The riq instrument is a type of tambourine used as a traditional instrument in Arabic music. The Riq instrument is an important instrument throughout the Arab speaking world as well as countries such as Greece.  The riq instrument is used in folk music in the Middle-Eastern countries, Turkey and Greece. It commonly accompanies the popular middle eastern hand drum the Darbukah.

By the way, it can also be spelled as "riq, riqq, rik, daf, tef or reqq". The playing techniques of the riq are similar to tambourine. 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.

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Structure of Riq

The riq instrument in ancient times was made out of wooden frame, jingles and a thin, translucent head made of fish or goat skin but in the modern times people have been using more modern materials such as aluminium, it can also be decorated with beautiful mosaics or mother of pearl. It is between 20 and 25 cm in diameter. It has ten pairs of small cymbals (about 4-6 cm in diameter), mounted in five pairs of slits. The skin of a fish or young goat is glued on and tightened over the frame, which is about 6 cm deep. The animal skinned riq instrument models have a natural and warm sound. But the skin head is sensitive to humidity and needs to be protected carefully. In Egypt the riq is usually 20 cm wide; in Iraq it is slightly larger. In Turkey the frame can be between 20 to 25 cm wide.

It can be said that riq instrument is a type of tambourine that is rapidly gaining popularity among both beginners and professional music lovers.

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How To Play and Technique Of The Riq

While Riq instrument look like a Tambourine the playing techniques on the instrument is very different. Players can use their fingers, hand slaps, tapping on the jingles, shaking the Riq instrument in a back and forward or twisting motion and hitting the rim of the drum with the palm of the hand and his need for freedom of movement necessitates that he stand up.

Students of the instrument are required to master the technical problems imposed by the timbre of the membrane and the jingles, both separately and in combination; a side from developing a virtuoso technique they also need to learn the many rhythmic cycles and the techniques of modifying them through creative invention. 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. 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.


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