Playing the Djembe 5 | Drum | Rope

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

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.net/en/learning_material/online/basic_technique_for_djembe 5 . Image from http://etno. but no further towards the palm. 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.1.3. Playing a tone The fingers meet the edge of the drumhead simultaneously covering as large an area as possible.

The amount of force you use should be the same and the whipping occurs naturally.5.4.There is slightly more speed in a slap. 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.You may be play too far to the centre of the drum. You do not hit the drum harder for get a slap. This causes: 1) rotation of the wrist (causes sore wrists and forearm tendons. Playing with your hands too parallel instead of pointing somewhat inwards. but only because of your wrist whipping on the way down. Hitting harder to make slaps (see Advanced) .1. 1. Keep your palm stiff and flat and try to make the entire drumhead vibrate so that even the lowest frequencies can be heard. Playing a bass The best sound is produced right in the centre. but it is often practical to hit where both hands have room for quick repetition of bass strokes. 6 . Common mistakes Sore thumbs . There is also and element of your hand learning to keep the thumb out to the way. Strike firmly but avoid overdoing it: the volume will not grow endlessly by increasing the striking power.

2. hit it. This allows you to simply keep your notes in a Word Document. the Rumba 1. Beginner 2. Writing down rhythms With a djembe. You can download the Djembe Font from http://www. 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. hit it. 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.djembe. do nothing 2.net. you can do 4 things: 1. producing a tone 4. 7 .1. 12 or 16 steps like this (counting the do nothing steps). hit it. producing a bass 3.

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

1.3.net/en/learning_material/online/basic_technique_for_djembe 9 .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. Playing a slap In the slap. the hand hits the centre of the drumhead 1-1. The bones in your hand arch just the opposite way than the edge of the drum.5 cm closer than in the tone. but try to do it so that as much of the fleshy part of your palm as possible can receive support from the rim. Fingers are free to move and whip the skin even when the palm movement stops. 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. Image from http://etno. Advanced 3.

Do not press your fingers together. Keep your muscles relaxed (I know. When you practice this. Do not move your hand too far towards the centre of the drum. A continued roll should just sound like a drum roll (remember the last circus act you have seen ) 10 . because doing this makes your hand land on the rim with the area between the knuckle and the first joint of your finger. Take care that you do not draw your hand too far away from the drumhead. Although you may find playing the slap easier when the fingertips hit nearer to the edge. This also strains the last joints of your fingers. and speed up to a roll. You could write it down as: ttt+t+t+ But instead. Playing a roll A roll is a moment in the rhythm where you play at double speed. start at normal speed. it s easy to write that. and we don t want it to take up much space. because we want to see that this is very fast . in other words. You should try to find an ideal tension: not too stiff which prevents the fingers from touching the drumhead. Avoid making an active movement with your fingers. 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.Even though the slap sounds louder. This focuses the weight on the fingertips and the slap loses sharpness. and do not play hard. but difficult to get used to). we write: rttt When you play a roll. Remember to keep your thumbs up. but not overly loose either. Do not spread your fingers too wide apart or straighten them because this makes them too tense. 3.2. it will hurt your hand and forces your hand and fingers to partially cancel out each other. snapping the drumhead surface. the feel should be lighter than in producing the tone. but allow the fingers to relax into a slight curve. keep your hands low. The edge of the drum will force your finger upwards just when it should be moving downwards.

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

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 .5.

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 .

12. 17. 10. 16. 9. 2. 5. 4. 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 . 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. 11. Rhythm Measure 4 Remark ËË ËË bsbt ()() rts+ [() Measure 6 3. 8. 7. 18. 19. 15. Rhythms to play alone No.6. 20. 14. 1. 6.

36. 27. 28. 39. 38. 40. 24. 26. 21. 32. 22. 43. 34. 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. 33. 31. 29.No. but controlled ËË ËË Ë 16 . 41. 35. 30. 23. 42. 37. 25.

57. 53. 54. 60. 63. 58.No. 51. 55. 52. 45. 65. 48. Rhythm tts+ttb+ )() )() ttsbttb+ )()()() ttsbtts+ )()()() ttsttsbb )()()()( tttb+tb+ ()() )( Measure 12 Remark ËË ËË ËË ËË Ë 49. 59. 64. 46. 56. 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 . 61. 47. 44. 62. 50.

69. 77. 86. 76.No. 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. 68. 72. 67. 73. 74. 79. 66. 78. 80. 75. 71. 81. 82. 85. 87. 84. 70. 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 .

91. 100. 89. 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. 109. 99. 103. 98. 97. 93. 110. 106. deliberate ËË ËË Ë Ë ËË 19 . 95. 90. 105. 108. 104. 96.No. 102. 101. 88. 107. 94. 92.

116. 119. but calm ËË fast ËË ËË ËË Ë ËË ËË ËË ËË fast ËË 20 . 125. 118. 120.No. 128. 123. 129. 114. 115. 117. 130. 124. 127. 112. 133. 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. 121. 113. 126. 122. 111. 132. 131.

