Drumming is a creative expression of one’s personality, emotions and a love of music that can reach into the hearts and souls of the audience or drum circle members. Even the most experienced drummer, however, can reach a point where inspiration is needed, and may wish to add new rhythms, drumming styles or performance techniques into an already stellar repertoire. When it comes to finding a new spark to drum, it can be as easy as following the beat of other drummers to get a new groove started.
Drisa Kone, noted for his proximity to a region in West Africa that is thought to be the center location of the sacred Griots, has brought the traditional Djembe rhythms and dance into the international music scene. Through his African apprenticeship and European presence, Kone has become one of the foremost Djembe drummers today.
Mamady Keita has released 13 drumming compilations throughout his career that began in Guinea, Africa, at the age of seven. As one of the best percussionists in Guinea, Keita was chosen to help form Le Ballet National Djoliba, a position that evolved from drummer to artistic director, before beginning a solo career. Today, Keita has established a percussion school, Tam Tam Mandingue, and is also involved with corporate team building through music and rhythm. Keita has also been cast in several films, including Africa Dance, featuring Harry Belafonte.
For a more modern feel, artist such as Paul Simon or Peter Gabriel both include Djembe drumming in their recordings and performances. Last year, Paul Simon released So Beautiful or So What, a culturally-encompassing album that features classical instrumentation, the sounds of nature, and, of course, Djembe drumming. This album was Simon’s first release in five years, and brought him back to his roots, in a sense, with his folk-inspired songwriting that perfectly mingles with the sounds of native drumming. Ben Harper also includes Djembe drumming in his work, creating a unique sound that can stir the creativity of any drummer, regardless of experience level.
Even the most prolific drummer can need a little boost when it comes to the inspiration to keep drumming. Through listening to, and even imitating the recording artists that either focus on drumming alone, or integrate the powerful rhythms of the Djembe into songs, the motivation to reach greater drumming heights can be as close as the drums themselves.