The DAF, also called def, duff, deff, defi, defli or dap, is a large frame drum of the Persian tradition used (like the zarb) to accompany Iranian music, but which is also widespread (without its rings) of the Middle East in particular in Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan to Siberia via Central Asia. It is probably at the origin of the Arab-Andalusian tar widespread in the Maghreb and which reached medieval Europe. It still survives in Portugal and Spain (as well as Brazil and Guatemala) under the name of adufe, but also pandero or pandeiro.
The daf is also related to the riqq, (equipped with cymbalettes), from which it differs only in size and type of bell. It should not be confused with the bendir, smaller and deeper, which has a timbre of gut strings stretched against the skin, nor with the tar, equipped with cymbalettes, nor with the doyre, smaller, with a more massive frame and the least number of rings of larger size.
The terms ” duff ” or “deff” refer to both the daf in some Asian countries and an Arab-Andalusian version of the adufe drum.
The daf consists of a wooden frame on which is glued an animal skin, to which are sometimes added garlands of metal rings (or bells) to provide ringing. There are different sizes; The largest percussion (60 to 80 cm in diameter) is played by men in spiritual rituals and medium-sized percussion (30 to 40 cm) can be played by women and is often confused with the doyre.
A DAF has six parts:
Persian playing a drum on frame; painting of the Chehel Soutoun Palace in Isfahan, XVIIcentury .
It is played either sitting or standing. The daf is held vertically on the left hand and struck with the right hand (flat or pointed) in the center, the fingers of the right hand at the edge closest to you, and the fingers of the left hand at the edge where they hold the instrument. The rings can then be played by leaning forward or backward the instrument, for the slap against the skin, and it can also be blown up in the air, holding it or not, for the ringing alone. The game is very complex and quite physical. There are specific rhythms for the daf.
In Iran and Kurdistan, Sufis use it during the ritual of dhikr (spiritual chant) and the Kurdish worship of Yarsan and Al-e Haqq. It has recently been included in Persian classical music, notably by the Kamkar Ensemble.