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

but no further towards the palm.1. Image from http://etno.3.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. Playing a tone The fingers meet the edge of the drumhead simultaneously covering as large an area as possible.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.

but only because of your wrist whipping on the way down. You do not hit the drum harder for get a slap. Playing a bass The best sound is produced right in the centre.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. Strike firmly but avoid overdoing it: the volume will not grow endlessly by increasing the striking power. Playing with your hands too parallel instead of pointing somewhat inwards. This causes: 1) rotation of the wrist (causes sore wrists and forearm tendons.There is slightly more speed in a slap. Keep your palm stiff and flat and try to make the entire drumhead vibrate so that even the lowest frequencies can be heard. but it is often practical to hit where both hands have room for quick repetition of bass strokes. Common mistakes Sore thumbs .You may be play too far to the centre of the drum. 1.4. 6 .1. The amount of force you use should be the same and the whipping occurs naturally. Hitting harder to make slaps (see Advanced) . There is also and element of your hand learning to keep the thumb out to the way.

you can do 4 things: 1. producing a tone 4. 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.net. the Rumba 1.2. hit it. Writing down rhythms With a djembe.1. 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. hit it.djembe. 7 . You can download the Djembe Font from http://www. hit it. producing a bass 3. 12 or 16 steps like this (counting the do nothing steps). This allows you to simply keep your notes in a Word Document. Beginner 2. do nothing 2.

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

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

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

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

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 .

4. 1. 18. Rhythm Measure 4 Remark ËË ËË bsbt ()() rts+ [() Measure 6 3. 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. 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 . 19. 17. 5. 11. 6. 8. 2. Rhythms to play alone No. 7. 14.6. 15. 12. 20. 10. 9. 16.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. 10. 9. 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. 7. Rhythm Remark 2.7. Base 1. 6. 5. Playing Solo To be used as inspiration while playing solo No. 3.

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

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

If the skin is too loose the sound could be described as wobbly. with little overtone. the sound will be out of balance. with a quick "decay" (time it takes for the sound to disappear). creating a more full.html 13. if that tension isn't applied evenly around the circumference of the head. with minimal overtone. different pitches are created. it probably should be tightened. 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. Tuning a djembé Source: http://www. If the top rings of the djembe (where the loops attach and which holds the skin in place) are not even.10.2. Physical Indicators that your djembe needs tuning Regarding sight and touch indicators. almost like pushing into the top of a magazine resting on a table. A drum at proper tension should feel very solid. The first way to test for proper head tension is by pressing the pad of the thumb into the center of the head. this is an indication that the tension may not be even on the head. and significant distinction in sound between the bass and tone. the feel of the skin. being dropped lower on one side or the other. 28 .com/about/tune_djembe. but even so the movement should be limited to 0. The vertical ropes on a loose djembe can be moved with the fingers. even at similar tensions.5 cm maximum. and level of the rings can all help determine if the djembe should be tuned. resonant sound. Sound Indicators that your djembe needs tuning Regarding sound. whereas on a tight djembe the ropes will feel stiff and immobile. 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). and the bass response will be somewhat weak or even non-existent. By having even tension the skin will vibrate at the same level all the way around the drum. The tones will also have a clean sound and feel. the more localized the movement will be to the immediate space around the thumb (i. leaving the sound flat or muted. and a taught skin will only move in slightly within about 2 cm from where your thumb is pressing into the skin). and reapplied as evenly as possible.1. Even though a djembe may have enough tension. a loose skin will show movement of the skin from the edge to the center when pressed. or "ringing". that doesn't linger too long.djembedirect. 13. the bass and open tones should sound clean. movement of the rope. Bear in mind the thicker the skin the less movement there will be. In this case the tension should be undone. The slaps should "pop" and not be too difficult to create in relation to the open tones. When one side or section of the djembe head is tighter than another. An in-tune djembe will have a crisp bass that can be easily heard. The tighter the skin.e. so the rings maintain a straight line horizontally. The taller the drum the more movement will be found in the vertical ropes.

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

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

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

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

and feeds up between #1 and #2.Step 2: Between . 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. and feeds up to the side of #2.The tuning rope passes around and underneath #1 and #2. Be sure not to pass the tuning rope underneath additional verticals (potentially #1 and #2 of the next pair). Step 3: Under . 33 .

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make sure that the line created is straight. Step 2: Between .The tuning rope passes over #2 and under #1. and that it is positioned as close to the bottom loops as possible.Second Row . 40 . or between the pair. 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.The tuning rope passes under #1 and #2. 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..Pull the tuning rope downward and outward until #1 and #2 twist. or "diamond". creating a knot. Step 4: Admire and Play . and your drum sounds better as a result.Step 3: Twist . Hopefully the rows are straight and the diamonds are clear. This knot may have a tendency to undo itself because of the pressure on the verticals. 41 .The picture below shows an example of what the completed rows look like.

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

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

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

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