From darbuka to dümbelek : the Turkish goblet-shaped drum and the construction of difference




Ragheb, Nicholas Joseph

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This report examines the linguistic, physical, and social construction of the goblet-shaped drum in recent Turkish history. Following recent trends in organological scholarship towards a more socially situated analysis of musical instruments, I examine the role of the goblet-shaped drum as a mediator within large complex webs of interaction and social significance. Drawing on theoretical frameworks for understanding the production of difference set forth by Ruth Solie, my analysis explores the modalities of language, visual and aural representation and positionality. In order to examine the specific process of “othering” that undergird these processes, I supplement this theoretical framework with the concept of “articulation” developed by Laclau and Hall. My analysis begins with a review of the popular and musicological literature on the drum and a discussion of the way in which different names such as darbuka and dümbelek are used to construct social groups defined by notions of gender, urbanity, and professionalism. I follow this with an examination of the workflows and techniques involved in the production of two types of goblet-shaped drums revealing how these processes shape the identity of the artisans and entrepreneurs involved in the production process. Finally, I discuss the representation of the instrument in Turkish television documentaries and the Internet revealing the role of the drum in the production of a Turkish modernist narrative. I argue that while these processes may appear isolated when viewed independently, an organological approach reveals important connections between these different mechanisms for the production of difference and issues such as the masculinization of the darbuka playing profession may be more effectively engaged through an understanding of these connections.




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