Zills & Percussive Moves
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The History of Finger Cymbals                      


The hypnotic, compelling custom of movements to rhythm is as ancient as mankind itself. Percussion devices, the conveyors of rhythm, were the first instruments created; integral parts of the rites of celebration, mourning and religion.

With the advent of the Bronze Age, the musical quality of metals naturally became an important tonal addition to the existing instrumentality. Derived from the Greek word "Kymbala", cymbals were the most beautiful and versatile of these rhythm accessories.

The use of cymbals actually affixed to the thumbs and middle fingers of dancers' hands was recorded as early as 500 A.D. Today, Finger Cymbals (Arabic: "Sagat" or "Sunouj;" Turkish: "Zills"; Persian: "Zang") are popularly played by dancers on both the cabaret and the concert stage. The intricate musical patterns they create and their sparkling sound quality make the cymbals indispensable to Middle Eastern music.

by Harry Saroyan

Rafi'ah playing zils
Rafi'ah loves playing zils and has been playing them for over 25 years. She plays them as a creative musical instrument, a part of her body and an extension of her hands and fingers. With a strong foundation in zill technique, a keen ear for the music and her own signature zil style, her zills embellish the dance and music, creating beautiful visual images and musical patterns while switching smoothly between playing dynamically, hypnotically and softly with dramatic accents and pauses.
"Zill Drills and Percussive Moves" 
workshop description.-For all bellydance styles (tribal, cabaret, fusion), solo & groups. For anyone who wants to be more proficient, creative and musical in their zill playing and percussive movement skills.
 Using Rafi'ahs mirroring technique (playing a zill pattern then recreating in the body with various types of movement), we will use different arm and hand positions, isolations, shimmies, fluid moves and footwork while playing to melodious music, drum music, and without music. Sycopation, counterpoint and types of zill sounds will be explored according to individual and class levels.
  And don't worry, we will alternate zill playing and non-zill playing ( movement without zills on fingers) to avoid "zill bite"...kind of like frost bite... ;-)
 Some of material that may be covered in workshops..
*Exercises for fluid, strong hands, arms & fingers   
* Zill patterns & listening skills 
*Zill drills with isolations and percussive moves
     (locks, pops, undulations, shimmies, layering, etc.)
* Mirroring zill patterns in body through movement
                   (playing the zill pattern then dancing it)
*Getting different sounds out of your zills (ringing, clicking, clacking, etc.) and alternating them within patterns
*Using unique arm and hand positions to create beautiful visual images while playing   
*Creating interest by switching back and forth from playing consistently to pauses in playing...
*Using counterpoint & syncopation
*Mini-choreographies with zills *Footwork and movement across floor in various formations and patterns done to melodious music, drum & a cappella
*Jamming, echoing, improvisation & creating your own music




Rafi'ah zill workshops are for anyone who wants to be more proficient and creative in their zill playing....
...For all bellydancedance styles...cabaret, tribal, fusion.
..please contact Rafi'ah for private classes or a  workshop in your area...  









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