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.
In addition to conventional drum kits, they sell beautiful congas, Djembes, bongos & tambourines - including tuneable drums - in all price
ranges. Unique items include the very reasonably priced LP Jammer's Jambe, a multi purpose instrument that
produces a sound that has characteristics of both a Djembe and Doumbek, perfect
for teaching hand drumming techniques & for drum circles; and the Cyclops Shaker,
an ergonomically designed tambourine inspired by groove percussionist Bashiri Johnson.
While you're looking at the djembes, doumbeks, congas, and other "conventional" drum circle drums, explore some of the more
exotic ~ and
often inexpensive ~ percussion instruments that are available. OCEAN DRUMS are double headed frame drums with steel shot or seeds
inside; when they're tipped or shaken
they sounds like (you guessed it!) ocean waves. These drums can also be played by hand or with wooden &/or cloth-covered mallets
frame drums. And the tropical fish motifs are beautiful. Ocean Drums are also available with clear heads and in different sizes.
them and they're so much fun to play, they're often hard to get out of the hands of the adult drummers ;-)
Along with shakers and rattles, ocean drums are very cool additions to any drum circle or percussion class.
Large drum circles can be LOUD so safeguard your hearing!
I bought my
Checkmate sound level meter at Zzounds. It's portable and measures
decible levels up to 130.
They also have the best price I've found on
earplugs that reduce the volume without
changing the tone of the music by
reducing sound approximately 20 dB at all frequencies. They're great for concerts too. Zzounds
also carries some hand drums including congas,
tambourines, bongos and guiros.
The average person can handle a sound level of 85 db for 8 hours but every + 3 db increase can only be tolerated for half the time. For example: the loudest TEK I can manage on my doumbek logs in a 84db so I guess my ears... and my husband's... will survive my solo drumming sessions at home :-) But group drumming levels are usually significantly higher. Borrow or buy yourself a meter and check it out!
FYI, here are some average sound levels of various situations: