Originally from West Africa, the
djembe has spread around the world to
become the hallmark instrument of the world-beat movement.
Since at least 500 A.D., the djembe has been used in healing ceremonies,
rites of passage, ancestor worship, warrior rituals, and social dancing.
This djembe was hand-carved in Africa from a solid hardwood log using
traditional techniques. Check out my new Djembe page for
a bit more history on the instrument, a (very!) short & basic tutorial, descriptions of
different types of drums and some of my
favorite African music that's currently available on CD.
The doumbek (also sometimes spelled dumbek) is a goblet shaped drum that originated in the Middle East. It's generally played by holding the drum in your lap under your left arm and striking it with the fingers of both hands. The heavy down beats in Middle Eastern rhythms are usually played on the right (dominant) hand and the other hand is used for fill beats and other accents. If you've heard bellydancing music, you've heard a doumbek. This doumbek is made of carved wood; others are ceramic or made of metal. Since this is the drum I play the most, I've created a special page for doumbeks with a bit of history, descriptions of the different types of doumbeks with the merits of each type plus places to buy drums, instructional videos and CDs.
The Bongos originated in West Africa, but the shape and instrument that we know today developed in Cuba. Bongos are traditionally played in pairs and were originally designed to be played supported between the knees. This set of bongos has a wooden shell but you can also find bongos made of fiberglass.
Congas originated in West Africa, but modern congas are usually based on a Cuban design. You can get a single drum like this one or buy a conga paired with a slightly smaller Tumba or Quinto for more variations in tone. They're played with the hands and can be played sitting or standing. This Conga is made of wood but they also come in fiberglass.
A family of West African instruments related to the Nigerian Culture, the Ashiko is a cone-shaped drum. Its shape produces rich, balanced tones: a crisp, dry slap and sustained, sonorous bass. Some are tuned with drumkeys and some are rope-tuned like this one. Traditionally they are made of wood, like this engraved rosewood ashiko.
The frame drum is one of the earliest musical instruments known and it's found all over the world. This bodhran is an Irish frame drum usually played with a small double ended stick called a tipper. It's similar to the Middle Eastern Tar, though Tars are usually played with the hands. Another type of frame drum is the Bendir, a Moroccan frame drum with snares stretched across the inside of the skin for a buzzing sound. One of the most famous styles of frame drum is the large, low-toned Native American drum sometimes called a Buffalo Drum. It's traditionally played with a padded mallet.
A tambourine is basically a frame drum with jingles around the rim. This is another common instrument with ancient roots; it seems to turn up everywhere. Tambourines come with and without drumheads, tunable and fixed pitch, and in many different sizes. Depending on the part of the world it's from, a tambourine might be called a Gaval, Kanjira, Riq, Mazhar, Pandeiro, Pandereta or Tamburello.
Learn to play doumbek (dumbek, darbuka) with New York's most beloved Arabic percussionist, master instructor
Amir Naoum. If you are a beginning drummer, this DVD will serve as a very accessible, friendly and solid introduction
to the art of Middle Eastern percussion.
This program is a beginner-level doumbek instructional course with a lot of beyond-the-basics information and spectacular
demonstrations of Middle Eastern drumming and dance rhythms, so it's great for bellydancers too.
Syllabic notation is displayed onscreen, progressively changing in real time as the instructor plays the rhythms and
exercises. There are extensive chapter selection menus with individual access to each rhythm, exercise, type of sound, etc.
Rhythms covered include Malfouf, Ayoub, Maksoum, Baladi, Saiidi, Soumbati, Masmoudi and Ciftitelli including many variations
of each rhythm, some using fills, slaps and pops.
Robin starts you off with hand, body & breathing warm-up exercises,
teaches a variety of doumbeks tones from basic to advanced including
ayub, baladi and cheffte telli, then demonstrates how to combine and
vary the rhythms. The video ends with an impressive performance... something
to shoot for :-)
Beginning through advanced techniques in Arabic drumming style with
opportunities to play along with an actual middle eastern band in
between lessons. Learn beledi, maqsum, chiftetelli, malfuf, khaligi,
ayyub & karsilamas plus how to switch rhythms & play for bellydancers.
On this hand drum CD, T. Roy clearly demonstrates how to play 30 of the most popular Middle Eastern Rhythms used in music and dance today. His "say it / play it" approach makes learning these ancient rhythms simple and fun. Included in the inset of this CD are the written and spoken phrases for each rhythm.
