Playing the Djembe

Contents

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

Getting started ................................................................................................................................................... 2 Beginner ............................................................................................................................................................. 7 Advanced ........................................................................................................................................................... 9 Master ............................................................................................................................................................. 11 Rhythms to play together ................................................................................................................................. 12 Rhythms to play alone ...................................................................................................................................... 15 Playing Solo ...................................................................................................................................................... 25 Font Legend ..................................................................................................................................................... 26 Choosing a djembé ........................................................................................................................................... 27 Tuning a djembé ............................................................................................................................................... 28 Other instruments, often used next to a djembé ............................................................................................... 44

1. Getting started
1.1. Posture and arm movement
You may either let the drum rest on the floor or you may also support it with your feet allowing it to move along with your body. Keep the drum tilted or lift it off the floor, as it dampens the bass sounds coming from the tube. Keep your back slightly arched, push your chest forward, keep your neck upright and shoulders low and make sure that the drum is properly tilted away from you. Remind yourself of the good sitting posture every now and then by looking straight ahead, slightly upwards.

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Avoid tensing your arms so that your upper arms become rigid and only your forearms move vertically. Do not wear any jewelry on your hands or arms as this may hurt you or change the sound of the djembe. An economic way of playing is keeping your elbows clearly apart from your sides with the elbows and palms moving almost in opposite directions. When the palm moves up and down to the whole extent, the elbow moves in the opposite direction some 5 cm. The arm rotates around an imagined axle which starts from the shoulder and runs through the forearm at a point which is some 5 cm from the elbow towards the palm. In the opposite sides of the axle, the arm masses balance each other during the movement, which makes the movement lighter but maintains the speed of the palm movement.

2

1.2.

Playing while standing
While standing you are able to move with the drum more freely. Pass a wide strap (4.5 m in length) as illustrated in the picture. Find the right spot for the knot by experimenting.

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3

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4

3. but no further towards the palm.net/en/learning_material/online/basic_technique_for_djembe 5 . The part of the fingers that touch the edge of the drum extend up to the bend at the root of the proximal phalanx (first finger bone) of the middle finger. Playing a tone The fingers meet the edge of the drumhead simultaneously covering as large an area as possible.1.net/en/learning_material/online/basic_technique_for_djembe From the player's perspective the tone looks like this at the time when the hand hits the drumhead: Image from http://etno. Image from http://etno.

Common mistakes Sore thumbs . There is also and element of your hand learning to keep the thumb out to the way.There is slightly more speed in a slap. but only because of your wrist whipping on the way down. Strike firmly but avoid overdoing it: the volume will not grow endlessly by increasing the striking power.You may be play too far to the centre of the drum.1. This causes: 1) rotation of the wrist (causes sore wrists and forearm tendons. 6 .4. You do not hit the drum harder for get a slap. Playing with your hands too parallel instead of pointing somewhat inwards. Playing a bass The best sound is produced right in the centre. The amount of force you use should be the same and the whipping occurs naturally.5. eventually leading to carpal tunnel syndrome) 2) moves the thumbs towards the rings so you're bound to hit them a lot of the time. 1. Hitting harder to make slaps (see Advanced) . but it is often practical to hit where both hands have room for quick repetition of bass strokes. Keep your palm stiff and flat and try to make the entire drumhead vibrate so that even the lowest frequencies can be heard.

producing a tone 4. This allows you to simply keep your notes in a Word Document. you can do 4 things: 1.2. hit it. 7 .djembe. You can download the Djembe Font from http://www. producing a slap (see advanced) These four are seen here: +bts You can produce these three tones with your left or with your right hand: () When you look at one of the easiest rhythms.1. hit it. the Rumba 1. hit it. you get: B+b+ttt+ ) ) )() You read this as: y y y y y y y y play a bass with your right hand do nothing with your left hand play a bass with your right hand do nothing with your left hand play a tone with your right hand play a tone with your left hand play a tone with your right hand do nothing with your left hand y and start over You ll notice that almost every rhythm has 8. do nothing 2. Writing down rhythms With a djembe. Beginner 2. producing a bass 3.net. 12 or 16 steps like this (counting the do nothing steps).

After the call is played.2. the various parts are numbered: Q1 Q2 The above means that half the group will play the first line and the other half the second line. you have to stop at the last note of this call (although there are a few exceptions). and sound well together. The call When a lot of people are playing together.2. While palying. In the written out rhythms. This is the call. 8 . it is impossible to tell them when you want to stop. everybody starts playing at the same time. but then everybody would have to count them. Playing different parts or the same rhythm Sometimes. That is why we agree on a certain rhythm that we use to start and stop. In the written out rhythms. listen carefully at the leader.3. players divide themselves in several groups. the call is shown behind the exclamation mark: ! 2. each playing a different rhythm. When he plays the call. You could tell them that we will play this rhythm 30 times . These rhythms obiously have the same length.

