Group 2: Single-skinned drums
The single-skinned drum group is divided into three
The musundu class is characterized by the fact that
a single skin is fitted to a long conical body. Furthermore,
the individual instruments differ from each other
according to their rhythmic function within a particular
The skin is fitted by wooden wedges around the wider
side of the musundu. Here, the player controls the
tightening of the skin to prepare it for playing either
by heating it or by the use of the suhha, a substance
whose components - dates, grease and ashes - are kneaded
together until they turn into a paste which is applied
onto the membrane. The musundu's body is made from
wood, either from a part of a tree that is hollowed
from the inside, or from a number of strips of wood
that are glued together to form the required conical
body. Like the rahmani and the kasir, the musundu
is beaten either with a stick or with the hands. Its
sound is strong and heavy because usually bull or
cow skins (and sometimes camel skins) are used to
The African name, musundu, signifies the origin of
this instrument. It is mainly used in genres that
evolved during the historical interaction between
Oman and East African coasts.
The musundu class consists of the following:
1. musundu tawil (long musundu)
2. musundu qasir (short musundu)
3. musundu lewa
4. musundu at-tanbura
5. musundu raqs az-zinug
This is the longest
instrument of its class and most players prefer to have
the musundu tied to their waist by a belt which allows
for playing with both hands. The player puts the musundu
between his legs as if mounting a horse.
2. Musundu qasir
This is like the musundu tawil but smaller in size.
It is used in the midema genre or in the lewa.
This type of musundu is used in the lewa genre only.
The body of the drum is very large, so it rest on
the floor on its base, or stands on legs. The body
has the form of a barrel and consists of a number
of strips of wood. It is beaten with two sticks and
during a lewa performance it is always in the centre
of the music group.
The body of the musundu at-tanbura is completely
different from all the others in its class, in that
it is relatively short. The diameter of the skin area
is comparatively large so that its strongly conical
form tapers rapidly to a rather pointed shape.
It is beaten with one stick and one hand; a piece
of rubber sometimes being used to protect the skin.
Sometimes in the tanbura genre, four of these musundus
are used at the same time depending on the different
rhythm functions required by the musical structure.
Musundu funun raqs az-zinug
This musundu has a wide body and looks like the musundu
al-lewa but is bigger in size. The player beats it
while sitting as the musundu stands on its wooden
body. It is used, for instance, in funun raqs az-zinug
It is the longest type of the musundu class and the
player can only beat it in a standing position. It
is not beaten with a stick but with both hands. It
is the most important rhythmic instrument in the maidan
genre in addition to the rahmani, the kasir and the
The duff class is characterized by the fact that
the bodies of the instruments that belong to it all
have round wooden frames of different sizes. One if
its sides is covered with skin. Here, the function
of the instrument and its relation to the genre plays
the most important role in manufacturing the instrument,
concerning the size or the addition of any other features
such as bells and copper cymbals.
This class represents the close relationship between
Oman and the culture of the Arab Peninsula and Islam
also, where the duff always played a vital role in
the ancient Arab's life.
The duff class consists of the following:
1. Sama (tar, duff)
2. Duff zu l-galagil
3. Duff saghir (small duff)
The sama is also called
the tar or the duff al-kabir. The diameter of its round
wooden frame is about 40cm
and sheep, cow or deer skin is tightened to the frame
in a unique way: the skin is actually sewn onto the
wooden frame. It covers the complete outside of the
drum and part of it is pulled inside the frame as well.
It is usually used in large collective celebrations.
It is widely used in many places in the Sultanate
such as Dhofar, the Dhahirah and the Batinah.
The player holds the sama in one hand in front of
his chest and beats it with the palm of the other
hand. When he wants to embellish the rhythm, he raises
it up as if to draw the attention of the crowd to
2. Duff zu l-galagil
All the specifications and characteristics of the
sama apply to the duff zu l-galagil but with a slight
difference. The duff zu l-galagil contains small bells
that are fixed onto the round wooden frame of the
duff so it can also be called the sama zu l-galagil.
These bells add special colour to the sound of the
duff zu l-galagil that distinguishes it from the sama.
3. Duff saghir (small duff)
duff sager differs from the sama and the duff zu l-galagil
not only in size (its diameter ranges from 20 - 30 cm)
but also from the fact that it contains metal cymbals
that are fitted inside its wooden frame.
The number of cymbals ranges from five to nine pairs.
It is similar, to a great extent, to the riqq, that
is used in many Arab countries. The duff saghir is
used in the bara and the sharh genres in Dhofar and
it can also be seen in many funun an-nisa throughout
C. Baz class
The baz class is distinguished from the others by
a special shape. The body of the instrument looks
like a bowl, the open part of which is covered by
skin. There is only one instrument of this class,
known as the quta.
The skin is fixed onto the quta by ropes that are
placed around its body. Sometimes, when the body is
made from pottery or metal, the skin is fixed directly
onto it. In other Arab countries, this instrument
is called tabl-al-baz. It is beaten with a piece of
rubber or with a thin stick. This instrument is used
in the children's convoy in the qaranqashu genre.
It is noteworthy that the quta is similar to the naqqarat
(kettledrum) in which two drums are used, one thicker
than the other, and beaten with a stick. The naqqarat
were the predecessors of certain large percussion
instruments in the Western orchestra, namely, the
Timpani (Italy) or Pauke (Germany).