Hand drumming today is the evolution of inspiration, communication and ingenuity that can be traced to many different civilizations around the world. Drums have always been used to help people communicate with each other – we feel it today with the different rhythms that relay emotion and move us. However, when the world was much less connected through the postal service, television, radio, telephones and the Internet, communicating with those outside of a tribe or village was difficult, and drumming became an important method of getting a message across.
African Talking Drums are one such method that was used to communicate between tribes. Much like the Djembe or Ashiko drum, Talking Drums had a range of sound that could travel over long distances. But, due to the unique construction of these drums, there is much more wiggle room when it comes to the tone of the rhythm played. Not only are these drums able to mimic speech patterns, but, the cords that attach the drum heads to each side help to imitate speech inflection when the drum is played. The result is an interesting and complex rhythmic tonality that provides a deeper understanding of the message being conveyed.
Playing the African Talking Drums can be a fun skill to master. These drums re played with a curved stick or mallet, not the hand, and are cradled like a football. The arm is used to press against the cords of the drum, giving it that “talking” sound as the rhythm is played. Once the basics are mastered, it is easy to apply the technique to any genre of music, or just to get a new sound in a drum circle or drumming event.
Finding a new drum to play is one of the best parts of hand drumming, but, when a drum truly speaks to you, there is no choice but to take it home. African Talking Drums are a unique choice for any drummer, drawing a connection between rhythm, communication and the spirit of the drummer.