Group 1: Double-skinned (double-headed)
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
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:
Rahmani 2. Rahmani tawil 3. Ranna 4. Kasir 5. Kasir
qasir 6. Kasir mufaltah 7. Mirwas
The rahmani is considered
the most important rhythmic instrument in Oman's traditional
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
2. Rahmani tawil ('long' rahmani)
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.
The ranna lends a third
layer to the rhythmical texture of the rahmani and 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.
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.
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)
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
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.