Djembe players - the real djembe topic, playing it!

Use this forum to discuss about all the other percussions and/or to suggest a new specified forum to add

Postby Bataboom » Fri Dec 31, 2004 10:04 pm

Enjoyed the previous one about how God created the tree that the people used to make them.... but really what about playing?

I play a 15 inch djembe a 12 and and a 10.

all rope djembes.

Edited By Bataboom on 1155475608
User avatar
Posts: 278
Joined: Mon Dec 27, 2004 4:28 am

Postby Tamborim » Mon Jan 10, 2005 4:49 pm

My respects.

I do own a 12" djembe. I must admit I chose not to buy a rope djembe. In fact I bought a fibreglass djembe with modern tuning. My reason for this was time. I simply don't have the time these days to rope djembes. The modern and easy tuning on congas and drum sets is what I am used to. The djembe itself is okay. A bit thin sounding to be honest. But it does cut and has a nice bass tone. Plus it is light. Something I appreciate on the road. The model I chose is an Elite Pearl djembe in purple. I mount it on a stand. I would not advise this drum to be played between the legs. The hardware digs into one's legs.

Thank you for the link.

All the best. T.
Posts: 28
Joined: Wed Dec 29, 2004 5:20 pm

Postby Héctor » Tue Jan 25, 2005 4:25 pm

Hello Tamborim,

I can only underline what you said about the Pearl Elite Fiberglass Djembe not to be played between the legs. Ít does hurt indeed. I bought the same one last Friday and I am glad I have also a Pearl All-Fit Stand. I think that Glen Caruba, who in my opinion was envolved in the design of it, ment it to be played on a stand and not between the legs. Playing "any" djembe between the legs might be more comfortable, since you are sitting, however, what the sound is concerned much of it is dampend by the floor, specially if you are playing on carpet floor or outdoors on grass. I like the sound best when carried the original way, hanging from your shoulders. Unfortunatelly I do have a problem with my neck so that I cannot play that way for a long time, but the sound is much better. The bass goes right through your stomach and makes your knees shake. And how about the slap! Sometimes I worry about my tympanums. I also have a Remo Djembe, a complete different sound, not bad, just different and heavier on the tinny, ringing tone. The Pearl one sounds thinner but somehow great. And I do also have a traditional african rope djembe, at present without a head which popped last time I tried to tune it up on fairly humid day.

Traditional djembes sound great, but if you don't live in a dry climate, they just require to much attention.

Be greeted and keep those hands dancing on the drum heads!


Edited By Héctor on 1106720314
De Madrid al cielo!
User avatar
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2004 1:25 pm
Location: Frankfurt, Germany

Postby zaragemca » Tue Jan 25, 2005 6:50 pm

Saludos the Djembe I use in my drumming ensemble is 14",I have the one with the rod-tunning systen so I could quickly change to differents pitches in relation to what we could be playing.

Edited By zaragemca on 1106679195
International Club of Percussionists
Posts: 789
Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2003 11:18 pm
Location: Houston,Texas

Postby CongaTick » Sat May 28, 2005 11:28 am

Respect to the djembe players on this thread. Just bought a Remo 16" to add to my 3 conga+bongo setup. Yup, it is a bit ringy, but it's the nature of this drum design by Remo, however, rather than try to kill it, I embrace it. This is a big drum with a ton of perc variations and contrasts. I've been working it into my tumbaos, gentling some strokes on swing, rock and funk patterns. Setup from left to right: bongos, tumba, conga, quinto, djembe. Haven't quite got its participation under command, but getting there. Have it on a home made stand which brings it off the floor and almost level with my sit-down positioned congas. The stand cost me less than $7 to build and works perfectly for this 27" drum with bass tones that'll stop your heart.
Posts: 1257
Joined: Sun Dec 29, 2002 3:49 pm

