The antiquity of daf, with the Pahlavi name dap, goes to pre-Islamic ages. Persian literature shows us the importance of this Persian frame drum in Persian Sufi music. Daf was considered a spiritual drum played in khanghahs of Iran, particularly Kurdistan. It should be mentioned that similar frame drums with similar names are played in some other countries such as daf in India, tef in Turkey, duf in Arabic countries and dap in Uyghuristan of China.
Thanks to some famous daf players, daf integrated into Persian art music and it became the second national drum of Iran. The chief national drum of Iran is tonbak (the Persian goblet drum).
Today daf is used in all genres of music in Iran and in this article I will give a brief description of different daf-s used in different genres of Iranian (Persian) music.
Solo-Daf: A kind of daf that is used in solo performances. It should have a very strong sound and its jingles should have a clear sound. A daf soloist should be able to show her/his finger patterns by this solo-daf easily.
Studio-Daf: A kind of daf that its skin is not so sensitive of humidity changes. A studio-daf player should not be worry of the change of the tune of the skin of her/his daf during the recording.
Orchestra-Daf: A kind of daf with not a very strong sound. It should be mentioned that daf has generally a strong sound and if the sound of daf is very strong, like solo-daf, then the orchestra-daf player should be always worry of her/his drums sound. A strong-sounded daf may kill the orchestra’s sound. An orchestra-daf should have a warm and soft sound.
Bass-Daf: A kind of daf with a bass sound (its size is larger and its skin is thicker).
Treble-Daf: A kind of daf with a treble sound. This kind of daf may be used in winter also.
Ring-Daf: A kind of daf with a thin skin and lots of jingles.
Summer and Winter Daf: The skin of summer-daf is not covered on its frame tightly, while the skin of winter-daf is covered on its frame so tightly.
Remark: A good ensemble of different daf-s may use different daf-s such as solo-daf, bass-daf, treble-daf and ring-daf.
Zakariya Yousefi, Daf with its Different Applications, Magham Musical Monthly, Vol. 3, Page 88, 2003.