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Djembe Drum Basics

29th Oct 2014

When it comes to giving a memorable gift, the Djembe drum stands out as a unique and special present for that person with a talent for music, a sense of adventure or for that person that seems impossible to buy for. A Djembe can bring a sense of awe and wonder to even the most stoic person, or provide a musical and rhythmic outlet for people of all ages. Djembe drums are works of art, as well, bringing cultural awareness to a home and a sense of unity throughout a community.

The Djembe drum originated in West Africa and was used as a tool for communication among tribes, as well as a featured instrument in celebrations and festivals. These goblet drums are available in various sizes and can be found in rope-tuned or key-tuned varieties. Modern Djembe drums are made from fiberglass and synthetic heads or carved from solid hardwoods with animal skin heads. Each type of Djembe drum manufacturing brings its own sound, style and functionality within a performance, drum circle or for those beginning a hand drumming journey.

Playing the Djembe is an experience in music, rhythm, fun and even health and wellness. Since the Djembe is played with the hands, no extras are needed to begin playing. The basics of playing a Djembe rely on three different techniques that allow a harmonious, rhythmic sound to be heard. The bass tones, a right-handed, “GUN,” and a left-handed, “DUN,” are played in the center of the drum. Edge tones are played at the rim of the Djembe, with the fingertips. Slap tones are a combination of both the bass and edge tones, but are played with an open palm between the rim and center of the Djembe. These are the sharp, crackling sounds of the Djembe’s rhythm.

X8 red black djembe

Properly caring for a Djembe will keep its beauty and tone lasting for years to come. When not playing the Djembe for an extended period of time, it is best to detune it in order to preserve the drum head. A small application of oil or lotion will also keep the natural skin of a Djembe soft and ready to play. Keeping the Djembe from extreme temperatures and out of direct sunlight will help to improve its life, as will a quality bag for carrying it from place to place.

When considering what instrument brings a unique sound and history into a professional, amateur or community music setting, the Djembe stands out among the crowd for its versatility and ease of play. For more information about buying a Djembe, be sure to check out our complete Djembe Buying Guide, a comprehensive tour through the ins and outs of the Djembe drum.