The Big “Doom” Davul (Drum) Show – ALLAF 017
Learn how to do an earth shaking shimmy to the powerful 2-headed bass drum the davul (aka tabl beledi), improv with your belly dance friends like a Turk in a circle dance, and get a super dance bra strap tip from Farha.
Parade season has begun in New York. Let’s celebrate a loved heartbeat of parades and street processions – the big bassy two-headed drum known as the davul! Or tabl beledi, or tupan etc. By the end of this episode, you will know so much more about this great drum and we can dance to it.
Big bassy sounds like the davul surround us in everyday life. Trucks driving by, things being dropped, doors slamming. So even if you aren’t around a davul often or ever, you can start to notice that deeper percussive sound throughout your day.
The davul is loud, portable two headed drum that is strapped onto the front of a standing musician and is carried. Two sides of the same drum make different sounds and can be made from the skin of two different animals, like a cow on one side and a goat on the other. This is important for us as dancers because these two different tones coax us to move in different ways. The thick skinned side is the grounding doum side, and the thinner skinned side is the lighter sound tek. And the thin skin higher pitched side can play along with the melody of a song in the Balkans for example or the thin skinned side can be played to add embellishments over the driving beat on the lower side of the drum. I did read on Wikipedia that there are smaller versions of this two headed drum. Let’s focus on the davuls with roughly 2 ft circumference. In Turkey, it is often played with 2 very different mallets. one mallet is quite long and skinny for the thin skinned side of the drum and the other mallet is big and makes a big sound on the thick skinned side of the drum. Drummers also hit the mallets on the wooden frame sometimes and there’s another sound.
Davul is a Turkish word. In the Balkans they call it a tupan or tapan. This drum has many names and many homes. In Arabic this drum is also called tabl baladi, meaning drum of the village or native or local. This drum is ideal for outdoor events, like wedding processions or other kids of parades. There’s a hint of home in this drum. Like returning to family in the country side after living in the city.
So the Danceable Ritual for this episode is dancing to the sound of returning home.
You can try this next time you return home, but for now imagine you are standing at your door. First there’s the softer sound of the door opening. Make an entrance.
If there’s someone inside your place when you open the door, dance for them. It’s show time!
Close the door behind you with dramatic style. Doum!
Start releasing what you have carried with you throughout the day.
If you have keys in your hand, dance the sound of your keys going where they go. They might jingle up to a hook or make a tek down on a flat surface.
Set your bag down with a hip drop on the Doum!
Shimmy those shoulders with your hands and shoulders free.
Peel off your coat, turning as you do and let your coat drop on the floor dramatically just for fun. Doum!
Do the zip up the boot move, where both hands gracefully reference and float up the lower inside of your leg. Zip up your boot and then unzip it, taking your shoe off gracefully.
Take the other shoe off to surprise and contrast by dropping it with a Doum! Own that noise!
Now do a U travel step, glide on the balls of your feet or 3 step turns farther into your house, happy to be home again. Where you are a star. Where you can experiment with different dance ideas and moves and costumes until you are ready to share them with whomever you like. Where you can listen to this podcast and great danceable songs and feel little lighter.
When you return home today, you might want to replay this part of the podcast and try this. I just did it again before recording this. It’s really fun. It can be a healing way to end a rough day or a celebratory way to end a great day.
Maraş üç Ayak – “Mah-rash ooch eye-ahk” – Marash is a city in Turkey close the southern border with Syria, close to the Mediterranean. Üç means 3, and ayak means foot. I asked a Turkish friend about the song, and she said that “Uc ayak is a hallay style that is adopted in different regions of Turkey. So Maras uc ayak is the uc ayak done in maras. I guess then the translation would be just 3 feet, Maras.
“Not sure why it is called that. One emphasis is that it is a mixed gender dance which is nice and progressive. That is all I know about it.” She said.
The featured recording of this song is played by just 2 instruments: the davul and zurna. Zurna and Davul are best friends in Turkish music. Davul is the drum. Zurna is the loud reeded instrument that looks a little like a mini clarinet with a smaller trumpet horn shape at the end. I talked about an Indian cousin of the zurna the poongi (poon-ghee) in episode 10 about dancing with Khalbelia (aka a gypsy caste) in India. I’ll feature the zurna in future episode, because it is also an instrument we hear in many wonderful songs that we dance to. To me, it sounds very exotic and folkloric.
