Group 1: Double-skinned (double-headed) drums

Rahmani class

The rahmani class takes its name from the main instrument in this group: the rahmani. Among the characteristics of this group is the fact that all the instruments have two skins, one at each opening at the ends of the cylindrical body. It is also characterized by its capability to be'tuned' - i.e. the player can control the degree of the skin's tautness by tightening the ropes that tie the two skins onto the body of the instrument.

The ways of beating the skin are diverse in this group. Some are beaten by a stick on both skins, others are beaten by a stick on one skin and by the hand on the other; a third is beaten by both hands on both skins.

The diversity of sizes in this group is related to the function of the instrument in the genre. The function also determines the instrument's name. The first group of double-skinned drums which belongs to the rahmani class consists of the following instruments:

1. Rahmani 2. Rahmani tawil 3. Ranna 4. Kasir 5. Kasir qasir 6. Kasir mufaltah 7. Mirwas

1. Rahmani

The rahmani is considered the most important rhythmic instrument in Oman's traditional music. It is found in most of the Sultanate's regions and districts and is one of the most important instruments in Omani funun. Therefore, it can be considered a 'symbol of Omani music'. The rahmani plays the role of the rhythmic base - i.e. it provides the main element of the rhythm. Thus, its sound should be deep and full compared with the other accompanying rhythmic instruments. The same type of instrument can be called kasir depending on its musical function. Whereas the rahmani forms the rhythmic fundament, the kasir is usually used for embellishment and ornamentation. Thus, the sound of the rahmani has to be deeper and heavier than that of the kasir. In Dhofar, the rahmani is sometimes called the mahga.

The rahmani is played in a manner according to the type of fann and on the region where it is used. The rahmani participates in many Omani funun such as saber dances and marine songs as well as in entertainment genres (for men and women) and in music for social events.

2. Rahmani tawil ('long' rahmani)

The rahmani tawil is not as widely used as the rahmani and is not common to all parts of the Sultanate.Because of its length, a sound can be achieved which is heavier than the rahmani and thus its rhythm is given depth. The rahmani tawil is beaten on one skin only because of its length and it is often carried vertically. It can be found in the zamr genre of Wilayat Dhank or in the maidan genre.

3. Ranna

The ranna lends a third layer to the rhythmical texture of the rahmani and the kasir. The ranna has been described as being 'in the middle, in size and sound, between the kasir and the rahmani'. However, on comparing some genres, it can be concluded that the term ranna is in fact also used for instruments whose diameter is even larger than that of the rahmani. In this case it produces a sound that is ar-rahmani. Thus it emphasizes the elements of the base rhythm through its strong resonance. The ranna is used, for example, in the zar and the aiyala genres. In the wahhabiya genre, on the other hand, it can be seen that a ranna is middle-sized between the rahmani and the kasir. In this case, the ranna tends to assume the musical function of a kasir.

Thus it can be concluded that the use of the ranna can vary according to the diversity of the genre or the region using it.

4. Kasir

The kasir is smaller in size than the rahmani and thus produces a high-pitched or strident sound when compared to the rahmani. The relationship between the rahmani and the kasir is very close and they are usually seen together because one complements the other. For example, if the rhythm is ternary, the rahmani takes the stronger part while the kasir takes the other weak parts. This complementary relationship between the rahmani and the kasir is present in most Omani funun e.g. in the razha, the midema, the hambura, the shubbaniya amongst others.

The kasir, like the rahmani, is also beaten with hand or stick.

5. Kasir qasir (short kasir)

The kasir al-qasir is almost half the size of the kasir. Usually it is beaten with a stick, but sometimes with both hands, accompanied by singing. The kasir al-qasir is used, for example, in the aiyala genre in the Dhahirah region.

6. Kasir mufaltah (flat kasir)

Although the diameter of the kasir al-mufaltah is similar to that of the kasir al-qasir, or of the kasir, it produces the most strident (high-pitched) sounds. This is due to its short length; almost half the length of the kasir al-qasir and thus one quarter of the kasir's length. The kasir al-mufaltah is mostly used to embellish the rhythm which is seen in the aiyala genre of the Dhahirah where the players compete while playing the kasir al-mufaltah in raising it up in one hand and beating it with a stick by the other hand, as if wanting to draw attention to their music.

7. Mirwas

The mirwas is used in Dhofar and is the region's smallest drum when compared with the mahgar drum and kasir. It is mainly used in the bara and the sharh genres. The mirwas player is an essential element in the groups that perform these genres, such as the bin Taufiq group in Salalah, and bin Shamsa group in Mirbat. The player holds the mirwas in one hand and plays on it with the other. The holding hand can participate in playing lightly with the index finger in order to fill and embellish the rhythm. This is similar to the technique of playing the mirwas in other Arabian Gulf states and in Yemen.

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