Postby Berimbau » Sat May 28, 2005 3:10 pm

Mi Amigos,
A few observations on this thread.......I'm quessing that like myself, most of my fellow posters here are primarily congueros. I started playing congas in NYC in the late 1960's, when other than Ladji Camara, the djembe couldn't get arrested there. Since the 1980's, there has been an absolute explosion of djembe activity internationally, especially here in the U.S. I think that is because these drums are FAR easier for a novice to play than congas are, teachers and videos were finally available, djembes are also FAR more affordable to purchase than congas (Remo Inc. as well as cheap African imports), not to mention that African peoples from Mali and the surrounding cultural areas had a MUCH larger overall impact on the development of U.S. music than peoples from either the Kongo or Yoruba Kingdoms did. Today the Djembe has really impacted the music scene. Like many Congueros, I was also seduced into the world of djembe, and did the obligatory research on it (Charry's book, djembe videos, lessons with Mamady).
The Kongolese/Yoruba centric aspects of my own Djembe playing is pronounced and undeniable. Thirty five years of conga playing will do that. Yet the traditional techniques used on congas and djembes are quite different. I'm not too sure that congueros really make the BEST djembefolas anyway, even in spite of there years of hand drumming. Quite frankly, we congueros tend to bring in our own Afro-Cuban or Brasilian cultural baggage that is alien to the West African djembe traditions. I wonder what many top African teachers really think of there U.S. students? Especially expert congueros!!!!! But afterall, many of them Do derive a good income from teaching djembe at clinics, schools, circles, selling books, cds, videos, etc. Eric Charry rightfully notes that VITAL cultural information regarding associated rituals and dances were NOT necessarily transmitted during the U.S. djembe explosion. Because of the closer proximity and relationships between the U.S. and the Caribbean, or even Brasil, language and cultural barriers were quite a bit less. A competent ballroom dancer in Iowa could come up with at least a watered down version of La Conga, Samba, or Rumba, but never a ritual Malian harvest dance!!!
Now this post is not meant in any way to discourage anyone from investigating the djembe, it's just a cultural observation of really HOW different these two drumming worlds are and the cultural assumptions that many have. For the record I play both a tuable Remo djembe (practical here along the ultra humid Gulf Coast) as well as a Malian rope-tuned djembe ( a beatutiful sounding but a complete pain in the ass drum)!!)
My admission: I really do feel that the tumbadoras are the most versitile of hand drums, and I am not unhappy that the pendulum has swung back to favor them again. The elegance of Afro-Cuban culture makes for the richest ajiaco, con mucho sabor!!!


User avatar
Posts: 356
Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2005 12:09 am
Location: Asheville, N.C.

Postby GuruPimpi » Sat May 28, 2005 9:57 pm


My first Love in hand percussion. 8 years ago I saw group Jungle Funk (Will Calhoun and Doug Wimbish from Living Color and Vinx, very good singer and percussionist from U.S. or Canada, don't know for sure), in a concert on a jazz festival in Ljubljana, capitol of Slovenija, they played... oh, needless to say, I instantly felt the call of percussion, Djembe specially. Till that moment I was a frontman, vocalist in a band and also had my tendencies as a drummer (drum set). Now, I sing a lot less in a bands, and many bands hire me for the recordings and gigs.

I started with cheap Cosmic percussion bongos and soon i got in contact with so caled my mother djembe, which i bought in Portugal and had there in 1 week 3 hotel gigs - GREAT!

today I play also doumbek and congas. My classic hand drum set up consists of Djembe as a main drum, Conga and bongas (tuned and played together). Very different, haven't seen any percussionist with that, mainly cause a lot of them play congas separated from djembe. Djembe is different from conga, but if i had to choose conga or djembe i would go for djembe, cause it's a personal thing (variety of sounds, dynamics) ; i didn't grow up in a society that is known for it's cultural, african or afro cuban rhythmics or instruments, in Slovenija those instruments are becoming more and more popular ansd in that manor i like the freedom that we are not stressed with the tradition of hand drums (which is trying to set which drums can be played together and which not); i have nothing against tradition, I am still learning from its legacy (from teachers, books, mainly videos), but i also feel that freedom gives you the main source of creativity within that (with a respect to tradition of course).

I have two djembes; the first one, which is typical african (rope tuning, goat skin) and needs to be retuned and Meinls 12'' with a cow skin (cow skin goes better together with a conga, by my taste). I am thinking of buying remo djembe, cause for me that's the Djembe (modern, good combination of tradition and modern approuch of sound and dynamics).

Djembe lovers, keep on grooving and posting!

User avatar
Posts: 487
Joined: Thu Dec 09, 2004 2:12 am
Location: Slovenija

Postby zaragemca » Tue May 31, 2005 3:56 pm

Greeting,to Berimbau,in relation to your question,I learned the Arara-Ewe Patterns of the Djembe since I was in Cuba growing up,becouse a lot of people,(some of them my ancestors),came to Cuba from Guinea, and they have they 'Cabildos', where those patterns were playing and melting with other to form the afrocuban Rumba which we know today.I've been teaching Djembe and other african percussion for around 10 years,(general percussion for 15 years),I have performed with Djembe players from Guinea,Senegal,South Africa,Ghana,and Nigeria,and in Ethiopian Bands.Also conducted advanced percussion teaching for student,(including africans),which had also performed with my Ensemble,they have been thrilled with my tecnique and resources for the Djembe playing.Dr. Zaragemca

Edited By zaragemca on 1117847227
International Club of Percussionists
Posts: 789
Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2003 11:18 pm
Location: Houston,Texas

Postby yoni » Fri Jun 03, 2005 9:36 pm

Hi all!

