Raquy has a long music history beginning with her parents who were both Classical musicians. She grew up playing classical music. “There are pictures of me in diapers playing a violin”, so even before she was potty trained, she was playing music. Yet she couldn’t picture herself as a classical musician so she explored different musical styles and instruments while working different jobs.
“Aaah, this is for me.”
When she went to India in her 20s, she had her personal calling to drumming. She loves the mathematical aspect of drumming rhythms. “I love the whole relationship between numbers and cycles and the perfection of a cycle. And you know I really get into that. Then I just totally fell in love with the Middle Eastern music.”
Heeding that call allowed her to quit all other jobs and earn her living from drumming within one year. “I didn’t need any other job, so it was just so clear to me that ‘This is what I was made to do’.
Turkish Split Hand Technique
The dumbek, or darbuka, is a single headed goblet shaped drum usually found in the Middle East. Although Raquy plays other instruments, it is the dumbek that became her main source of income and inspiration. While perfecting her Arabic dumbek technique, she saw Turkish drummers on Youtube playing so fast it looked like a blur. So she brought her drum students on a trip to Istanbul to learn what they were doing. “We plopped ourselves in the heart of the music district”. She soon found her teacher, Bunyamin Olguncan and committed herself to learning this new Turkish Split Hand technique.
Although, Raquy was by then a very accomplished dumbek player, she came to Bunyamin as a humble student. “He’s my favorite. A lot of people in Turkey are playing really fast and really impressive. But my teacher has a beauty to every single hit and a depth that no one has, in my opinion. His playing is profound and gorgeous so I’m really happy to study with him.”
With this technique you get much more potential for speed, because it splits the hand into two. Raquy described it as a combination between playing Egyptian dumbek and Indian tabla. “With this technique you can kind of do those Indian patterns on the Dumbek.”
Raquy emphasizes that its not just about the speed, but the intricacies and the patterns. “Honestly this style is not so suitable to accompanying dancers because its so fast and so intricate. Its not like the groovy Egyptian (style that’s) easy to dance to. The Turkish technique is more of a solo virtuoso thing.”
Raquy and the Cavemen
Raquys first member of Raquy and the Cavemen was her then husband, Liron. He was a drummer in a rock band and she played her gigs as a dumbek player separately. “And then, I don’t know what happened but I got this weird instrument and we were jamming around and we came up with this thing: it was a cross between hard core heavy stuff and middle eastern. And it seemed to just really work. So we made an album, our first album – which was called ‘Dust.’ We made the album of just me and him over dubbing. Other musicians were added originally to play the music for the CD release party. However, now they’re back down to just the two of them. There performances are still just as astounding. Liron is able to play multiple instruments at the same time, including some he has made himself like the Dumset. Raquy usually plays dumbek or the kamānche and their sound is full and captivating. Both of these talented musicians have added throat singing to their repertoire which resonates multiple frequencies from one human voice.
Click here for a sample of their amazing performance.
Raquy has become so skilled and accomplished at the Dumbek that she is now one of the masters sought out by students around the world. Although she is currently living and teaching in Istanbul, she has produced a DVD & book instructional series “Dumbek Fever” that can be purchased for your learning pleasure wherever you are. However, if you are dedicated or adventuresome, you can find the “Dumbek Pimp of Istanbul” to help match students with teachers. Of course Raquy is a wonderful teacher and is also available for private or group lessons.