This book teaches you the basics of Djembe drumming
and includes a great sounding CD to play along with
that's mixed so you can adjust the balance on your stereo
to hear one drum part at a time.
An excellent introduction to
playing the djembe.
This DVD provides a study of traditional Djembe technique, enabling you to play with confidence and clarity. It includes the following exercises:
- Interactive Ensembles that allow you to hear only the drums you want and silence the rest. For instance, hear all drum parts, Djembe only, or just Dunun. Eight options total!
- Basic Yoga warm-ups chosen especially for Djembe drummers.
- Infinitely looping practice rhythms appropriate for all levels, beginner through advanced.
- Develop bass, tone, and slap in order to speak clearly on the drum.
- Question & Answer exercise designed to get you "out of your head" and into the feel of the music.
- Ghosting exercises in binary & ternary.
- Polyrhythmic & polymetric exercises.
- Complete maintenance & tuning instructions.
The acknowledged master of African drumming presents essential techniques, rhythmic patterns and concepts for drummers of all levels. The spiritual powers of 'the drum' and drumming are the focus of this video. Inspiring lessons and performances will expand anyone's playing on the Ashiko, Djembe and related drums.
Thione Diop teaches you five traditional Senegalese rhythms passed down from many generations
Watch and learn as Thione plays the rhythms Aconcon, Diba, Djan, Kotoba, and Wango.
Karaoke style notation:
Follow the notes as they are played; pick up wherever the rhythm is and never be lost again.
Easy menu navigation using your remote. Each rhythm has an intuitive menu to get to the
part you want to learn. Over 70 different videos and over 240 audio tracks to choose from.
Each part plays in a loop so you can keep practicing the same part without touching the remote.
Two djembe accompaniments per rhythm. Dunun rhythms have separate parts for the dununba,
sangban, and kenkeni. Each part has SLOW and FAST versions.
Ensemble videos include all djembe and dunun parts playing the rhythm.
Choose to hear different combinations of drums by utilizing the adio tracks on the DVD. Thione solos to some of the fast rhythms.
The "Rhythm Info" section is of Thione talking about the rhythm's origin and when it is played.
Information of when to play the part in relation to the break is also included.
There are four audio tracks per part. Play the part alone, or with the other instruments.
Each instrument is mixed for separation so you can hear the relationships.
John Yost is a facilitator, rhythmatist and educator. He has performed and recorded
nationally. As a facilitator, John has facilitated rhythm based events in various settings
in many parts of the world. He has studied in Africa , Japan and the U.S.A. with numerous master
You can easily navigate through this DVD to find the rhythms you want to play using your remote.
Each part has SLOW and FAST
versions so you can easily follow along.
The "Rhythm Info" screens give information of the rhythm's origin and when it is played.
Information of when to play the part in relation to the break is also included.
If you're a beginner, follow the notations at the bottom of the screen while playing the "slow" versions; as you gain skills,
play along with the faster sections.
Learn the essential drum tones, a diverse assortment of African rhythms, and Steve's highly effective singing
and drumming exercises. Topics covered include natural tone, bass, slap and touch strokes ~
"In Time" and "Free Flow" improvisation exercises ~ traditional Kakilambe, Econcon, and Lendjien rhythms
presented with cultural introductions, individual parts, and group performances ~
interviews offering insights into the world of Djembe drumming.
There's also an internet component that offers notation of the rhythms, special Djun Djun (bass drum) parts,
further "In-Time" and "Free-Flow" exercises, special question and answer opportunites, and more.
For beginning through intermediate skill levels.
Learn basic frame drum technique and interlocking rhythms from Layne Redmond.
Not only is Layne a master of the frame drum & tambourine but
she's a great teacher, putting the focus on your learning, not on her performing.
You'll also learn a bit about how drumming connects to religion, history, physics,
and psychobiology from this fascinating lady who also is the author of
When the Drummers Were Women: a Spiritual History of Rhythm
A revolutionary approach to hand drum techniques, this book is based on world music traditions and is equally relevant to players ranging from weekend drum circle enthusiasts to professional percussionists. The text presents standard rhythm patterns in an easy-to-understand manner that will unlock every player's creative potential. Includes: exercises to develop technique, rhythm and reading; traditional music notation combined with Indian rhythmic syllables; detailed illustrations of hand positions; an index of hand drumming strokes; and more. The accompanying 41-track CD demonstrates many of the exercises and provides play-along examples.
