Bookmark and Share   | 
See Anthea's online videos on how to play Finger Cymbals (for Beginners)

Finger Cymbals - Zills - Patterns for Beginners (continued):

Zaghareet! Magazine (July/Aug 2010)
by Anthea (Kawakib)

Let’s Decorate!           
   I want to introduce a couple of finger cymbal decorations that spice up your cymbal playing. I don’t mean coloring your cymbals or sewing beads on.... I mean fancy decorations that you play!   
   Obviously, these decorations are something you add AFTER you are comfortable changing patterns and staying on the beat. Otherwise, they’ll only add to the mess. I’m talking about “the Flip” and “Triplets” (not “Triples” - but you knew that, of course).    
The Flip
   The Flip is the easier of the two so we’ll start with that. It’s really a faster Roll (see Rolls in the Zaghareet article from July/Aug 2008; demonstrated at youtube.com/DanceEternal - first clip in the Video Playlist). So instead of four strokes (HhHh) per beat like a Roll, now the four strokes only take a half or a quarter of the beat, depending on your music tempo.  That’s really fast!

 Figure 1 illustrates how Flips compare to Rolls, below:
                    cymbal zill patterns

You can start or end the Flip on any beat, but I usually hook it to the first or last beat of the measure as you see in the illustration.

If that’s too fast, try a slower tempo and only count “1 + 2 +” etc. and leave out the little “a”s - as illustrated in Figure 1a, below:
                    finger cymgal patterns zills
Triplets, or, How To Impress Your Musician Friends  
   Triplets cause more confusion in the bellydance world than anything I’ve ever seen. You may have heard the terms “Triplet shimmy”, “3-quarter shimmy”, and the “gallop” finger cymbal pattern that people mistakenly call “triplets”.ALL of these examples may or may not (depending on who’s doing them) be actual triplet-timing.
If you call yourself doing a triplet either shimmying or playing cymbals and you’re really not, well... it’s a dead giveaway that you’re um, clueless. So let me clue you in right now!

   As you may remember from the second how-to-play article (ZAGHAREET! Sep/Oct 2008) or video clip #2, Triples are the cymbal pattern most often used by bellydancers. In contrast, Triplets are seldom heard!  Probably because most of us don’t waltz very much, so we’re not that familiar with 3/4 timing.  But visually, you can definitely SEE the difference, in Figure 2, below:
                    cymbals zills triplets 3s

Triplets are the only time that I alternate starting hands.  Look at the top rhythm (Triplets) in Figure 2 - you can see that underneath the numbers (the beat), sometimes the Dominant hand plays, sometimse the Non-dominant hand plays. Then look at the Triples (bottom rhythm), and see that the Dominant hand is always underneath the numbers - the Dominant hand always plays on the beat. Not so in Triplets!
   My last ‘how-to’ play finger cymbals video clip (#7) demonstrates both Flips and Triplets.
...And Then, A Challenge!
   After all these articles and videos, I want to see how you’ve been doing!  If you’re game, I have a challenge for you. I’ll upload myself doing a short and easy Finger Cymbal Solo choreography - with no music - and in the next article give you instructions on what finger cymbal patterns to play with it. All the cymbal patterns will be ones that we’ve gone over both in these articles and in the online video clips. The choreography will be yours to perform, just include credit if you can.
   It’ll be like doing a dance puzzle!  And, if you want to, you can upload a video of yourself doing it (or just parts of it) and let me know - I’ll even give you private feedback if you like.   
Keep on playing!

Video PLAYLIST: How to play Finger Cymbals while bellydancing: Youtube.com/DanceEternal

Back to Articles