Type of Instrument:
Macedonia – tapan, tupan, topan; Bulgaria – tapan; East Serbia – tupan, bubanj;
There is a hypothesis that the tapan was known yet in the neolith period. According to some documents, it was familliar to the oldest civilizations. There are old drawings in Mesopotamia from the third century b.c., drawings on the Egyptian graves, Indian sculptures, which confirm its role in those areas at least two tousend years b.c.
In Macedonia there are some midle-age (between XIV and XVI century) wallpaintings with drawings of tapan-players and other musicians.
Shape and Basic Parts:
An empty cylinder with leather stretched on both its sides. The leather is mostly goat, lamb or calf. The cylinder ring is made of nut-wood; its obesity is about 5 mm. There is also an leather belt attached to the cylinder, wich is aimed for holding the instrument while the player strikes it.
The player strikes the membrans using “kukuda” (fat pipe-shaped stick made of nut-wood with 440 mm lenght) and “prachka” (thin stick made of dogwood, same lenght as the “kukuda”).
Size and Types:
golem tapan (big drum) – diameter: 700 – 800 mm or 500-550 mm;
mal tapan – tapanche (small drum) – diameter: 300-350 mm;
Thanks to the sticks (the kukuda in the right and the prachka in the left hand) which strike the leather attached to the drum’s cylinder. This playing technique is probably inherited from the Orient.
The sonority and pitch level depends on the diametar, tension, obesity and waterproof of the membrane (leather). The finer, thiner and more elastic is the leather, the richer are the pitches.
Function in Performing:
In the past this drum was not only a rhytm foundation of the songs and dances, but also an instrument that accompanied many collective works or marching. It was also took part in some relegious rituals. Thanks to the tapan the bad spirits were sprouted, people comunicated with gods’ and spirits’ ancestors, or the trance situation was caused. The tapan was also a kind of a signal means.
The tapan’s primary function in the macedonian folk tradition: it is a rhytm supporting pillar of the folk songs and dances.
Role in the Instrumental Ensembles:
In the past: in the ensemble with pair of zurlas, or with gaida.
Today: takes part in different bigger ensembles which include also some new instruments of manufactured production.
re-published from MMC