The bones in your hand arch just the opposite way than the edge of the drum. Advanced 3. The edge of the drum should be hit with the fleshy part of your palm which is on the same level as your knuckles on the other side of your palm.3. Fingers are free to move and whip the skin even when the palm movement stops.net/en/learning_material/online/basic_technique_for_djembe From the player's perspective the slap looks like this at the time when the hand hits the drumhead: Image from http://etno.1. the hand hits the centre of the drumhead 1-1.net/en/learning_material/online/basic_technique_for_djembe 9 . but try to do it so that as much of the fleshy part of your palm as possible can receive support from the rim. Image from http://etno. Playing a slap In the slap.5 cm closer than in the tone.

snapping the drumhead surface. Remember to keep your thumbs up.Even though the slap sounds louder. You could write it down as: ttt+t+t+ But instead. A continued roll should just sound like a drum roll (remember the last circus act you have seen ) 10 . 3. Keep your wrist in a slightly lower position than in the tone to allow a slightly wider angle where your fingers and the drumhead meet. and speed up to a roll. it will hurt your hand and forces your hand and fingers to partially cancel out each other. The edge of the drum will force your finger upwards just when it should be moving downwards. Avoid making an active movement with your fingers. Playing a roll A roll is a moment in the rhythm where you play at double speed. Although you may find playing the slap easier when the fingertips hit nearer to the edge. Do not press your fingers together. it s easy to write that. This focuses the weight on the fingertips and the slap loses sharpness. because doing this makes your hand land on the rim with the area between the knuckle and the first joint of your finger. we write: rttt When you play a roll. keep your hands low. because we want to see that this is very fast . Take care that you do not draw your hand too far away from the drumhead. in other words. the feel should be lighter than in producing the tone.2. start at normal speed. and do not play hard. When you practice this. Do not move your hand too far towards the centre of the drum. This also strains the last joints of your fingers. but allow the fingers to relax into a slight curve. but difficult to get used to). but not overly loose either. and we don t want it to take up much space. You should try to find an ideal tension: not too stiff which prevents the fingers from touching the drumhead. Keep your muscles relaxed (I know. Do not spread your fingers too wide apart or straighten them because this makes them too tense.

You can start with what the rest is playing. you have to keep this pace. Master A true master does not need much explanation. Just wait a few seconds. If something does not work. 4. Tap your foot to the rhythm that the rest is playing. Try not to hit your own hands. using your djembé as your voice. everyone in the room plays the same repeating rhythm.4. When you play solo. because whatever you do. The key word here is almost ! They have to be very close together to sound almost as one. This also gives you time to think about what to play next. but with a bit of variation: change a tone to a slap from time to time.2. but can only be felt . Playing a flam A flam is simply 2 notes played almost at the same time. telling your own unique story. Start with just a few notes that you throw in. or switch a part to a roll. How do you begin? Just listen to others playing solo.1. Leave room for the rhythm that the others are playing. We all make mistakes. Playing solo This is a part that can hardly be learned. 11 . and try something else. and steal their ideas. don t be shy. except you You talk to the rest. Never play the whole time. 4.

5. Rhythms to play together Name Rumba 1 Ë Rhythm Remark ! Q1 Q2 Rumba 2 Ë ! Q1 Q2 Rumba 3 Ë ! Q1 Q2 Rumba 4 Ë ! Q1 Q2 Rumba 5 ËË ! Q1 Rumba 6 ËË ! Q1 Q2 Q3 Esokoto 12 ! ++t+tt+t+tt+ttt+ ) )( ( () )() B+b+ttt+ ) ) )() ttt+btt+ )() )() ++ftt+ftt+ttt+++ [() [() )() B+ttb+t+b+ttb+t+ ) )() ) ) )() ) tt+ttt++tt+ttt++ () )() () )() tt+tt+tt+tt+ttt+ )( () )( () )() b+t+b+ttb+t+b+tt ) ) ) )() ) ) )( B+b+ttt+B+b+ttt+ ) ) )() ) ) )() ftt+ftt+ftt+ftt+ [() [() [() [() b++tb+t+b+ttb+t+ ) () ( ) )() ( tt+ttt++tt+ttt++ () )() () )() ++t+tt+t+tt+ttt+ ) )( ( () )() bt+tb+s+btttb+s+ )( () ( )()() ( ++t+tt+t+tt+ttt+ ) )( ( () )() t+stbbtt ) )()()( tt+tttt+ )( ()() tt+bttt+ )( ()() ttt+ttt+ttt+ last note not played last time join in last note not played last time join in fast .

Name ËË Rhythm Remark Q1 Fankani Ë ! Q1 Q2 Momonge ËË Q1 Q2 Nameless 1 ËË Q1 Q2 Nameless 2 ËË Q1 Q2 Nameless 3 ËË Q1 Q2 Nameless 4 Ë Q1 Q2 Pianza Ë ! Q1 Q2 )() )() )() b+t+s+bttts+ ) ) ) )()() +t+tt+t+tt+ttt++ ) )( ( () )() t++tt+b+t+ttt+b+ ) () ) ) )() ) tt+ttt++tt+ttt+b () )() () )() ) rttbttt+ [()()() rtt+rtt+ ])( ])( ttt+s+b+tbttb+b+ )() ) ) )()() ) ttt++tt+ttt++tt+ )() () )() () b++tt+s+b+ttt+s+ ) () ) ) )() ) tt+ttt++tt+ttt++ () )() () )() b+tbttb+ttt+ ) )()() )() t+stttt+tt++ ) )()() )( t++tt+b+b+ttt+b+ ) () ) ) )() ) tt+ttt++tt+ttt++ () )() () )() ++t+tt+t+tt+ttt+ ) )( ( () )() bt+t+tt+bt+t+tt+ () ) )( () ) )( tt+ttt++tt+ttt++ () )() () )() last note not played last time join in join in after 2nd s fast join in 13 .

Name Ritme Marocain ËË Rhythm Remark ! Q1 Q2 Sakajonsa ËË ! Q1 Shaba Ë ! Q1 Q2 Q3 Yekouma Ë ! Q1 Q2 rtt+rtt+ttt+ [() [() )() ttJtt+ttJtt+ )())( )())( b++t++b++t++ ( ) ( ) tt+tt+tt+tt+ttt+ )( () )( () )() b+tt+sb+tttt ) )( () )()( ttbr++ttbr++> )()[ )()[ ttbr+tttttt+ )()[ ()()() t+t+b+t++tttb+t+ ) ) ) ) ()() ) ttttt+t+ttttt+t+ )()() ) )()() ) tt+tttt+tt+tttt+ )( ()() )( ()() ttt+ttt+ttt+ )() )() )() bbttt+btttt+ )()() )()() ttttt+ttttt+ )()() )()() very fast 14 .