135. 150. 148. 143. 151. 144.No. 152. 140. 155. 146. 147. 134. 138. 154. 142. 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 . 145. 141. 156. 137. 139. 153. 149. 136.

161. 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 . 167. 158. 178. 179. 176. 166. 171. 159. 164. 157. 160. 169. 173. 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. 163. 168. 170. 174. 177. 175.No. 162. 165. 172.

No. 191. 183. 185. 194. 181. 186. 192. 182. 195. 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 . 187. 188. 184. 189. 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. 193. 180.

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.

Playing Solo To be used as inspiration while playing solo No. 10. 6. 8. 5. Base 1.7. 9. 7. Rhythm Remark 2. 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 . 4. 3.

y h z l Y J N U s t b m w q R r M F f Z X : . 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 : .8. . . 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 . . .

with a quick "decay" (time it takes for the sound to disappear). 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). colouring and decorations are not very important. Sound The bass and tone should sound clean. Look out for nails or shells that are driven into the wood: these are usually decorative djembés. the spine of the goat should be visible as a straight line (almost) in the middle of the djembé. and no thin patches the edges of the skin should be cut straight. The more knots there are. it should not wobble: the underside should be flat. and have no rough spots. there should be no (small) holes visible. and significant distinction in sound between the bass and tone. with little overtone. 27 . Material First you should check the skin: y y y y it should be clean shaven. and just standing on the ground. both above and below. A decent djembé costs between 150 and 200 EUR. not to be used for playing. Check the ropes and knots: y y y there should be at least 20 knots around the top ring. when you hold the djembé upside down to the light. and better quality. the finer the tension on the skin can be set. 12. that doesn't linger too long. the inside should be smooth and flat. The more horizontal ropes there are. the easier to play.2. when the djembé is not in use. The slaps should "pop" and not be too difficult to create in relation to the open tones. and the more sound it creates without much effort. the less you can tune the djembé later on. unless you re willing to pay the price. The better the djembé. the type of wood determines the sound: usually a heavier wood means older wood. or "metal ringing". 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%. Then the woodwork: y y y y y there should be no rips or tears in the wood. Choosing a djembé 12.1.9. The tones will also have a clean sound and feel. there should not be many horizontal ropes. An in-tune djembe will have a crisp bass that can be easily heard. The best djembés cost up to 400 EUR. Nails and shells may cause the wood to split. with minimal overtone.

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

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

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

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

and making mental note of which is #1 and #2. 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. which all refer to the same weave tuning process. Some prefer the finished look of the S-Weave over other patterns. twist.the S-Weave and the Under-Weave. Again.13. and the S-Weave for additional rows if needed.The tuning rope passes over #1 and #2. As described above this process is known by many names. each of which is explained below with the help of pictures. 32 . close to the loops on the bottom ring. There are many different weave patterns. Either version can be used at any time. but we'd recommend using one or the other. each of which is used to achieve different objectives. Position the tuning rope as low as possible on the tuning pair. slide down. we only teach the two most common . 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. follow this pattern: over. The Under-Weave is an easier pattern to weave. Step 1: Over . between.4. First Row . for simplicity. 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. We've used a separate yellow tuning rope only to better illustrate the weave pattern. depending on the construction and tension of the drum. under.S-Weave (A) The S-Weave consists of five steps. which keeps the tension levels even. For most djembes we'd recommend using the Under-Weave for the first row of diamonds.. and will sometimes allow the knot to be positioned closer to the bottom rings than other versions. and to give an example of how to tie on an extra tuning rope if needed. This will help maintain a straight line as the horizontal row progresses around the drum. After determining which verticals are best to use as your tuning pairs.

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

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

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

13.The selection of tuning pairs for the second row will depend on which vertical pairs were twisted on the first row. you may find your drum looks like the one on the right. This knot may have a tendency to undo itself because of the pressure on the verticals. 36 . or "diamond". the verticals may already be very close together. with plenty of space between the verticals. The method for selecting is easy: First.4. which is no problem. Second.Step 3: Twist . Otherwise.Pull the tuning rope downward and outward until #1 and #2 twist. as indicated with the white arrow. Depending on which verticals were the tuning pairs on the first row. 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. The color-coded number of tuning pairs in the photo should help solve the mystery. so it may be necessary to pass the tuning rope underneath the next pair in order to keep it twisted. Select the verticals that are closest to each other near the top loops. Phase 3: The second row weave Pick the Pairs . creating a knot.

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

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

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

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

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. Hopefully the rows are straight and the diamonds are clear.The picture below shows an example of what the completed rows look like.Step 3: Twist . 41 . or "diamond".Pull the tuning rope downward and outward until #1 and #2 twist. and your drum sounds better as a result.. Step 4: Admire and Play . creating a knot.

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

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

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

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