Learning music and rhythm is a process that requires time, dedication and the talent to pull it all together. Whether playing piano, saxophone, guitar or Djembe, most people are unable to pick up an instrument and begin playing it with a virtuoso touch. Instruments typically require a gradual pathway toward their mastery, beginning with basic rhythms, notes or a combination thereof. With any world drum, learning the traditional rhythms for the drum can not only help with the overall education and ability to play, but can also add a depth to the rhythms produced through the study of the culture from which it evolved.
As the Djembe hails from West Africa, learning the rhythms of that area are almost a necessity to playing the drum to its greatest potential. Plus, many of the rhythms are fascinating snapshots of the culture that has been so important within the world music. For instance, the Kouroussa rhythm from Guinea is considered a seductive rhythm for young girls, or has been noted in “strong man” competitions within those tribes. The Fanga rhythm, perhaps introduced by an American woman in West Africa, is often heard as a type of welcome, while the Soro rhythm takes on a spiritual force, connecting to the life force within a seed and encouraging a bountiful harvest. All of these rhythms are historically heard during tribal celebrations and festivals, played on Djembe and Dun Dun drums and are accompanied by dancing, clapping and singing.
There are numerous African rhythms for the Djembe that can be easily researched online or through study with a hand percussion instructor. As a beginning hand drummer or expert Djembefola, the richness and culture provided by traditional African Rhythms for the Djembe can not only build a strong foundation for private or public performances, but can easily enhance the tone and emotion of a connection to a Djembe or other African drum. Learning these rhythms is fun, too, and can be inspirational throughout a drummer’s journey.