5. 17. 16. 6. 19. 7. b+b+tbtt ) ) )()( b+bt+btt ) )( ()( b+btb+tt ) )() )( b+t+bttt ) ) )()( b+tb+btt ) )( ()( b+tb+ttt ) )( ()( b+tbttt+ ) )()() b+tt+ttt ) )( ()( Ë Ë Ë Ë Ë Ë Ë Ë 15 . 20. 9. Rhythms to play alone No. 10. 2. 4. 14.6. 8. 1. b+tbtt ) )()( bbt+ts )() )( bbttb+ )()() bbttbt )()()( bbsst+ )()() btbstt ()()() bt+bs+ )( () rr+bb+ [[ () stttt+ )()() tsttt+ )()() Measure 8 Ë ËË Ë Ë ËË ËË ËË fast ËË ËË ËË 13. 18. 15. 12. 11. Rhythm Measure 4 Remark ËË ËË bsbt ()() rts+ [() Measure 6 3.

39. 42. 28. 29. 37. 35. 22. 38. 23. Rhythm bbtbbbtt )()()()( bbttb+s+ )()() ) bbttbbt+ )()()() bbtts+st )()() )( bbttsstt )()()()( bsbtbstt )()()()( bt+bst++ )( ()( bt+btts+ )( ()() bt+tbtt+ )( ()() bttbttbt )()()()( btttbtt+ )()()() rrtsbtts [[()()() rtsbtts+ [()()() rttttb++ ])()() stt+ts+b )() )( ( stttsbt+ )()()() stttstt+ )()()() sttttts+ )()()() tb+ttb++ () )() tbttb+b+ )()() ) tt+bstb+ )( ()() tt+btts+ )( ()() ttbbttb+ )()()() Remark Ë ËË Ë ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË Ë Ë Ë ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË Ë ËË fast. 31. 36. 21.No. 25. 24. 33. 26. 27. 40. 43. 32. but controlled ËË ËË Ë 16 . 41. 34. 30.

48. 59. 62. 54. 58. 53. 52. 60. 50. 61. 45. 46. 56. 57. 63. 51. 47. Rhythm tts+ttb+ )() )() ttsbttb+ )()()() ttsbtts+ )()()() ttsttsbb )()()()( tttb+tb+ ()() )( Measure 12 Remark ËË ËË ËË ËË Ë 49. 44. 55. b+tb+tb+tttt ) )( () )()( b+tbstb+tts+ ) )()() )() b+tt+tt+tttt ) )( () )()( b+ttttb+tt+t ) )()() )( ( bs+tt+bsttt+ () )( ()()( bs+tttts+tt+ () )()() )( bt+stttt+st+ () )()() )( bt+tt+btttt+ () )( ()()( btbtttbttttt ()()()()()() btt+tt+tt+tt )() )( () )( bttbt+btttt+ )()() )()() ss+tt+ssttt+ )( () )()() t+tt+tt+tttt ) )( () )()( t+tts+bbtts+ ) )() )()() tbstb+ttstb+ )()() )()() tt+btt+ttts+ )( ()( ()() tt+tt+btttt+ )( () )()() Ë ËË Ë Ë ËË ËË ËË Ë Ë Ë Ë ËË Ë ËË ËË ËË Ë 17 .No. 64. 65.

74. 87. 70. 66. 82. 77. 68. 78. 67. 72. Rhythm tt+tt+ttb+tb )( () )() )( tt+tt+ttbbt+ )( () )()() tt+tt+ttstt+ )( () )()() tt+tt+tttts+ )( () )()() tt+tt+ttttt+ )( () )()() tt+ttt++b+b+ )( ()( ) ) tt+ts+tttts+ )( () )()() tts+tt+tttb+ )() )( ()() tts+tts+rts+ )() )() [() ttstt+ttsbt+ )()() )()() ttt+s+ttb+tb )() ) )() )( ttt+ttts+bt+ ()( ()() )( ttttb+tbttb+ )()() )()() ttttsttttts+ )()()()()() ttttt+bbttb+ )()() )()() ttttt+ttttb+ )()() )()() ttttttt+ssbb )()()() )()( Measure 16 Remark Ë Ë ËË ËË Ë ËË fast ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË Ë ËË Ë Ë ËË slow 83. 76. 81. 71. 85. b+b+ttt+b+b+tt++ ) ) )() ) ) )( b+bttbttb+tttttt ) )()()() )()()( b+stts++ttttts++ ) )()( )()()( b+tbt+s+b+ttt+s+ ) )() ) ) )() ) b+tbttb+b+tttttt ) )()() ) )()()( Ë Ë ËË ËË Ë 18 . 79. 73. 75. 69. 80. 86.No. 84.