Back to this song Maraş üç Ayak. The rhythm is simple and generally consistent. D t t D t t D t t t t t . Sometimes davul players vary their doums quite a bit, and play songs in 7/4 or 9/8 or other rhythms we might have a hard time counting at first. This song is pretty straight forward, so it’s a good song to take turns improvising to. There is something really special about the song.
This song is often on albums labeled Halay “hah-lai”, which is a region in Turkey as well as a category of folk dances from that region. It looks like it’s done in circles, which to me makes it more of a community moving together and dancing for each other than a performance for people who are not dancing. This makes it a fun dance style we can use to encourage and support solo improvisation in dance class.
A friend of mine has a davul made out of a modified bass drum like you see in a typical drum kit used in rock and roll, etc. Pretty cool.
The davul is also key in Lenabese and Syrian debke songs like Ya Ayn Mawlayitan which we featured in episode 2 The Water Episode. Check that out if you haven’t already.
I put another song called Davul Zurna Halayi on the spotify playlist as well. Now you know what the whole title of that song means! Pretty cool right? Look at you understanding some Turkish.
I also wanted to add the song “Uzun Ince Bir Yoldayim” “Oozoon inchay bir yol-dai- yim” to our Belly Dance Body and Soul playlist on Spotify. There’s a beautiful version with davul, and when I used google translate I saw the title means “I’m on a long thin road”. Hmm. Sounds a bit sad and oppressive. Warning: A lot of Turkish music has dark lyrics that it’s good for us to understand when we’re choosing dance songs. After a little more digging, I saw some comments about the song being about the Armenian genocide. Thank you internet contributors everywhere! Looks like that is not a danceable song. If you see the word “Halay”, it is more likely that the song is a dance song.
DAMN SEXY DANCE MOVE
Earth shaking full body shimmy
You can see a very subtle version of this move in videos of Turkish circle dances.
When we shimmy, we are pumping our knees, bending them in opposition. When we do the earth shaking full body shimmy, our knees are bending in unison. And we are not isolating the shimmy to one hip or both hips. It’s our full body, and most noticeable in our chest and our butt. It’s like the earth is shaking beneath you and you are embracing the movement, or you are starting your own mini innocuous earth quake with your power.
Stand with good belly dance posture. Feet shoulder width apart, knees soft, pelvis slightly tucked, chest open, shoulders rolled slightly back, chin and eyes raised forward.
With your feet flat on the floor, start bending your knees in unison so they are bent and then less bent back in neutral position. Keep going so you are bouncing with your upper body straight up with great posture. Your knees are always soft, never straight and locked. Keep bending your knees in unison and rising back up to neutral, feeling that earthquake especially in your chest and butt. Raise your arms up, still quaking and with palms facing behind you slide your two hands down toward the ground turning your fingertips toward the ground as they drift below your waist and frame your hips.
Choreo idea: have your troupe in a line holding hands circling the stage and take turns breaking from the line and soloing in the middle as if there was a davul there. When a person leaves the line the people on either side of them join hands to make it a line again. Each person rejoins the line after soloing. If you are performing in the round at a festival, you could dance facing out holding hands in the W hold in a circle with gap facing out and keep rotating with a soloist in the gap. Maybe even have multiple gaps with people soloing if you have a big group. https://youtu.be/-2-JlUSQZPs?t=181
In a lot of videos I saw people’s hands bouncing slightly up and down in rhythm with the music.
FEATURED LIGHTEN MY BODY FOOD
Oats. Rolled oatmeal resembles the head of a davul, so let’s feature it!
According to Wikipedia, the wild ancestor of oats may have come from the fertile crescent of the Middle East where the davul is still part of celebrations and life. Now most oats are grown in Europe and north America and southern Canada. It’s interesting to think about how climates, crops and cultural preferences for food change.
Oats are like little downward facing flowers with grains in place of petals. And like every grain there’s a spectrum of food product ranging from very whole to very processed. First the husks are removed, and the oat groats are cut in different sizes and ways.
Steel cut oats have the most nutrients and in my opinion are the most delicious. But they take around 20 minutes to cook, and therefore it takes some creativity to work them into a busy morning. The fiber in oats is the main magic, along with protein, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Steel cut oats have the best glycemic index, so they are the best form of oats for regulating blood sugar. The more oats are broken down, the easier it is for our bodies to absorb the natural sugar in them. When the sugar is wrapped up with fiber, it’s much better for us.
Then there are stone ground oats, which are cut a little smaller and cook a little faster.
Then rolled oats are steamed, toasted and flattened before they are packaged. This increase in processing decreases cooking time to as quick as 5 minutes.
