Riq by Kevork, photo by Julian Oczkowski

General information about the Riq

The Riq (also Riqq, Reqq, Rik) is the tambourin played in the Middle-Eastern World. It has 5 double jingle pairs in the frame and is usually somewhere around 9″ in diameter. It is used to accompany classical Turkish and Arabic music, but also common in folk music from these Areas. In North-Afrika there is different version of the riq, smaller in diameter and played with a different technique. Traditionally the riq has a wooden frame and a fishskin head. Sometimes complex inlay artwork is used to decorate the frame.

Some examples of Riqs with inlay artwork

riq-2.jpg riq-inlay.jpgriq-small.jpg

You can see many different Riq models in the riq comparison article the riq comparison video below:

Playing Style

The Riq can be played with an elaborated finger technique. Part of the fascination of this little tambourin is the amazing amount of sounds that it can produce. There are a couple of different playing positions, like the classical or “soft” position which doesn’t utilize jingle playing, or the “cabaret” position which uses the jingles and is much louder. It was played in the theater this way, hence the name. There are also a couple of open positions which use a lot of shaking, these are used a lot in North Africa with the smaller riqs. Check out the riq videos on the bottom of the page to see examples of different playing styles.

cabaret position

classical position


The riq is found a assompanying drum for melody instruments and singers. One of the best known riq players is Michel Merhej, who used to play Riq in Fayruz’s ensemble and lives in the United States. The Riq is also part of the Middle-Eastern percussion-ensemble, where it often used to be the instrument of the ensemble leader and soloist, a role that nowadays usually is with the darbuka player.

Modern Riq Playing

Virtuoso riq players such as Glen Velez (USA), Zohar Fresco (Israel) and Mehmet Akatay (Turkey) have pushed the technical aspect of the Riq to a whole new level. Complex finger and jingle rolls and combinations and rapid changing between different playing positions are two trademarks of the new style. Check out recordings of Glen Velez to hear how the riq was first used extensively outside its traditional context.

The Riq is also getting more and more popular in contemporary interpretations of Early European music.

Learn to play the Riq

you can check the riq tutorial video below, or visit the riq lesson. Pete Lockett and Randy Gloss also have some free tutorials on their websites. Check out David’s instructional DVDs for the Riq below.

Riq Videos

Simon Shaheen and Michel Merhej

beautiful examples of Tunisian Riq playing

Glen Velez with his wife Lori

David playing a Riq solo

Frame Drum video podcast with Mehmet Akatay on Riq

Instructinal basic riq video

Advanced Riq DVD

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