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How to Play the Djembe

Posted by X8 DRUMS Friday, July 13, 2007 0 Comments
It's important to understand the fundamentals of playing the djembe when you're first beginning. In fact even if you've been playing for years, it never hurts to go back to reviewing the basics. Too many times players have jumped into playing their instrument without properly understanding correct body positioning and playing technique. And when it comes to playing hand drums this can surely lead to sore hands and painful joints.

Playing Positions

I would venture to say that the sitting position is probably the most common position when playing the djembe. In this position, it's important to make sure you are using the right size djembe for your height. Sit on the front edge of a chair and place the djembe drum between your legs gripping each side with your knees. Tilt the djembe away from you so that the base of the drum is open. This is important as the bottom hole must be exposed in order to obtain a proper sound when playing. Some players will choose to hold the base of the drum with their feet for overall instrument control. Please remember not to lift the drum completely off the floor. If the drum is lifted off the floor when striking the head, it could slip and the base could hit the floor causing damage to your djembe.



It's vital that you keep correct posture when playing. Remember to keep your back straight so as to keep from slouching. Correct posture will ensure a longer playing time without the aches and pains associated with improper playing technique.

Basic Playing Strokes

The bass stroke is played with a hand at the center of the drum. The right hand bass note is called 'GUN', and the left is called 'DUN'. Essentially your goal is to bounce your whole hand off the skin without too much slapping sound. When struck correctly the tone will resonate out from the bottom of your drum. Take note that you don't have to hit the skin very hard. Your entire hand should be inside the rim of the drum, and should have a degree of firmness to it - not so firm that your hand is rigid, however not to loose either. Practice a few times so you can figure out what works for you. Remember, only one hand should be on the skin at a time.

Next is what's called as "edge tones". Edge tones are played at the edge of the drum where your hands are lined up at the rim of the djembe closest towards your body. Move your hands towards you until your knuckles have just come off the drum. The remaining pads of your fingers should be held over the drumhead. Striking the drumhead at the edge with the pads of your fingers will produce a type of ringing tone. The right hand stroke is called 'GO', and the left hand stroke is called 'DO'. You can play these tones by making your finger pads hit the skin very evenly or by striking the skin on more of an angle.
Learn to Play the DjembePerfect djembe instruction guide for anyone wanting to join a drum circle or to review the basics.


Lastly, there are the "slap tones". The slap tones have characteristics of both the bass and edge tones. The slap tones produce more of a 'crack' and bright sound, however they also have a little bass resonance. The slap tones are played near the edge of the drum, with your knuckle line over the rim of the djembe falling onto the playing surface. Relax your hand so that there is a little pocket of space between the drumhead and your hand. From here your fingertips should almost reach the middle of the drum and your palms should fall over the rim of the djembe. Your hand should bounce off the drumhead so that the fingertip pads flick quite sharply on and off the surface with a slap. The pocket of space under the palm gives the tone a hollow sound, and the flicking action produces a sharp sounding tone. As with the bass tones the reach of the fingertips towards the center of the djembe provide the lower tones. The right hand stroke is called 'PA', and the left hand stroke is called 'TA'.

Learning to play the djembe takes time, dedication, and a personal commitment of continuing at it until you get it right. Just like learning to play any other instrument practice is the main ingredient and perseverance is at the heart of improving your skills. But above all else remember to have fun and enjoy the process. After all, you're making music - what a treat!

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African Djembes are Handmade

Posted by X8 DRUMS Tuesday, July 10, 2007 0 Comments
African DjembeAfrican Deep Carve Djembe
When shopping for a djembe drum please understand that these musical instruments are hand made and will at times show natural imperfections. Here's a brief note on what not to worry about:

Most African djembe drums are hand carved in Indonesia or other parts in Asia from a single piece of wood (ex: mahogany). As such, many djembe drums are not going to be perfectly symmetrical or evenly built. It's just a natural part of the process. After all djembes are made with hand tools from skilled craftsman. In some cases the djembe drum will even be lopsided as it rests on the floor.


Next: Earth Friendly Djembe

Djembe Buying Guide


 


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Which Size Djembe is Right for Me?