Geared towards the novice drummer,
basic drumming and
rhythm concepts are explained
very clearly and simply in the well illustrated book and
the CD includes graduated exercises and play-along tracks.
This would make a wonderful introduction to hand drumming for children.
Learn step by step how to play the conga drum using authentic Afro - Cuban Rhythms: calypso, bomba, conga, rumba and bembe. The clear text, illustrations and simple charts make learning these beats easy. The player can hear all 175 rhythms in the book on the included CD
Here are instructions for beginning hand drum players who want to play rhythms with contemporary
music. All you need is one drum --
a djembe, a conga, or anything else you can get both your hands on.
Whether your goal is to play in a band, jam in the park, or just drum along with your favorite
CDs, this book will show you how, step by step. Includes dance grooves and others
based on traditional African or Afro-Cuban rhythms. Includes book and CD.
A video masterclass of traditional conga techniques mixed with funk, jungle and Cuban music from the virtuoso master percussionist Miguel 'Angua' Diaz. Known for his remarkable soloing and multiple conga/percussion inventions, Anga has recorded and toured with Irakere, Steve Coleman, Roy Hargrove, The Afro-Cuban All-Stars, Ruben Gonzales, Danilo Perez, David Sanchez and many others.
In the video, Anga takes an insightful look at the future of congo playing.
Through a methodology based in tradition, he demonstrates many of his systems and the forms
he uses to develop dextrous patterns, riffs and solos.
In his video The Art of Hand Drumming,
step-by-step instructions take you from fundamental one-handed
techniques applicable to the western tambourine to advanced techniques
using both hands and individual fingers.
Finding Your Way With Hand Drums Video is a user-friendly guide on the spiritual and musical essence of handdrumming. Technical aspects explored include basic drum strokes and tones, creating and holding a rhythmic groove, dynamics, tonal textures, and drumming on non-conventional or 'found' instruments.
Both videos come with instructional booklets.
"Women's spirituality circles have taken to drumming in a big way.
Redmond has been a leader in reintroducing the frame drum, which, she persuasively argues,
has been an instrument of spiritual transformation for millennia.
Her marvelous book brings together mythology, history and prehistory,
personal experience, musical lore, and scientific information on the
healthful effects of drumming. Scores of illustrations show stately
goddesses holding frame drums, wild maenads tossing their heads as they pound,
and priestesses sanctifying space with the rhythms they beat.
Redmond's own story of learning drumming in a society in which women are
still actively discouraged from taking up the drums is a paradigm of female experience.
Wise and passionate, Redmond's book will find a ready audience, made up not only of those
who have attended her popular workshops but also of other women drawn to the ecstatic pulse of
the drum." ~ thanks to Patricia Monaghan, author of
The Goddess Path
for this review
Drummer, dancer, and folklorist Sule Greg Wilson introduces the principles behind African and Diaspora music, including breath, posture, and orchestration.
In the personal story of internationally acclaimed drummer Yaya Diallo we see the power
of music as a sacred, healing force in West African culture.
The Healing Drum traces the extraordinary cultural legacy of the Minianka tribe of West Africa, for whom music serves a sacred, healing function for the individual and society. The authors explore the Minianka view of humanity, music, and the cosmos relative to work, celebration, herbal medicine, dance, trance, initiation, and death.
Mason's book has many drawings of original drums and their designs.
He gives detailed practical instructions on how to build drums, hand-frame drums and a
The book is a classic on woods craft type drum building.
specializes in Middle Eastern music, especially hard-to-get CDs. Their catalog includes musicians from all over the world; one of my favorite "Middle Eastern bands" is from California! Founded by Jeremiah M. Soto, Solace has been known to fans of tribal bellydance and drumming for years. . Rhythm of the Dance is great for doumbek drummers to play along to; the tracks are even named after classic Middle Eastern rhythms (Beledi, ChifteTelli, Masmoudi, Saidi, etc). Sha'waza, The Gathering Season and Ahsas add inspiring oud, saz and other melodic instruments to the mix. Maqam also carries doumbek teacher Mary Ellen Donald's "Gems of the Middle East" series and CDs by master drummer Hossam Ramzy, George Abdo, and bellydancer Jalilah. (Yes, this music is also perfect for inspiring aspiring bellydancers :-) And most of the album pages include streaming audio so you can hear samples before you buy.
My own collection of handcrafted earrings & necklaces inspired by the natural healing properties of the stones and the magic of dance, music & rhythm... they're made to move with you :-)