: 68 cm,
Ha : 48,5 cm
des musiques arabes et méditerranéennes,
I was five
years old when I heard a tbal for the first time. It was during
a party at our house on the occasion of my little brotherís circumcision.
I looked at this instrument with some astonishment since I was
a city dweller and was used to listening to urban music played
on totally different stringed and percussion instruments that
were played by many of the musicians in my family. The sound of
the tbal seemed rather vulgar to me because it was meant to be
played outdoors. To the ears of the little urbanite, it seemed
to make a lot of "noise" and its beats filled the surrounding
air. They were so loud, in fact, that I felt them right to my
core. I can safely say that I was very impressed. Later, this
impression got even stronger when I visited the Island of Jerba
(southern Tunisia) where I attended a wedding at which there was
a tabbal (tbal player) who carried his instrument by the middle
strung around his neck. I then understood that the tbal was actually
many different drums and that there is an infinite variety of
them. The most impressive is, undoubtedly, the Jerba tbal that
can be distinguished by the national flag painted on its body.
Today, I am a music student trained to see things differently
and able to grasp the beauty and wealth of sound that the tabbals
give us during their very special improvisations on this instrument.
Lastly, in contrast to my personal impressions, I would like to
give you some historical and technical details about this instrument.
originated in Egypt during the Old Kingdom (2850 - 2160 BC) where
it was part of the cult of Isis. The first drums were developed
in the Far East for religious rituals and court entertainment.
The instrument varied from one region to another. The tbal that
we find in Tunisia even exists in Eastern Europe, in the East
and the Far East. It belongs to the family of membranophones and
is made from a skin stretched by cords on each end over a cylindrical
wooden body 680 mm in diameter and 485 mm high. The instrument
is played with two sticks. One is quite large and slightly curved
and plays the down beat. The other, which is thinner, produces
the weaker beats. The tbal player almost never sits down. The
tbal is mainly used to play folk music for weddings and circumcisions
on the Island of Jerba (in southern Tunisia). The wonderful thing
about the Jerba tbal is the Tunisian flag painted on the body.