010

Phone: (+1) (831) 475-3591
Fax: (+1) (831) 475-3591

Web Site:



Copyright Notice

This entire web site is copyrighted. All rights reserved.

All articles, images, forms, scripts, directories, and product reviews on this web site are the property of Shira unless a different author/artist is identified. Material from this web site may not be posted on any other web site unless permission is first obtained from Shira.

Academic papers for school purposes may use information from this site only if the paper properly identifies the original article on using appropriate citations (footnotes, end notes, etc.) and bibliography. Consult your instructor for instructions on how to do this.

If you wish to translate articles from into a language other than English, Shira will be happy to post your translation here on along with a note identifying you as the translator. This could include your photo and biography if you want it to. Contact Shira for more information. You may not post translations of Shira's articles on anybody else's web site, not even your own.

If you are a teacher, performer, or student of Middle Eastern dance, you may link directly to any page on this web site from either your blog or your own web site without first obtaining Shira's permission. Click here for link buttons and other information on how to link.



Explore more belly dance info:

Top >
Belly Dancing >
Index to the Middle Eastern Music Section


Share this page!

On Facebook


 Top > Belly Dancing > Index to the Middle Eastern Music Section

| Contact Shira | Links | Search this Site |