Raquy Danziger
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Raquy Danziger

İstanbul, Istanbul, Turkey | Established. Jan 01, 2006

İstanbul, Istanbul, Turkey
Established on Jan, 2006
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"Beat Out That Rhythm"

Raquy Danziger is hailed as one of the most popular performers, teachers and composers of Middle Eastern drumming today. This young American woman has amazed audiences worldwide with her talent.

Danziger's love of music began when she was just a baby. "There was music in my house," she says. "I played music since I was very young. My parents were classical musicians. My mother plays violin and my father plays bassoon in a classical orchestra."

Danziger was born in America and lived in New York City. Now 39, she lives in Istanbul where she is studying the Turkish split-hand drumming technique, which means splitting the hand in two -- unlike the Egyptian style where it is a split of one hand.

"It is a new style but it is very fast and difficult. The drummer needs to practise for eight hours a day because one can't do it if one doesn't practise. One of the most incredible Turkish drummers in Istanbul is my teacher, Binyamin Olguncan, who is currently with me in Egypt. It is like magic watching him play."

Danziger and Olguncan held a week-long workshop for tabla students in the Sinai desert. "Fifteen of my students were from America, Spain, Germany and England. We all went to Sinai to practise," said Danziger, who comes to Egypt once or twice a year. "I wrote special compositions for them to learn. My teacher Olguncan taught them the techniques. The Sinai desert is my favourite. It is a magical and beautiful place to practise."

On her current visit, she commanded a large percussion band in the Ewart Hall in the old American University (AUC) building in Downtown Cairo which was repeated at the new AUC campus in and the Cairo Jazz Club. The band of drummers thrilled the audiences with Danziger's exciting compositions. Danziger played the tabla and Iranian kemenche, playing some Egyptian songs on the native rababa. The duet she played with Olguncan used the new Turkish split hand technique.

Danziger tells her love story with the tabla. "Five years ago, I first started to come to Egypt. I loved the tabla. Egypt is the source of Tabla. I want to see it in its place. I also started studying Arabic. I really love to come to Egypt to have some inspiration and get connected to the people. It is very important to me," she told Al-Ahram Weekly.

She has performed here every year for the past four years, and has performed numerous times with the Egyptian drummer Said El-Artiste, who is a good friend.

"He is a tabla hero," Danziger says. "Last year I had several performances with him at the Cairo Opera House and the Citadel, and I got to play a duet with him. He has a large company and I have begun to teach them my compositions. I am so honoured that he played with me. "Afterwards, I started my own band and called it Raquy and The Cavemen. We have had some success. We have toured all over America and different countries, and we have finished our seventh album which is called Bewitched. People love our music. I have made special compositions for the table, " she adds.

Danziger has released Dumbek Instructional Kits that includes an instruction book, a DVD and CD. Dumbek Fever One is for the beginner and intermediate levels, while Dumbek Fever Two is for the advanced level. As well as Bewitched (2009), other albums she has released are Mischief (208), Naked (2006), Jordan (2005), Dust (2003), and Masmudi (2001). Dust reached the top 20 on the CMJ World Music Charts, while Jordan made it to the top 30.

Danziger says about the type of music she presents that her style is now more influenced by the Turkish style, but it has influences from Egyptian, Indian and Persian drumming. "I put all these together with my original ideas in my compositions," she says.

Danziger believes that women can play the tabla just as well as men. "I don't really understand why there are no more women tabla players. I think you needn't be very strong, but you need to be a good musician."

Each musical instrument has certain skills. "Musicians need to have good rhythm and the discipline to practise every day. Even if you are very talented, if you don't practise you won't get better."

Danziger's schedule is crowded. She will return to Istanbul for a week, after which she will be travelling to New York. Then she will tour with her band for some weeks all over the west coast of the United States, a tour that will include concerts, festivals and workshops. - Al Ahram Weekly


"Cultural fusion inspires Raquy Danziger and the Cavemen"

If the reports of anti-western sentiment in the Muslim world were all true, Raquy Danziger would need an armed guard whenever she headed off on one of her frequent jaunts to the Middle East. After all, she's everything the stereotypical Muslim fundamentalist should love to hate: a liberated young American woman of Jewish descent.

On the line from her Brooklyn home, Danziger admits that in “sexually repressed” Egypt, at least, she does attract a degree of unwanted attention on the street. More often, however, she meets with respect and generous hospitality, thanks to her facility on the dumbek, the goblet-shaped hand drum that's the primary percussion instrument in the Arabic world.

“Everyone that I'm collaborating with in the Middle East is Muslim, a religious Muslim,” she explains. “For instance, Said El Artist is the dumbek superstar of Egypt. He has a whole drumming orchestra, and pretty much every year, once or twice I go over there and perform as a soloist and with his troupe. It's a huge honour, and I get to play a duet with him. But everyone in that band is a pretty religious Muslim. We take breaks from rehearsal so that they can pray and all that stuff, and they're very, very welcoming to me, and loving and appreciative. It's just beautiful how music can bring all these different people together.”