I like djembes, too. Here in Israel they seem now more popular than conga, but I was a conguero first, influenced so that I often apply conga techniques to djembe and other hand drums.

In his "Worldwide" album, Giovanni Hidalgo is quoted as saying he thinks conga has the "widest horizon" of any instrument...

I tend to agree - congas can be used to produce so many sounds - from atonal to tones at least as pure as those of any other instrument. Djembe is more atonal, but speaks musical languages of its own. I have a nice teak djembe which is quite heavy. With lighter djembes I often like to hold and play them in the same position as darbuka. I find they ring more this way.

All the best,
Yonatan Bar Rashi
Posts: 538
Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2003 12:52 pm
Location: Israel

Postby slapadrum » Fri Jun 03, 2005 10:46 pm

I play 12' and 16' remo djembes a rope tuned ashiko a doumbek and I have a pair of matador congas on the way to replace the ones I had stolen.I started off playing djembe ende up running a drum circle so I looked for other drums to round off the sound. Well I ended up falling in love with congas of course I still love all my other drums as well.As far as the ringing sound on the remos that is caused partly from the mylar in the head they use it on the bottom with another material on top.The other cause is the fact that the shell is very consistant with on a hand carved djembe it is irregular in shape and thickness.there are a couple of solutions .some take 1/2 in weatherstriping and spiral it inside the top of the shell .The other method is to put a few pieces on the bottom of the head in an irregular pattern some do both.I don't worry about it personally.
I once got to jam with Arthur Hull (known as the father of the modern drum circle) and spoke with him after the circle .He has designed a few drums for remo he delt with the ring problem by changing the interior of the shell.
Have any of you guys listened to Babatunde Olatunji he brought a lot of african influence to the us he got alot of inner city kids to play drums instead of joining gangs.Arthur was a good freind of his and was asked to lead the big jam at his funeral last year with santana and a horde of hand drummers and djun djun players.If you haven't heard babatunde check out drums of passion it was his first recording (and my favorite).
sorry for the novel
Posts: 24
Joined: Wed May 04, 2005 11:44 pm
Location: wichits ks

Postby zaragemca » Sat Jun 04, 2005 12:24 am

To Yoni, I could tell you, between one conga,and one Djembe,(there is more resources in the Djembe),it is all about skills and knowledge..To Slapadrum,..Babatunde did introduce the Arara-Ewe patterns in the U.S.,in the 1950's.
International Club of Percussionists
Posts: 789
Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2003 11:18 pm
Location: Houston,Texas

Postby yoni » Sun Jun 05, 2005 12:45 am

Hello Zaragemca,

I can see what you mean about more resources in djembe - probably more range from the deepest bass to the highest high notes than in conga, and the thinner djembe skin is more flexible for many effects. Congas seem to me to have more pure tones, though. But in the end, like you say, it all depends on the player's skill and knowledge.

Posts: 538
Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2003 12:52 pm
Location: Israel

Postby akdom » Wed Jun 15, 2005 9:31 am

Hi everyone
Djembe, djembe, djembe.......
I truly believe it is one of the best percussions ever created.
Check the online press kit of PLAPATA.COM
this site will be up and running soon. I am now working on the latin section (after spending over a year on the west african section). Just check it out and let me know what you think.
I might need some help on the latin section, so if anyone is willing to share some knowledge, don't be shy.


User avatar
Posts: 607
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2003 10:16 pm
Location: France

Postby davidpenalosa » Mon Jun 20, 2005 4:57 am

Hey B,
That's an ambitous project you have there. Your font size is way too small. I can't read it, evem with my glasses. Any chance of changing that? Also, "talking drum" is not the best way to catagorize the Yoruba pressure drums. The bata, Ewe drums and a good many African drums function as Surrogate speech. That's a red flag for me.

User avatar
Posts: 1151
Joined: Sun May 29, 2005 6:44 pm
Location: CA

Postby davidpenalosa » Mon Jun 20, 2005 5:21 am

Hi again,
I should clarify that I could read the larger font size, but not the smaller font you used. Thanks.

User avatar
Posts: 1151
Joined: Sun May 29, 2005 6:44 pm
Location: CA


Return to Other instruments

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests