We are in San Francisco this weekend, for six performances at Yoshi’s. This afternoon I will also do a solo performance at the Fillmore Jazz Festival – at 2PM on the Fillmore street at Sutter street stage.
I have been watching Houman Orei play the traditional Persian Tonbak drum with us, a gorgeous instrument carved from a solid piece of Walnut wood. It has a lovely sound, darker than the bright Darbuka, which is also called Dumbek. The playing technique of the Tonbak involves mostly finger slapping, compared to, say, the palm slapping of a conga or djembe. These finger techniques are exactly the same as rasgueados, the strumming technique used in flamenco guitar music. Since the Tonbak is a very old Persian instrument, it seems likely that Moorish musicians in Spain played those, or similar drums. It seems logical to me that guitarists observed these drum techniques and copied them to enhance their rhythmic playing, especially in view of accompanying dancers.