Rhythm b+tbttb+b+tttts+ ) )()() ) )()( b+tbttttb+tb+btt ) )()()() )( ()( bgttgtsgbbttgtsg )()()()()()()()( b+tt+bstb+ttt+st ) )( ()() )() )( b+tt++ttt+b+t+t+ ) )( )() ) ) ) B+tt+tt+b+ttt+t+ ) )( () ) )() ) b+tt+tttb+tttttt ) )( ()() )()()( b+ttb+s+b+ttt+s+ ) )() ) ) )() ) b+ttb+s+btttbts+ ) )() ) )()()() b+ttbtt+b+ttttt+ ) )()() ) )()() b+ttstttb+b+t+s+ ) )()()() ) ) ) b+ttt+s++t+tt+s+ ) )() ) ( () ) b+ttt+s++tttt+s+ ) )() ) ()() ) b+ttt+s+b+tttts+ ) )() ) ) )()() b+ttt+s+bttbtts+ ) )() ) )()()() b+ttt+s+tt+tt+s+ ) )() ) )( () ) b+ttt+ttb+tttttt ) )() )() )()()( bb++bb++bbssbb++ )( )( )()()( bb+tt+s+b++tt+s+ )( () ) ) () ) bb+tt+s+b+tttts+ )( () ) ) )()() bbt+tb++tt++tt++ )() )( )( )( bbttbtt+btttbtt+ )()()() )()()() bbttt+s+tt+tt+s+ )()() ) )( () ) Remark ËË Ë ËË ËË Ë Ë Ë ËË ËË Ë ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË Ë ËË slow. 93. 101. 104. 91. 108. 89. 102. 90. 103. 100. 110. 105. 88. 99. 109. 92. 98. 94. 107.No. 96. 106. 97. 95. deliberate ËË ËË Ë Ë ËË 19 .

114. 130. 112. 124. 126. 128. 133. 115. 127. 125. 121. 113. 119. 123. 120. 131. but calm ËË fast ËË ËË ËË Ë ËË ËË ËË ËË fast ËË 20 . 129. 111.No. 122. 117. 118. 132. 116. Rhythm bbttt+stt+stt+s+ )()() )() )() ) bsbtbsbtbsbttttt )()()()()()()()( bstt+tt+bstt+st+ )()( () )()( () bt+bt+bt+bt+bbt+ )( () )( () )() bt+bt+s+tt+tt+s+ )( () ) )( () ) bt+bt+s+tt+ttts+ )( () ) )( ()() bt+bt+s+tt+tttt+ )( () ) )( ()() bt+bt+s+ttttt+s+ )( () ) )()() ) bt+tb+t+bt+tbtt+ )( () ) )( ()() bt+tb+t+bt+tt+t+ )( () ) )( () ) bt+tbbttbt+tb+s+ )( ()()()( () ) bt+tbts+btttnts+ )( ()() )()()() bt+tt+s+tt+tt+s+ )( () ) )( () ) bt+tt+s+ttttt+s+ )( () ) )()() ) bt+tt+s+tttttbs+ )( () ) )()()() bt+ttts+st+ttts+ )( ()() )( ()() btbsbtb+btttbtb+ ()()()( ()()()( btt++btt++bttttt )() ()( )()()( bttbttb+b+ttt+st )()()() ) )() )( bttt+tt+bttt+st+ ()() )( ()() )( btttttstbbttttst )()()()()()()()( r+ttts++b+tt+bs+ [ ()() ( () )( rtsrtstt+bs+tts+ [()[()() )( ()( Remark ËË ËË ËË Ë ËË ËË ËË ËË reasonably fast Ë ËË very fast ËË ËË ËË deliberate.

153. 134. 137. 135. 154. 144. 146. 150. 138. 156. 142. 155. 139. 141. 152. 136. Rhythm rttt+b++sttt+b++ [()( ( )()( ( stt+stb+ttt+stb+ )() )() )() )() stt+stt+stttstt+ )() )() )()()() sttts++tstttb+tt )()() ()()() )( stttstt+sbttstt+ )()( () )()()() t+tt+tttt+ttbbtt ) )( ()() )()()( t+ttbbttb+tbttb+ ) )()()() )()() tb+bttb+ttttstb+ )( ()() )()()() tt+bt+t+tt+btts+ )( () ) )( ()() tt+bttb+sttbttb+ )( ()() )()()() tt+bttb+tts+ttb+ )( ()() )() )() tt+btts+ttbbtts+ )( ()() )()()() tt+tb+b+ttt+s+b+ )( () ) )() ) ) tt+tsts+tt+ttts+ )( ()() )( ()() tt+tt+s+b+ttt+s+ )( () ) ) )() ) tt+tt+s+b+tttts+ )( () ) ) )()() tt+tt+s+ttttt+s+ )( () ) )()() ) tt+tt+tt+tt+ttb+ )( () )( () )() tt+ttt++tt+bbt++ () )() () )() tt+tttb+ttbtttb+ )( ()() )()()() tt+tttb+ttt+ttb+ )( ()() )() )() tt+ttts+bt+ttts+ )( ()() )( ()() tt+ttts+tt+tttn+ )( ()() )( ()() Remark ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË Ë Ë ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË Ë Ë Ë Ë ËË ËË 21 . 147. 148. 140. 143.No. 149. 151. 145.

