Tying Things Together: Membranophone Lacing Patterns

On many drums, lacing is used to attach the head/s to the body. One way of describing lacing techniques is by the visual pattern they produce. The darabukka can be described as displaying a complex, ‘web-like’ pattern of lacing. An ‘interlocking Y’ pattern is seen on the dholak. The donno has an ‘I’ pattern. The kendhang ciblonrebana, and sogo, respectively, use ‘Y’, ‘V’ and ‘X’ lacing patterns.

A further design matter to take into consideration for drums such as these is how the lacing makes contact with the membrane/s. If the lacing is threaded through holes punched into the membrane itself, it is said to use ‘direct lacing.’ Of the drums pictured below, the darabukka and sogo are examples of drums with direct lacing. The other four drums use ‘indirect lacing.’ On such drums as these, the membranes are first stretched tightly over and attached to stiff hoops, and the lacing is then threaded around these hoops.

(by Roger Vetter)