COVER STORY: Simone Carboni
Simone has taken Instagram by storm with his zilling and darbuka videos. Fanoos sat down with him to talk Sagat. 1. Tell us about your previous musical history. What instruments do you play? I was born on a beautiful island, Sardinia (Italy), I have always lived in a small town called Soleminis, in my family no one is a musician, but since I was a child I have strongly felt the call of the rhythm inside me , I was obsessed with the sound of any object that came into my hands. When I turned 14, a dear aunt gave me a small Djembe (West African goblet drum),the sound and quality of this instrument were very bad, but for me it was the best gift I ever received, I felt really happy and I spent my days playing with that Drum everything that was broadcast on the radio. In high school I met some guys who practiced percussion and I started to get involved with them. Every night I played with friends in the squares of my country, a local band saw me and offered me to play with them. Finally I had a rehearsal room with various percussion instruments and I started learning about reggae and ska rhythms following the style of the band. I felt very motivated and spent a lot of time practicing self-taught all the time. During my school years I took part in a percussion course dedicated to Djembe, I met a jazz drummer who taught me how to read the musical score. Over time I played in different clubs and some parties, people appreciated me a lot but for a few years I took a break with the drums to devote myself to other artistic paths, I was 27 years old, other interests and distractions, I started as a singer in some Punk and Hard Core band. On my 30th birthday I felt the call of the very strong rhythm once again, I was more mature and I thought that I wanted to seriously study an instrument and find my artistic path. I saw a video of the Turkish Grand Master Misirli Ahmet, his mastery with the darbuka enchanted me and I decided that I would totally dedicate myself to this instrument. 2. What got you interested in Sagat? In 2018 I started a collaboration with the dance group "Karalis Sisters" (American Tribal Style), it was then that I heard the zills for the first time and I fell in love with these beautiful cymbals that if I just listened without play them. In May 2021 I finally picked up the zills after a friend from the dance group showed me some combinations of Jamila Salimpour, in the same month I bought my first zills "Saroyan Turkish Delight Pro-Brass", I attended 2 lessons with 2 teachers to know the basic techniques and combinations used in dance, it was very helpful and opened a new world for me. In a few days I was able to learn the main combinations of Jamila Salimpour and after that I started creating and writing my own combinations inspired by the embellishments I performed on the darbuka. 3. What did you find challenging as you started learning and how did you overcome that? If I have to give an honest answer, I say I have never had any difficulties, for me playing I zills is very natural and fluid, I think it depends on having my fingers trained on the darbuka. 4. Any advice on picking out good sagat to use as a Dancer? Metals, size, tone? I recommend zills that are 5-6cm in diameter and weigh between 175-180 grams, brass material for a warm sound, silver also has nice sound but personally I prefer brass. From my point of view the best for dance are the "Saroyan Afghani in brass" 5. How do you recommend that dancers practice with their sagat? 1) buy a good instrument, if the zills are of poor quality The sounds will never give satisfaction. 2) Sew the elastics tightly for good control 3) Relax and breathe before and during training 4) Always use the metronome between 100 and 130 bpm (there are several apps that you can download to your phone) Train by running 3- 3-3 (takata-takata-takata) cleanly alternating open and closed touches. 5) listen to music suitable for belly dance and play over it with your zills 6. Do you believe that dancers and musicians should have different playing techniques? It depends on various factors, the musician tends to have more freedom on the technique. If you can dance in the group, of course, the technician will be simpler and more coordinated, but if the dancer is a soloist and has great skills there are no limits, there are several videos of Sahira where dances and plays so charming with an impeccable technique. 7. What are your favorite rhythms and sagat playing methods? The rhythms that I mainly use in my workouts are the Maksum and the Malfuf, so I train in 4/4 and 2/4, I always like to have a base on which to play and try to create something new simply by playing freely on the rhythm. I believe that the fundamental thing is the fact of not necessarily focusing on patterns but rather listening to the basic rhythm well and seeing how we can fit on it, obviously everything must be done with criteria so it is important to have a good knowledge of Arabic rhythms. 8. What are you hoping to improve at? With the zills I started a year ago so I consider myself a beginner, I hope to improve in everything, from the cleanliness of the sound to the speed, I would like to learn to make increasingly complex combinations and create new techniques. I like to keep the art of the Zills alive and inspire other artists to take up these jewels full of history. 9. Has playing sagat changed or improved your skills in other musical areas? It definitely helps me a lot with the darbuka, I see Darbuka and Zills alike and in a way I play them the same way, if I learn a combination with the zills I also use it on the darbuka and vice versa.