158. lively ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË Ë calm ËË Ë Ë ËË very fast Ë 22 . 175. 164. 162. 170.No. 176. 160. 157. 177. 159. 163. 173. 166. 179. 172. Rhythm tt+ttts+ttbbtts+ )( ()() )()()() ttb+tt+tttb+tts+ )() )( ()() )( tts+ttb+tbttb+b+ )() )() )()() ) tts+ttb+tt+bttb+ )() )() )( ()() tts+ttb+ttstttb+ )() )() )()()() tts+tts+ttbbttb+ )() )() )()()() ttsbtb+btt+btb+b )()()( ()( ()( ( ttsbttb+ttstttb+ )()()() )()()() ttsstts+tttttts+ )()()() )()()() ttst+b++tts+b+b+ )()( ( )() ) ) ttsttts+b+ttt+s+ )()()() ) )() ) ttt+st++ttt+s+b+ )() )( )() ) ) ttt+st+bttt+stb+ )() )( ()() )() ttt+stb+ts+tb+b+ )() )() )( () ) ttt+stbbttt+stb+ )() )()()() )() ttt+strttrttttb+ )() )(])(])()() ttt+sts+ttt+st+b )() )() )() )( ( ttt+t+t+ttt+b+b+ )() ) ) )() ) ) ttt+tt+tttt+s+b+ )() )( ()() ) ) ttt+ttb+tt+tttb+ )() )() )( ()() ttt+ttt++tt+b+b+ )() )() () ) ) ttt+ttt+st+b+tb+ )() )() )( ( () ttt+ttt+ttb+tb+t )() )() )() )( ( Remark ËË fast. 161. 178. 169. 171. 165. 168. 174. 167.

195.No. Rhythm ttt+ttt+ttt+b+b+ )() )() )() ) ) ttt+ttt+tttbttt+ )() )() )()()() tttb+tb+tttt+s++ ()() )( ()() ) tttb+ttt+stb+tt+ ()() )() )() )( tttt+st+tttb+tb+ ()() )( ()() )( ttttgtsgbbttgtsg )()()()()()()()( tttts+b+t+tts+b+ )()() ) ) )() ) ttttttb+tttbttb+ )()()() )()()() tttttts+tt+tttt+ )()()() )( ()() ttttttt+tt+bt+s+ )()()() )( () ) Other measures Remark Ë Ë ËË ËË ËË ËË ËË Ë ËË ËË fast 190. 181. 191. 193. 187. 186. 194. 184. bt+tt+btt+t+> () )( ()( ( bt+tt+bt+tt+ () )( () )( btb+bsb+btt+> ()( ()( ()( btb+btttttt+ ()( ()()()( tt+tt+ttttt+> )( () )()() tt+bt+ttttt+ )( () )()() tt+ttts+b+b+> )( ()() ) ) tttttts+b+b+ )()()() ) ) tts+tts+tts+> )() )() )() ttttt+ttttt+ )()() )()() b+ttt+s+b+ttt+s+> ) )() ) ) )() ) b+ttt+s+b+tbttb+ ) )() ) ) )()() Ë ËË Ë ËË ËË ËË 23 . 192. 180. 182. 183. 185. 189. 188.

196. Rhythm b+tt+s++b+ttt+s+>*3 ) )( ( ) )() ) b+tb+s++b+ttt+s+ *1 ) )( ( ) )() ) Remark ËË repeat this line 3 times repeat this line one time 24 .No.

Base 1. 10. 6. 9. Rhythm Remark 2. Playing Solo To be used as inspiration while playing solo No. 8.7. 5. 4. 3. b+b+ttt+b+b+ttt+ ) ) )() ) ) )() tt+tt+tt+tt+t+t+> )( () )( () ) ) tt+tt+tt+rrs++++ )( () )( ]]) t+t+s+s+t+t+s+++ ))))))) tttttts+tts+tts+ )()()() )() )() rttttts+rts+rts+ [()()() [() [() rrtttts+ ]])()() ttsstts+ ()()()( rts+rts+ [() [() ttF+ttF+ (){ (){ rtttts++ ])()() ttstttss )()()()( 25 . 7.

y h z l Y J N U 26 Explanation Djembe Doundoun Bell Signal Shekere Left hand Right hand Roll staring left Roll staring right Flam starting left Flam starting right Note line Support bar Support Numbers Support Rest Notation line break Lead in break Blank / Non-breaking space Tap Bang Barless Bang Lineless Bang Djembe Doundoun Slap Kenkei Tone Sangban Bass Dundun Rest Rest Muffled Slap Kenkei Muffled Tone Sangban Muffled Bass Dundun Slap roll Tone roll Bass roll Slap Flam Tone Flam Bass Slap Bass Tone Slap Kenkei Tone Sangban Bass Dundun Any Any Slap Kenkei Tone Sangban Bass Dundun Muffled Slap Kenkei Tone Sangban Bass Dundun Muffled - instruments handing notation line loudness notes Bell High Low Rest High Low High Low Any High Low Muffled High Low Muffled basic notes muffled notes roll notes flam notes Barless/Lineless Shuffle notes 6 support bars Shuffle notes 8 support bars . . Font Legend Sign Q W % ! ? ( ) [ ] { } _ 09 = > * | g T P G Sign Key Q W % ! ? ( ) [ ] { } _ 0-9 = > * | g T P G Key sKH tSL bB + m w q R r m F f Z X : . y h z l Y J N U s t b m w q R r M F f Z X : . . . .8.

The slaps should "pop" and not be too difficult to create in relation to the open tones. there should not be many horizontal ropes. there should be a long spare rope coiled around the foot of the djembé The metal rings: y they should be perfectly horizontal. Don t look for a djembé that scores 100%. that doesn't linger too long. the type of wood determines the sound: usually a heavier wood means older wood. with little overtone. The more knots there are. A decent djembé costs between 150 and 200 EUR. Material First you should check the skin: y y y y it should be clean shaven. colouring and decorations are not very important. and have no rough spots. with a quick "decay" (time it takes for the sound to disappear). The tones will also have a clean sound and feel. and the more sound it creates without much effort. not to be used for playing. Choosing a djembé 12. If the head is too loose there is usually an excessive amount of overtone (a higher pitch that accompanies the lower-pitched bass or tone). the spine of the goat should be visible as a straight line (almost) in the middle of the djembé. the finer the tension on the skin can be set. the less you can tune the djembé later on. Then the woodwork: y y y y y there should be no rips or tears in the wood. both above and below. and better quality.9. the inside should be smooth and flat.1. and significant distinction in sound between the bass and tone. when the djembé is not in use.2. Sound The bass and tone should sound clean. and just standing on the ground. 12. and no thin patches the edges of the skin should be cut straight. unless you re willing to pay the price. The best djembés cost up to 400 EUR. The better the djembé. An in-tune djembe will have a crisp bass that can be easily heard. Look out for nails or shells that are driven into the wood: these are usually decorative djembés. The more horizontal ropes there are. Check the ropes and knots: y y y there should be at least 20 knots around the top ring. 27 . Nails and shells may cause the wood to split. or "metal ringing". with minimal overtone. it should not wobble: the underside should be flat. there should be no (small) holes visible. the easier to play. when you hold the djembé upside down to the light.

