Darbuka Lessons Forums Learn Darbuka Forum The Journey of Sonika Percussion Clay Darbuka Production

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    The creation journey of clay darbuka (doumbek) starts with the clay from earth. Our master uses clay from Menemen region of Turkey for our Sonika Percussion instruments. As a starting point, raw clay is cleaned up and transformed into a sculpting clay by mixing with water. This final clay material is formed in a potter’s wheel in the hands of the master to become a darbuka. The forming process is done in two steps. First step is forming the head and second is the bottom neck of darbuka. Then two pieces are assembled by putting the head part on top of the neck. Final form of darbuka is shaped in the hands of the master in the potter’s wheel.

    Once the final form of darbuka is shaped, the body of the darbuka can be decorated with scraping technique and darbuka is left for air drying before it is baked in the oven. The baking process is done at 700-950C degrees. The tuning of clay is arranged with the heating temperature. Bass sounds are obtained in temperatures between 700-850C and more high frequency sounds are obtained between 850 up to 950C degrees.

    Once the darbuka body creation process is completed, second phase of the clay darbuka creation is to cover the skin on top. Usually small (solo size) darbuka skin diameters are between 21-23cm and outside diameter is between 29-31cm. Usually goat skin, fish skin (catfish) are preferred for this size clay darbuka. In larger clay darbuka (mid bass and bass darbuka / dohollo) skin size is between 24-29cm and outside diameter is between 32-38cm. In larger size darbuka, thicker skins are preferred such as calfskin and goat skin.

    The skin is left in the water about 20 minutes and then is rested to remove the extra wet for a few minutes. This skin is stretched on the top of darbuka by applying glue. Glue is heated before applied on darbuka. The skin is tightened further with braiding a rope around to ensure a strong fix.

    Clay darbuka is a 100% handcrafted instrument. Each and every step of its creation is made by hands and therefore each clay darbuka is unique with its look, sound and character.

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