Frame Drum

some general info about frame drums

The Frame Drum is among the earliest drums you can find in image or text sources. The earliest image was found in a Cave in the region that is now Turkey. By defiition a frame drum is a drum that has a drumhead width greater than its depth.

There are many different versions of the frame drum. The morroccan Bendir has strings attached to the inside of the frame which acts as a snare.

Morroccan Bendir

Morroccan bendir

Nowadays the frame drum is alive among others in the music cultures of the Middle-East, India, Italy and Ireland. In the Middle-East it is one of the most popular drums for accompanying classical and folk-music, and is also used in percussion ensembles.

I will give you some examples of different frame drums and their specific features.

Iranian Daf

Peyman Nassehpoor from Iran playing the Iranian frame drum Daf

The Daf is a large frame drum with chains attached to the inside of the frame. It is played by a combination of playing on the skin with both hands, and using different combinations of shaking techniques. Originally it was used to perform for Sufi Ceremonies, nowadays it is also more and more used in folk and classical Iranian music.

For an example of Iranian Daf Playing check out Episode 20 of the Frame Drum Video Podcast in the frame drum video collection on the bottom of the page.

Italian Tamburello

The Itallian Tamburello is a tambourin played since many hundred years. The playing style of this frame drum includes a lot of shaking and turning with the holding hand, and a elaborated technique for the main hand. In pictures of the 12th – 15th century you can find images which clearly pictures a playing style very similar to how it is played today. For an example of Tamburell Playing check out Episode 11 of the frame drum video podcast in the podcast section or in the frame drum video collection on at the bottom of the page.

Italian Tamburello

Image of an Angel playing a tambourin tamburello-style

Irish Bodhan

The Irish Bodhran is played with a wooden beater. It often features a crossbar in the inside of the frame. While the right hand plays with the beater, the left hand modulates the sound of the Drum using pressure changes. For some live examples of Bodhran playing check out Episode 14 of the frame drum video podcast in the frame drum video collection at the bottom of the page.

Steafan Hannigan playing the Irish Frame Drum Bodhran

South Indian Kanjira

The South-Indian Kanjira is a very small tambourine played with extreme virtuosity. It uses the Indian Split-Hand Technique and a big part of techniques that are used in the modern lapstyle are drawn from this instrument. The Karnatic (South-Indian) Music tradition uses very complex rhythmical patterns, often played in unison by the whole percussion ensemble.

To see a live example of the Kanjira check out Episode 10 of the podcast or go to the frame drum video collection at the bottom of the page.

Trichy Sankaran playing the Kanjira

Trichy Sankaran playing the kanjira

Contemporary Lapstyle Frame Drum playing

In the 1970ies Glen Velez created a modern style of frame drumming that influences many frame drum players today. He transferred techniques from the Middle-Eastern, Indian, Italian, Brazilian and other percussion traditions and created a unique and complex set of techniques creating a wide variety of sounds and rhythms.

David had the privilege to take some lessons from him which literally changed his life. When checking youtube for videos, make sure to also look for Zohar Fresco, an Israeli frame drum virtuoso who whose dedication and virtuosity is a great inspiration.

Glen Velez playing Lapstyle Frame Drum

Frame Drum Video Instruction:

for frame drum video tutorials, check out David’s Frame Drum DVDs. For lots of free video tutorials check the tutorials in the video section of this website.

Frame Drum Videos:

Shekoofeeh Pariab demonstrating the Iranian Frame Drum Daf

Tommy Hayes demonstrating the Irish Bodhran

Andrea Piccioni demonstrating the tamburello

N.Scott Robinson demonstrating the Kanjira

Umayalpuram K Sivaraman & G Harishankar, Kanjira legends

David performing a frame drum solo on upright and contemporary lapstyle frame drum