e. Bear in mind the thicker the skin the less movement there will be. Physical Indicators that your djembe needs tuning Regarding sight and touch indicators. Sound Indicators that your djembe needs tuning Regarding sound. By having even tension the skin will vibrate at the same level all the way around the drum. An in-tune djembe will have a crisp bass that can be easily heard. but even so the movement should be limited to 0. and reapplied as evenly as possible. that doesn't linger too long. being dropped lower on one side or the other. movement of the rope. If the top rings of the djembe (where the loops attach and which holds the skin in place) are not even. The tones will also have a clean sound and feel.5 cm maximum. The tighter the skin. almost like pushing into the top of a magazine resting on a table. The first way to test for proper head tension is by pressing the pad of the thumb into the center of the head. and significant distinction in sound between the bass and tone. even at similar tensions. If the head is too loose there is usually an excessive amount of overtone (a higher pitch that accompanies the lower-pitched bass or tone). If the skin is too loose the sound could be described as wobbly.html 13. it probably should be tightened. The taller the drum the more movement will be found in the vertical ropes. and the bass response will be somewhat weak or even non-existent. The amount of movement in the skin will tell you if the skin is too loose: If the skin can be depressed more than slightly. the more localized the movement will be to the immediate space around the thumb (i. with a quick "decay" (time it takes for the sound to disappear). or "ringing". and level of the rings can all help determine if the djembe should be tuned. 28 .10.djembedirect. different pitches are created. a loose skin will show movement of the skin from the edge to the center when pressed. and a taught skin will only move in slightly within about 2 cm from where your thumb is pressing into the skin). with little overtone. 13. the bass and open tones should sound clean.com/about/tune_djembe. Even though a djembe may have enough tension. the sound will be out of balance. this is an indication that the tension may not be even on the head. In this case the tension should be undone.1. resonant sound. A drum at proper tension should feel very solid. whereas on a tight djembe the ropes will feel stiff and immobile. The vertical ropes on a loose djembe can be moved with the fingers. Tuning a djembé Source: http://www. so the rings maintain a straight line horizontally. the feel of the skin. When one side or section of the djembe head is tighter than another. with minimal overtone. leaving the sound flat or muted.2. if that tension isn't applied evenly around the circumference of the head. The slaps should "pop" and not be too difficult to create in relation to the open tones. creating a more full.

Note: Don't proceed with weave tuning until the vertical ropes have all slack taken out. using a rope puller or dowel.by hand. The tension should then be tied off so the verticals don't loosen after you stop pulling on them. The tighter the vertical ropes are to start with the more effective the weave tuning will be. making the tail longer. each downward-flowing vertical should be pulled . The excess vertical rope now becomes your tuning rope for pulling diamonds. or with a rope pulling machine . Phase 1: Pull the Verticals Tight The first phase of tuning a djembe is to pull the vertical ropes as tight as possible.13.with the slack transferred around the drum.3. 29 .

The best way to select which verticals will be used as tuning pairs is to determine where the greatest distance is between pairs near the bottom ring. The verticals either side of the arrow should be chosen as the tuning pairs. The tuning pairs will be those with the greatest distance between them. but if the distance appears to be more or less the same . These distances are determined by how many bottom loops there are.then choose for pairs those that don't share a loop. The white arrows indicate where the verticals extend upward out of different loops. and the size of those loops.as in the picture below . On most djembes the choice will be obvious. 30 .

Of course there are other ways to attach the vertical rope. and green. and you can double up on one pair if needed. 31 . you can attach an extra length of rope for tuning. It is a myth that the tuning rope has to be connected to the vertical rope in order to work. The length of tuning rope you'll need will depend on the size of your drum and how many rows of diamonds you'll have to have to achieve proper tension. with no verticals being skipped. The only reason this would be true is if the vertical rope is not tied off with a knot. this is just one example of a simple. In general it is a good idea to have enough tuning rope to go around at least twice. Each pair consists of vertical #1 and vertical #2. If your drum has an odd number of verticals then the loops were not done correctly. simply create a knot in one end and slip that underneath the vertical before the pair you want to use as the first tuning pair. and gives an example of how to attach a separate tuning rope. If your djembe doesn't have extra vertical rope that can be used as the tuning rope. red. For a standard size djembe you'll want about 3' to 4' per row. To attach the rope. clean way to do it. This pattern will continue around the drum. keeping the tension locked in. which is highlighted in 3 pairs. blue. effective.The picture below shows which verticals will be the tuning pairs.