Quick oats are rolled even thinner and cook even faster, and instant oats are often combined with other ingredients so you just add hot water and eat it.
Oatmeal is like a blank canvas. Another opportunity for kitchen art and alchemy. If we didn’t eat a lot of vegetables for dinner the night before, I add vegetables, mushrooms and miso to oatmeal and make it savory. At hotel breakfast buffets I add any vegetables they have and vegan beans, etc. to the oatmeal.
Oatmeal doesn’t have to be a sweet dish. If we haven’t gotten a lot of sunlight, I add a drop of vitamin D. Sometimes I add B12 and ground flax that I keep in the freezer. Drizzling tahini and raw or toasted nuts and seeds on top to add healthy fats. I throw apples or pears that are still good but no longer firm in right when I start cooking. When I use frozen berries or cherries I add them a couple minutes before the oatmeal is done cooking. In the fall I like to add cinnamon and a circle of molasses. There’s so much room for creativity with oatmeal.
So there are a lot of choices here. I bet there are microwave tricks and soaking tricks that cut down the prep time for steel cut and stone ground oats. If you have any tricks please post them on our A Little Lighter Facebook group page! I’d love to that page become a discussion space where you can get great ideas.
Back to oats. Oats have this natural sweetness. You can smell it in soap made with oats, and you can taste it in unsweetened oat milk, which is fairly processed because the oats are blended with water and the fiber is drained out. Sometimes producers add vitamins and minerals and the ingredient list gets a little long.
When a grain is ground into flour, it loses something. Just like a nut or seed, the energy is kept in this amazing little package. When it is open, the nutritional value or life force if you want to think of it that way changes.
So ground up oats make their way into a lot of processed food. Packaged cookies, bread with all kinds of funky ingredients that are not needed to make bread but do give it a long shelf life and make it cheaper to produce. Like milk products and “enriched” flour which was stripped of nutrients and then combined with riboflavin and reduced iron. Straight up food science, and it doesn’t have to be that way.
And there are gluten-free oats. It’s not that oats contain gluten, it’s that they are usually milled on the same equipment as grains that do contain gluten. The old cross-contamination trick. There’s a range of gluten sensitivity that people just figure out. A lot of gluten-free people can eat gluten-free oats. That’s pretty wonderful.
Long live oatmeal!
MAKE YOU SHINE COSTUME TIP
There’s a strap on a davul, so why not feature a tip about another kind of strap. Belly dance bra straps! My fellow dancer friend Farha has a great page farhabellydance.com with a whole bunch of costume tips. Just like Mahin’s website bellydancequickies.com that we talked about in episode 16, Farha made her website a resource for her students.
If you are making your own costume, or if the straps are long enough, I HIGHLY recommend crossing the straps in the back, you get good lift out of it, the bra will usually stay in place if a hook were to pop-even without an elastic backup- and it’s super comfortable.
The next best thing is T straps. You need to get a strong, non-stretching, fabric like grossgrain ribbon, as well as some trim that will coordinate with your costume. If you can’t find anything to coordinate you might need to bead the ribbon yourself, but you can usually get a good look with pre-made trim. Open up the lining and attach the ribbon to the neck strap at the top with a VERY strong stitch, be sure to go all the way through the fabric, but also not to let your stitches show. The difficulty of this will vary depending on how your band is decorated: if it’s fully sequined you won’t have much trouble, assuit also hides stitching well, you might need to keep your stitching hidden by the beaded edge. Once attached at the top have a friend pull it down and mark where it needs to be attached to the band. You need to pull tight enough that the weight of your breasts is transferred from your neck the new strap, which will transfer it to the band where it belongs. cover it with the nice trim then attach it, tucking a few extra inches into the lining, so the bra can be adjusted if you decide to sell it.
She’s a smart cookie that Farha! Thank you for sharing your costume tip with us!
Always listen for the doum.
SAINT OF TRUTH
The A Little Lighter Facebook group page needs help! I love making these podcasts for you, and let’s be honest it takes a lot of hours to create them. But it’s totally worth it, and I want you to get even more out of this podcast.
There is a place for you to share ideas inspired by this podcast, challenge parts of this podcast that you disagree with, or just share whatever you want related to belly dance, food and feeling a little lighter. It’s the A Little Lighter Facebook group page, which I do not post on enough. Help! This is the part I am struggling with. If you have any suggestions for me, please post on the group page. I will give shout outs and praise to the people who help. Melody and and Damaris have been amazing voices and contributors to the facebook group.
So I made my confession. What is my action step?
I will schedule reminders for 2 posts a week on the facebook group page.