“…Sagats are tiny metallic finger cymbals and are also known as zills…” 

Forat Fadil

Sagats or Sajats are brass finger cymbals around 1½ to 2 inches in diameter (larger cymbals of up to twice that diameter exists and are called Tura). They are worn on the thumb and the 3rd finger of each hand using stretchy bands. Sagats are sometimes called by their Turkish name “zills”.

Sagats are very popular among Raqs Sharqi professionals (belly dancers) as they beautifully accent and add color to other percussion instruments in the rhythm section. For this reason, countless YouTube videos exist on finger cymbal technique and performance.

Sagats are tiny metallic finger cymbals and are also known as zills. Although they’ve gained quite some popularity as part of belly dancing, the instrument is also used in other genres of Egyptian music.

A set of sagats consists of four cymbals, two for each hand. Modern sagats come in a range of sizes, the most common having a diameter of about 5 cm (2 in). Different sizes and shapes of sagats will produce sounds that differ in volume, tone, and resonance. Sagats can be played in several ways, to produce either ringing tones or a harsh “clack” sound.

Modern performers use elastic to secure the sagats, one to the thumb and one to the middle finger of each hand. Professional sagats have two slots to allow the threading of the elastic through the zills, whereas cheaper versions (including tourist versions) have only one hole.

Makers of sagats commonly use brass rather than the bronze used for larger cymbals, but they may also employ many other alloys. They may plate the sagats in order to give them a silvery color or a brighter surface. Performance sagats vary in appearance and may be shiny, dull, plain, or engraved.

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