each of which is used to achieve different objectives. The Under-Weave is an easier pattern to weave. Step 1: Over . which all refer to the same weave tuning process.S-Weave (A) The S-Weave consists of five steps. Either version can be used at any time. Position the tuning rope as low as possible on the tuning pair. each of which is explained below with the help of pictures.. Again. we only teach the two most common .4. follow this pattern: over. and the S-Weave for additional rows if needed. The S-Weave is self-locking so it is better suited for use when the vertical ropes are not touching the wood or when the verticals are spaced far apart. Some prefer the finished look of the S-Weave over other patterns. under. but we'd recommend using one or the other. for simplicity.The tuning rope passes over #1 and #2. and to give an example of how to tie on an extra tuning rope if needed. There are many different weave patterns.the S-Weave and the Under-Weave. and making mental note of which is #1 and #2. As described above this process is known by many names. which keeps the tension levels even. twist. For most djembes we'd recommend using the Under-Weave for the first row of diamonds. First Row . close to the loops on the bottom ring. We've used a separate yellow tuning rope only to better illustrate the weave pattern. Phase 2: The first row weave If your djembe still needs more tension after the verticals are pulled as tight as possible you'll need to increase tension by twisting pairs of verticals. After determining which verticals are best to use as your tuning pairs. 32 . This will help maintain a straight line as the horizontal row progresses around the drum. slide down.13. between. depending on the construction and tension of the drum. This weave tends to come undone unless it is held in place by contact with the wood or by tucking the extra tuning rope under the next pair of verticals. and will sometimes allow the knot to be positioned closer to the bottom rings than other versions.

The tuning rope passes around and underneath #1 and #2.Step 2: Between .The tuning rope passes around and underneath #2. 33 . and feeds up to the side of #2. Step 3: Under . and feeds up between #1 and #2. After completing this step you can see the "S" shape created by the tuning rope as it weaves through the vertical tuning pair. Be sure not to pass the tuning rope underneath additional verticals (potentially #1 and #2 of the next pair).

34 . Make sure you pull as much with the arms and legs as possible. you may consider using a rope pulling tool. and avoid pulling from the lower back alone.Step 4: Slide Down . keep that distance as narrow as possible (indicated by white double arrow). Step 5: Twist . The tighter the verticals the more force will be required to complete this step.Continue pulling the vertical rope downward until the ropes twist. If #2 is too tight against the wood to allow the tuning rope to pass underneath it. inverting the "S" shape. Continue to monitor the distance between the completed weave knot and the loops. or wrapping the tuning rope around a hammer handle or thick wood dowel.Pull the tuning rope downward. removing the slack and causing it to pass underneath itself. If you don't want to wrap the tuning rope around your hand to get a solid grip. use a screwdriver or other tool to gently lift #2 so that this step can be completed.

First Row . we've used a separate yellow tuning rope only to better illustrate the weave pattern.Under-Weave (B) The Under-Weave consists of three steps. follow this pattern: under. twist. Step 2: Between . marked with a blue "A". 35 . After determining which verticals are best to use as your tuning pairs.The tuning rope passes under #1 and #2. Make sure that the line created is straight. Step 1: Under . and making mental note of which is #1 and #2. or between the pair. and to give an example of how to tie on an extra tuning rope if needed. Note that the pictures below show two completed knots using the S-Weave pattern. As with the S-Weave. between.The tuning rope passes over #2 and under #1. and that it is positioned as close to the bottom loops as possible. each of which is explained below with the help of pictures. The verticals to illustrate the Under-Weave are marked with a red numbers.

you may find your drum looks like the one on the right. 13. 36 . creating a knot. which is no problem. Depending on which verticals were the tuning pairs on the first row. Otherwise. Second. The color-coded number of tuning pairs in the photo should help solve the mystery.4.Pull the tuning rope downward and outward until #1 and #2 twist. you won't be retwisting the same pair you did on the previous row. just pick the two that are closest together using the top loops as a reference point. so it may be necessary to pass the tuning rope underneath the next pair in order to keep it twisted.Step 3: Twist . This knot may have a tendency to undo itself because of the pressure on the verticals.The selection of tuning pairs for the second row will depend on which vertical pairs were twisted on the first row. as indicated with the white arrow. The method for selecting is easy: First. Phase 3: The second row weave Pick the Pairs . the verticals may already be very close together. or "diamond". with plenty of space between the verticals. Select the verticals that are closest to each other near the top loops.

37 . If this applies to your djembe. and the S-Weave be used for the second and subsequent rows. which allows the Under-Weave to untwist itself easily.As the number of rows of diamonds increases. the ropes on most djembes tend to NOT be touching the wood by the time you get to the second or third row. as the case may be. since the tension will begin to increase much more quickly on the second row than it did on the first row.As explained above. and only put in a knot every other. then make the rational choice to start the second row in the direction that would most likely keep tension or cause tension to become .Many djembe tuners will recommend that the direction the weave travels around the drum should alternate from row to row. pair. As long as the distance between verticals is similar. or every third. Decide How Many Knots You'll Need . so does the amount of tension added per knot twisted. the tension on each vertical before weaving was similar. if for some reason you find that the drum is higher on one side than the other. Yes. the S-Weave and the Under-Weave each have different strengths. Bear in mind that you many not need to complete the entire second row. The reason for this is that the S-Weave is better at holding its twist than the Under-Weave. and the rings are positioned evenly horizontally. it is okay to skip tuning pairs. and apply that number of knots evenly around the drum. it shouldn't matter. which would leave one section tighter than another. Decide in Which Direction to Weave . do your best to guage how many knots you will need to achieve the desire tension. We recommend the Under-Weave be used for most djembes for the first row of diamonds. rather than only complete a portion of the second row. However.Decide Which Weave To Use .even distributed around the drum head. or that by continuing in one or the other direction would cause excess tension to one side.

