A Review of
Riqs & Defs: A Practical Approach
by Uncle Mafufo
Overall Rating: (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.
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||Technique for playing Middle Eastern frame drums (riqq/def)
|Recommended Drumming Skill Level
||Experienced doumbec player or beginning riqq/def player
|Total Video Length
|Time Devoted to Instruction
||48 minutes (100%)
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.
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
- 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.
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
- 2/4 Rhythms. Ayyoub, Malfoof, and Saudi/Khaleegi
- 4/4 Rhythms. Maksoom, Saidi, beledi
- 6/8 Rhythms. Darig
- 3/4 Rhythms. Vals
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.
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
- 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
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:
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.
To Buy It
Capitola, CA 95010
Phone: (+1) (831) 475-3591
Fax: (+1) (831) 475-3591
Web Site: www.unclemafufo.com
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