Raquy Danziger: A Dumbek Goddess

Photo courtesy of Artist

Tom Tom Magazine was lucky enough to catch this incredibly talented dumbek player in between her retreats and performances with the Egyptian King of Dumbek Said El Artist and his Dumbek Orchestra. Meet Raquy.

Tom Tom Magazine: Hello! For those of us who don’t know, what is a dumbek drum? Can you tell us a little bit about where it’s from, what kind of music it is used to play.

Raquy Danziger: The dumbek is the goblet drum played all over the Middle East.  Its used in folk music, cabaret music, and pop music.  There are also percussion ensembles where the dumbek is the solo instrument.

TTM: The dumbek is not as popular in America, as say playing a regular drum kit. How did you become interested in the dumbek? Where did you study?

RD: I became interested in the dumbek while living in Tel Aviv, Israel.  I’m pretty much self taught.  I’ve copied techniques and ideas from many famous drummers like Said El Artist from Egypt and Missirly Ahmet from Turkey.  Just in the past year I’ve started going to Istanbul where I study the Turkish split hand technique with Bunyamin Olguncan.

TTM: Are there many women dumbek players? Has being a women affected the way you are received? Or has that not been an issue?

RD: There aren’t many women dumbek players, but I’m seeing more and more.  Actually many of my students are women.  Especially in Egypt and Turkey. They love the fact that I’m a woman playing the dumbek and put me on television all the time.

TTM: It seems you travel a lot for your art. Where has dumbek playing taken you in your travels? Describe some of your most interesting experiences on the road as a working musician.

RD: I’ve been going to Egypt for the past six years where I get to perform as a soloist with the Egyptian King of Dumbek Said El Artist and his Dumbek Orchestra.  It’s an incredible thrill and honor to perform with them.  I get to teach the troupe my compositions and I also get to play a duet with Said El Artist.  We performed at the Cairo. For the last year I also started going to Istanbul Turkey where I’m learning the incredible Turkish Split Hand technique. I get to practice there with some of the greatest drummers in the world and perform.  I’m in love with Istanbul as a city and the music scene is incredible.

TTM: It seems that this is a very traditional instrument, but you have written your own pieces. Do you consider your work to be in the traditional vein, or are you taking it in a new direction?

RD: Many of my compositions are based on traditional techniques and rhythms, but I like to take them in a new direction.  I also make up some things that are totally original.

TTM: Who are you favorite drummers?

RD: My teacher Bunyamin Olguncan from Turkey and Zohar Fresco from Israel.

Exclusive Tom Tom Magazine Interview by: FonLin Nyeu, a member of Dragons of Zynth & founding member of Chica Vas an all female percussion group made up of Brooklyn’s finest lady musicians. She believes in the healing power of the drums.

Right now Raquy and the Cavemen are recording our next CD, to be released spring / summer 2010!

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