close to the loops on the bottom ring.Second Row .S-Weave (A) Step 1: Over . which keeps the tension levels even. Step 3: Under .The tuning rope passes around and underneath #1 and #2.The tuning rope passes around and underneath #2. Be sure not to pass the tuning rope underneath additional verticals (potentially #1 and #2 of the next pair). After completing this step you can see the "S" shape created by the tuning rope as it weaves through the vertical tuning pair. 38 . Position the tuning rope as low as possible on the tuning pair.The tuning rope passes over #1 and #2. Step 2: Between . and feeds up to the side of #2. This will help maintain a straight line as the horizontal row progresses around the drum. and feeds up between #1 and #2.

or wrapping the tuning rope around a hammer handle or thick wood dowel.Continue pulling the vertical rope downward until the ropes twist. inverting the "S" shape. Step 5: Twist . If you don't want to wrap the tuning rope around your hand to get a solid grip.Pull the tuning rope downward. use a screwdriver or other tool to gently lift #2 so that this step can be completed. removing the slack and causing it to pass underneath itself.Step 4: Slide Down . 39 . If #2 is too tight against the wood to allow the tuning rope to pass underneath it. The tighter the verticals the more force will be required to complete this step. you may consider using a rope pulling tool.

and that it is positioned as close to the bottom loops as possible. Be sure not to pass under verticals that are not part of the immediate tuning pair. Make sure that the line created is straight. or between the pair.Second Row .The tuning rope passes over #2 and under #1. which passes under two pairs of verticals before starting the weave for the first knot.The tuning rope passes under #1 and #2.Under-Weave (B) Step 1: Under . 40 . Step 2: Between . The photo below shows how to add a separate tuning rope as well.

Step 4: Admire and Play . 41 ..Step 3: Twist . creating a knot. and your drum sounds better as a result.Pull the tuning rope downward and outward until #1 and #2 twist. so it may be necessary to pass the tuning rope underneath the next pair in order to keep it twisted. This knot may have a tendency to undo itself because of the pressure on the verticals. or "diamond". Hopefully the rows are straight and the diamonds are clear.The picture below shows an example of what the completed rows look like.

or if the tension is a little out of balance and you need to bring up a certain section . Having said this.. the skin is slipping between the top two (or three) rings. Process vs.5. You can monitor the tension by listening to the pitch as it being adjusted. Know When to Skip Knots . for one of the following reasons: the rope is too stretchy. wood.). When there is an imbalance of tension sound quality suffers. if the drum is kept in an even climate and the stretch has been taken out of the skin and rope. Fine tuning tips Even Tension a Must ..13. you can help improve sound with a good tuning. and as a result of being played or not played. the bearing edge is not even. shell thickness.then feel free 42 . but you want to bring it up just a little bit . etc. the tension must be applied evenly around the head. the shape of the bowl highly irregular. The best way to tell of minor differences in pitch is to lightly tap the rim of the drum with your index finger (like a rim-shot) and listen for the actual pitch. and because rope. consider upgrading to a higher quality instrument. metal. body shape. the sound of your djembe is likely to change with variations in temperature and relative humidity. If you feel your djembe isn't capable to sounding as good as you would like it too. the rings are incorrectly sized.Some drums will not be capable of maintaing a good tune. Tuning Can't Make Up for Poor Quality Craftsmanship . you can and will reach a point where the drum is "maxed out" .tightened as much as it can be tightened without breaking. and by touching the the ropes and skin to guage relative tension. but is a process that requires reevaluation from time to time. and won't require additional weave tuning. It may be helpful to divide the head into quadrants. then tap the center of each quadrant. The djembe is then more or less in a stable state. Do this around the drum and find areas that are lower than others. In any case. by looking at the level of the top rings and the taughness of the skin.If your djembe already has a fair level of tension. wood type. and skin are malleable materials that can stretch and bend.Because wood and skin are materials that take up and release water. thus allowing slipping of the skin or too much flexibility. Event . Opposite quadrants have a tendency to match in pitch. Tuning a djembe is usually not a one time event. causing uneven loss of tension over time. but you may not be able to overcome these weaknesses simply by adjusting tension.In order to achieve the best sound your drum is capable of producing (based on skin quality and thickness. Throughout the tuning process you should be keenly aware of keeping the tension as even as possible. Djembes with new skin or rope will certainly need more tuning than those that have had higher tension for longer.

One problem many drummer have when tuning their djembe is the constant twisting of the tuning rope as it is pulled through the verticals. and increase as needed.If the adjustment needed to achieve even tension is too small to make use of additional diamonds. straight weave! 43 . You'll notice that as you pull the rope through. Most professional djembe drummers carry a small rubber mallet with them in order to make fine adjustments on an ongoing basis. Be sure to use a rubber or leather mallet only (no metal hammers allowed!). toward the top of the drum. using a mallet to tap the crown/loop ring will help. You can use this method to increase ttension a little at a time. try this tip: Feed the rope through starting at the closest point. Avoid Twisted Tuning Rope . Start with light taps on the ring. The tuning rope between the knots can either be fed on the outside of the verticals. the twists in the rope unwind themselves. Test the pitch after each succession of hits with the mallet. Make Use of the Mallet . rather than tip-first. and to decrease tension by tapping the bottom of the rings. and don't smack the ring with all your force. not the skin or the rim of the drum. leaving you with a clean. make contact only with the ring. Take a look at the pictures below to see examples of how this is done. or fed underneath the verticals (recommended).to just weave knots in specific places where tension is required. If you find yourself trying to untwist the tuning rope.

Kenkeni Kessing or ³Ears´ on a djembe Bell Shekere 44 . Other instruments. Dundun.11. often used next to a djembé Left to right: Sangban.