Posted by X8 DRUMS Sunday, July 8, 2007 0 Comments
Small Djembe10" or 12" djembes are the recommended sizes for Kids (ages 8-12)

Large Djembe12", 13" or 14" Djembes are the recommended sizes for Adults
When selecting the right size drums it's more important to find a drum that is the correct height more so than the diameter of the drum. However, what you'll find when shopping for djembes is that the diameter of the drumhead increases as the height increases. You could say that they have a positive correlation.

You should select a drum that stands tall enough for you when sitting down to play. The base of the drum should rest on the floor and the drumhead should rise about two or three inches from the top of your legs, in a sitting position with the drum leaning away from you. If the drum is too low you will have a difficult time striking the head because your knees and legs will be in the way. On the flip side, if the drum is too tall you will find that you'll have to lift your shoulders when striking the head and this will surely lead to fatigue much quicker. You should always be in a comfortable position and shouldn't be straining your body when playing. Your movements should be fluid and smooth.

Here is quick reference table to help you get an idea of djembe drum sizes. Please note this table is not all-inclusive as djembe drums can and do vary in size depending on the manufacturer.

DJEMBE HEIGHT

HEAD SIZE

12"

7"

16"

8"

20"

10"

24"

12"

26"

13"

28"

14"


Example of Desired Djembe Positioning for Seated Players
(Performer is 5'9" playing 24" Tall X 12" Head Duafe Djembe)


Example of Desired Djembe Positioning for Standing



Next: Best Beginner Djembe

Djembe Buying Guide


 


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X8 Djembes

X8 Drums offers professional hand carved wooden shell djembe drums that are manufactured using legally certified timber that is environmentally sustainable.

Working closely with their overseas partners, X8 Drums imports the finest selection of beautifully handcrafted African djembe drums and accessories. The selection is diverse enough to appease beginners through professionals and everyone in between.
X8 Djembe


The brand takes great pride in educating consumers on how their buying decision can help to protect our world's forests, assist in preserving and maintaining a well-balanced eco-system and help support local economies.

Since X8 Drums djembes are imported directly, all middle-man costs are eliminated which means you can get an incredible djembe at wholesale prices.

View All X8 Djembes



Toca Djembes

Started by Kaman Music, the Toca brand is extremely well known for producing high quality African and more ethnic based djembe drums known as their Synergy line.

Toca Percussion produces both wooden djembes and more modern PVC constructed shells offering both traditionally styled and decorative instruments that look as good as they sound.

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Remo Djembes

A leader in the drumming industry, Remo has been making drumheads for more than 60 years. With 77 technology patent's, Remo drumheads are the world's most recorded drumheads and perhaps the most recognized name when it comes to all things drumming. Remo's World Percussion line of djembes are made with top-quality synthetic heads and synthetic shells known as 'Acousticon'. However please note, if you're looking for more traditionally based djembe drums with wooden shells and animal skin heads this brand it not for you.

View All Remo Djembes



Latin Percussion Djembes

Created of kiln-dried, environmentally friendly Siam oak and animal skin drumheads, Latin Percussion djembe drums are both traditional and modern. All Latin Percussion djembes use a mechanically based tuning system coupled with traditional wooden shells and hand selected animal skin drumheads. Latin Percussion has been producing their world percussion products for 40 years and has one of the most well respected and recognized names.

View All Latin Percussion Djembes



Tycoon Percussion Djembes

Tycoon has been making world percussion instruments for over 20 years and is one of the few companies that own their own factory located in Bangkok, Thailand, where most world percussion instruments are made.

They produce over 40,000 sets of percussion products per year including both rope-tuned and mechanically tuned wood djembes. Tycoon Percussion Instruments are renowned for their sleek, attractive appearance and durability. They only use the highest quality of raw materials, which, coupled with their skilled and experienced laborers, combine to produce djembes of the highest quality.

Tycoon Percussion Djembes



Mid-East Ethnic Instruments Djembes

As the name suggests, Mid-East is one of the largest importers of ethnic based world percussion products. Their djembe drums are typically imported from India, and Pakistan and are hand-carved using a single piece of rosewood with goatskin drumheads. Their djembes come in both rope-tuning and mechanically based tuning systems.

Mid-East Ethnic Instruments Djembes



Next: Which Size Djembe is Right for Me?

Djembe Buying Guide


 

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