search

Djembe: More than just tones & slaps

Anyone who has ever heard a djembe played will have noticed that there are a lot of different sounds that come out of that one drum. Sometimes it’s hard to see how they are being made, especially if you’re watching an African djembe master, since their hands move so fast! The sounds range from a deep boom to a high pitched slapping sound, with various melodious sounds coming through in between. Sometimes it sounds like the drum is singing, and what a beautiful song it is.

You might also notice that any person who plays the djembe frequently will have very calloused hands. A Djembefola’s (djembe player) hands are his tools, and over time the parts that are repeatedly hitting the goat skin of the drum will callous over and become hardened. A famous Griote from Guinea, Mohammed Bangoura, has hands that are as “hard as the soles of the feet”, and that is not an exaggeration!

When you are getting started, it's best to keep it simple with the technique. There are three main sounds that can be played on a djembebasstone and slap.

djembe

The bass sound (low-pitched) is achieved by striking the drum in the middle of the skin with a heavy hand, with the fingers held together.

djembe

The tone (medium-pitched) is played with the hand on the edge of the skin, using the wrist as well as the arm to propel the hand towards the drum. The fingers should be held together, hitting the drum in the form of a “flipper”.

 

djembe

The slap (high-pitched) is technically the hardest stroke to achieve. There are many types of slap, all of which are played near the edge. Ghanaians play their slap slightly further in than the tone as shown below.

djembe

Djembe drummers from Guinea, Mali and other countries where the djembe is indigenous, slap slightly further out, with the fingers pointing as shown below.

In both cases the fingers should be completely relaxed and whipped towards the head/rim of the drum by the arm and wrist. The best way to achieve the slap is through trial and error, and as every person’s hands are different so every person will have a unique sound on the drum. http://www.drumafrica.co.uk/articles/the-djembe/

While these are the main three sounds that can be made with a djembe, variations and additions can be made. There is a music that comes through the djembe, and each is a little bit different. Have fun with it!

 

InRhythm Drumming & Rhythm Programs

Read more about our Drum Therapy & Drum Facilitator Training Programs here to find out how you can incorporate the incredible medium of drumming as a healing modality in your organisation.

Use our ENQUIRY FORM or call us on 1300 55 40 35

We look forward to hearing from you.
Tim Orgias | InRhythm

Blogs Menu

Drumming Heals Anxiety and Depression!

Drumming Heals Anxiety and Depression!

..Researchers in London have found evidence of a surprisingly effective treatment for anxiety and depression, one that even alters the inflammatory immune responses that may underlie these disorders. Check out...

Team Building: Where to Start?

Team Building: Where to Start?

When a team works together day in and day out, it can be a great idea to get out of the office and do a bit of team building. There...

Rhythm Regulates the Brain

Rhythm Regulates the Brain

We have been blown away by the transformative power of drumming and rhythm for the past 15 years and it is no wonder to us that neuroscience and psychiatrist Dr...