Sagat are the tiny metallic finger cymbals and are also known as zil. 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 zill, 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 sagat in order to give it a silvery color or a brighter surface. Performance sagats vary in appearance and may be shiny, dull, plain or engraved.