Sometimes, Danziger adds, the gentle clashing of cultures makes for some surprising scenes. “When I'm studying in Turkey with my teacher Bí¼nyamin Olguncan, I'll usually have my yoga mat with me,” she says, laughing. “So I'll be doing my yoga and then he'll use my yoga mat to pray. It's kind of a funny dynamic.”

Danziger's full of amusing stories about her Middle Eastern travels, and her adventurous spirit carries over into the hybrid music that she makes with her somewhat strangely named percussion duo, Raquy and the Cavemen. The project began when she and her fellow drummer Liron Peled—then husband and wife—were jamming together at home.

“I was playing traditional Middle Eastern music and he was playing hard-core rock music, but we'd lived together for four years and hadn't played together at all,” she says. “One day we just started playing together, though, and it was like ”˜Wow, this kind of works!' So we just started making this music that fuses the two styles. It just happened really organically, but everyone's reaction to our music was positive, so we thought, ”˜Well, this is working; let's do more.'”

Danziger plays dumbek and kamanche, an Iranian relative of the violin; Peled's home-built drum kit allows him to play dumbek, tambourine, and frame drum simultaneously, using foot pedals and his hands. Their sound is groove-heavy and hypnotic—and probably the best testament to its power is that both Danziger and Peled love working together, even after their divorce.

“Breaking up kind of put our relationship through this filter, and only the good things came out,” says the percussion virtuoso. “So now we just have a blast—and we're best friends.” - Straight.com


Discography

Raquy Danziger- "Bal Dudak"- 2013 Raquy Danziger
Raquy And The Cavemen- "Release The Green Lover"- 2010
Raquy And The Cavemen- "Bewitched"- 2009
Raquy And The Cavemen- "Mischief"- 2008
Raquy And The Cavemen- "Naked"- 2007
Raquy And The Cavemen- "Jordan"- 2005
Raquy And The Cavemen- "Dust"-2003



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Bio

Raquy Danziger is a celebrated performer, teacher and composer known worldwide for her expertise on the dumbek, the Middle-eastern hand drum. Hailing from unlikely Western roots, Raquy has distinguished herself as a unique phenomenon and earned a place of renown in the genre. In demand on several continents, she has collaborated and performed with several of the most famous Middle Eastern drummers in the world.

Now based in Istanbul, Turkey, Raquy specializes in a style know as the Turkish Split Hand technique. Her study, practice, and perfection of this technique with her teacher Bunyamin Olguncan and other master Turkish drummers has helped her realize a mission: to incorporate what she has learned into her original music and share it with audiences and students world wide through performances, workshops and instructional materials.

Raquy has had the honor of performing several times in Egypt as a soloist with Said El Artist (The Egyptian "King of Tabla") and his drumming orchestra at the Cairo Opera House, the Alexandria Opera House, the Cairo Citadel, the historic Ewart Hall in downtown Cairo, and the Great Hall in the Bibliotheque in Alexandria. In 2005 she was the recipient of the Meet the Composer grant, which enabled her to perform her original composition with Said El Artist's orchestra in Egypt. Raquy has appeared on Good Morning Egypt, Leila Kebira, O TV, the Culture Channel, and Turkish Television, and has been interviewed on Al Jazeera.

In addition to the dumbek, Raquy also plays the twelve- string Kemenche Tarhu, a rare and exotic bowed instrument designed after the Iranian spike fiddle.   She currently studies the kemenche with Iranian kemenche master Arlsan Hazreti in Istanbul.  Raquy has composed many melodic pieces for the kemenche which she plays in her concerts and which can be heard in her albums.  She is currently compiling a book of her melodic compositions.

Raquy's infectious enthusiasm for Middle Eastern music has attracted students from around the globe. She has released three Dumbek Instructional Kits each of which includes a book, a DVD and a CD. These have helped to spread Dumbek Fever far and wide, opening new horizons for students, a number of who often perform with her as "The Messengers." Raquy hosts drumming retreats for her students in the Catskill Mountains, NY, the Sinai Desert in Egypt and Istanbul, Turkey, and taught a course in Arabic Drumming at the American University of Cairo. She has also created her own line of custom-designed dumbeks that are available through her online store - The Raquy Drum Store.

Raquy just released her first solo album, "Bal Dudak" in Aug 2013
Raquy and the Cavemens CDs include: "Masmudi"
(2001), "Dust"(2004), "Jordan" (2005) "Naked" (2007), "
Mischief", (2008), "Bewitched" (2009) and "Release the Green Lover" (2010).

Band Members