Tombak/Tonbak/Donbak, classified as a percussion instrument, has been an important part of traditional Iranian music for a long time.
Tombak’s sound is created through consecutive and skillful hitting of the drumhead using the fingers of both hands. Tombak’s middle “neck” is placed securely on the leg of the player as he/she sits down on a chair or the ground. There are a plethora of techniques available for Tombak players, and this has made the instrument versatile and sonically diverse. Techniques include: Tom, Bak, Pelangs, and Riz just to name a few. Tombak is undoubtedly among the most complex and layered percussion instruments in the world.
Persian Tombak (also known as Dombak or Zarb) is classified as a goblet drum. A few of the similar instruments can be mentioned: Darbukah in Turkey and Arab countries and Zir-baghali in Afghanistan are among them.
Tombak is created out of a singular piece of wood. It is divided into two parts of body and amplifier. The body end, which is bigger in opening, is covered by a piece of skin, typically lamb, goat, cow, or camel, and the amplifier end, which is smaller, is left open. In the past, Tombak used to be made from wood, ceramic, and sometimes metal. Today it is made exclusively out of wood. It is made in different forms to suit the needs of “Zurkhaneh”, solo performances, and orchestras. The diameter on the body’s opening varies between 20 and 28 centimeters.
Online Tombak lessons by Behzad Mirzayi and Kaveh Sarvarian at Rhythmitica Academy