Welcome to Shirzad Sharif's Website!

Persian Bellydance Percussionist & Lutist



The Zarb (ضَرب or ضرب), also tombak, tonbak, donbak, dombak (تنپک, تنبک, دنبک، تمپک), is a goblet drum from Persia (ancient Iran). It is considered the principal percussion instrument of Persian music. The tonbak is normally positioned diagonally across the torso while the player uses one or more fingers and/or the palm(s) of the hand(s) on the drumhead, often (for a ringing timbre) near the drumhead's edge. Sometimes tonbak players wear metal finger rings for an extra-percussive "click" on the drum's shell. The instrument is also played with all ten fingers, producing rolls using all fingers and also snaps & strikes on the side of the drum that allows for complex rhythmic patterns unique to the Zarb drum amongst all percussion instruments of the world!
The tombak is a single-headed goblet drum about 43 cm in height with a 28 cm diameter head. Its shell is carved from a single block of (sometimes highly figured, knotted or marbled) wood, maybe with a carved design or geometric pattern (such as furrows, flutes, diamonds and/or spirals—it is often a costly, heirloom-type or vintage musical instrument). At the bottom the shell is somewhat thicker than at the top for strength (since the drumhead adds to the strength at the top). The shell's wall thickness is approximately 2 cm. The throat is nearly cylindrical and connects the top (body) cavity to the hollow base (the throat itself, the interior of which forms the small opening).

A sheepskin or goatskin head is stretched and secured with glue, tacks or both. The fairly wide top opening permits full bass tone as well as various treble tones (see below). Tonbaks with adjustable tuning have been produced experimentally but the head tension is normally fixed prior to performance with careful attention to the temperature and humidity. The player may heat or cool or dampen or dry the membrane to reach a desired fundamental pitch. The pitch can be raised somewhat during a performance by applying finger pressure but a variety of tapping and clicking timbres reduce overall focus on the drum's pitch. Typically, two or three clearly contrasting timbres (through varying finger placement or clacking of a ring against the drum shell) are played in an antiphonal style.



Shirzad Sharif (شیرزاد شریف) performs the Riqq ("Tambourine") and Zarb ("To Strike") drums and other customized lutes and assorted percussion instruments of the Middle East.

Shirzad was raised in an acclaimed musical family in Iran which has nurtured the likes of Legendary Tar ("Persian Lute") Grand Master Ostad Mirza Farhang Khan Sharif.

While growing up in Iran he was fortunate enough to have had a privileged life & home and throughout his teenage and adolescent life studied Persian percussion & strings under the direct tutelage of some of Iran & the United States's finest Grand Masters of Persian Classical Music & Bellydance including the world renowned Tombak (percussion) Grand Master Ostad Bahman Rajabi & Grand Master Ostad Mary Ellen Donald as well as numerous other master musicians.

Shirzad has his own unique style which he learned from his grandmother and performs one of the oldest and most authentic styles of Persian drumming which was almost extinct & was strictly within the domain of the Imperial Court Musicians & Bellydancers and Harems of Persia, Egypt and other countries Worldwide.

He has also highly customized, redesigned & re-invented his string instrument the ("Tanbur") & customized it according to his own specifications, he has since developed numerous unique styles and highly specialized techniques to accommodate his specific style of performing Persian music. This electric-acoustic instrument combines 4 very important principle Persian instruments ("Setar", "Oud", "Tar") into the original ("Tanbur").

This has allowed for the unique creation of a full bodied instrument that allows the utilization of various techniques, tones and sounds, related uniquely to each of the 4 instruments capable of utilizing either electric effects or simply being played acoustically in a concert hall setting & format.

He also performs Persian Daf, Arabic Daf (Tambourine), Tanbur, Dotar and other Persian instruments and lutes as well which he developed that consist of the Small and Big Baghdadi Tanbur (طنبور بغدادی بزرگ و کوچک) based on the teachings (زندگی و اندیشه های حکیم ابو نصر فارابی) of Hakim Abu Nasr Al-Farabi known in the West as Alpharabius which sounds like the Morrocan ("Sintir\Gimbri"), the Egyptian Oud ("Lute") and the Persian Dotar ("Lute") which was used in the Harems of Persia and other Middle Eastern Countries Worldwide for Healing Purposes and is played with a feather.

Shirzad's body of work & music is some of the most creative, authentic, innovative, progressive classically based Persian music ever heard till this day & has been breaking genres, musical boundaries & geographical borders worldwide.

He is also responsible for restoring and preserving what is known as the Persian Bellydance style called ("Reng"). An extremely elaborate art form & body of rhythms, dances & techniques largely ignored and lost through-out the ages time and time again.

His skillful presentation and comprehensive teaching technique has lead to him performing and conducting seminars at many prestigious academic institutions such as the University of Maryland, University of Utah, UCSF, San Francisco State University, UC Berkeley & UCLA.

He also has proficiency in Bellydance (Egyptian Cabaret Styles of Bellydance, Oriental Dance, Baladi Dance), Persian Court Music and Dances, Persian Belly Dance Music, Persian Authentic Music, Persian Folkloric Music, Mystical Islamic Music, Persian-Arabian Knights Battle Rhythms.

As of late Shirzad only performs Bellydance Song and Dance.


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