An Apprenticeship in Uzbek Doira

Sherwood Chen - Posted on 13 January 2010

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Master artist Abbos Kosimov and apprentice Tara PandeyaAbbos Kosimov has been a participant with dancer and apprentice Tara Catherine Pandeya in ACTA's 2009 Apprenticeship Program in an apprenticeship in Uzbek doira. Their apprenticeship focused on over a dozen doira rhythms and the accompanying dances, reinforcing the connection between Uzbek percussion and dance. The apprenticeship also allowed Pandeya to develop proficiency in interpreting doira rhythms and understanding Uzbek music composition and improvisation, reinforcing her studies with master dancers in Xinjiang Art University (Urumqi), and in Berlin and New York.

Trained from age ten with Ustad Tuychi Inagomov, Kosimov is one of few honored artists who have been officially recognized by the Uzbek head of state. Bearing the same illustrious title as Inagomov, Abbos arrived to the United States in 2005 having performed alongside artists including Zakir Hussain, Giovanni Hidalgo, Simon Shaheen, and Hassan Hakmoun at the World Music Institute.

The doira is a frame drum with brass rings made from cow or horse hide that is used to accompany both popular and classical music from Iran, the Balkans, and many Central Asian countries such as Tajikistan, East Turkestan (Uighur Autonomous Xinjiang, China), and Uzbekistan. Typically, the doira is played one-on-one with a solo dancer (in the same way Kosimov and Pandeya perform together - see photos below) or within a large ensemble or community gathering of drums. Regarded as one of the most ancient percussive instruments from Central Asia, it was originally played only by women during shamanic rituals. 

Of the doira, Kosimov notes, "Uzbek culture and national identity is deeply rooted in its music and dance traditions. As such, doira paired with dance has grown with the country over time and evolved to play a deeper role in reflecting Uzbek history, religion, heritage, and cultural traditions... Doira is my life and I cannot live without it."

In Uzbekistan, the doira is supported as a national art and it can be heard at most festivities, rites of passage, seasonal celebrations, and religious ceremonies. This instrument in particular has always been an essential staple and inseparable element of traditional Uzbek dance because its specific rhythm patterns serve as a foundation for Uzbek dance vocabulary and play an integral role in expressing storytelling within choreography.

In the above video, shot at the Knights of Columbus studio in San Anselmo where the apprenticeship at times took place, Kosimov plays the doira and the handheld two-piece percussive instrument called qayraq, each piece made of metal and stone respectively. Similar to Spanish castanets, they accompany doira and other melodic instruments, and are used by tradtional dancers in the Uzbek region of Khorezm. Kosimov improvises in several rhythms on doira including 6/8, 7/8 and 4/4 for his solo, all rhythms which are the most popular foundations for traditional Uzbek doira.

Further in the video, his simultaneous playing of multiple drums has its foundation in innovations from the mid-20th century as a form of virtuosic showmanship and competition between doira artists, demonstrating their technique and athletic skill. 

Special thanks to Tara Pandeya in informing this post.

Master artist Abbos Kosimov and apprentice Tara Pandeya

ACTA's Comment Disclaimer
wow, I am really inspired and impressed by the profound drumming on that video. I like oriental music, and play various percussion instruments myself. I knew about the Daf, a Persian framedrum quite similar to the Doira (but it´s larger in diameter and has a plastic skin) this is very interesting to see, the variety of techniques / strokes used, and to hear the wide variety of sounds. Thank you very much for letting this cultural exchange happen and posting this to the web :-) Tara, you must have felt lucky to be given the chance ? he´s really a master from what I can tell ;-) best regards, Philip from Munich


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