Slapping the djembe?

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Postby Attilio » Wed Feb 14, 2007 8:51 am

When the Djembé is looked at as a percussion instrument in general, there are in fact a lot of techniques that one can use, I personally play them even with sticks or my whiskers (some kind of brushes, but in plastic, to protect the goat-skin). Awesome slap! :D

In is's traditional, West-African context, the Djembé comes in Ensembles with up to three bassdrum players (Kenkeni / Sangban / Doundoun) and additional Djembé-players. There are many traditional arrangements that have their original background (field work / celebrations / rituals / religious context etc.) Every drum-voice of the Ensemble is more or less fixed and is not variated much by the Ensemble. The rhythms themselves, yes they differ from one village to the other.

In that context, mainly the Djembé soloist is somewhat free to step out of the traditional rhythms, stretching time, dynamics and speed and of course using additional techniques for his slaps and the other beats. Mainly there, we find that it is not so much about technique itself, but more about playing through ones ears. As well as we do not find much originally transcripted notes, most of that job was done in the past few years by "western" visitors.

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Postby deadhead » Thu Feb 22, 2007 8:01 pm

When I play slaps on Djembe I play in the same position as the open tone, spread my fingers slightly and strike the drum first making connection with the meaty part of the hand directly under the fingers and roll the fingers on to the drum allowing minimal rebound. Just like if you're slapping someone in the face. It works for me.

Find what works for you, everyone is going to have a slightly different technique, and never let anyone tell you that theres only 1 way to do it. A lot of people get hung up on traditional methods, but in order to be a good musician you must be able to inovate, take the basic idea and make it your own, otherwise every drummer is gonna sound the same.
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Postby Chupacabra » Mon Jan 21, 2008 4:18 am

During the workshops that I have taken with djembefola Mamady Keita this very subject is discussed. Basically, his words were: "I don't even think about it - I just make it sound the way I want it to."
I can relate to what he is saying - of course it is easier said than done. The bottom line is that you have to practise a lot and really, really get to know your drum intimately to know how it responds to subtle finger and and positions.
After the first few months of learning percussion I began to realize that there are many conflicting "rules" and the best thing to do is just find your way.
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Postby Gallichio » Mon Jan 21, 2008 4:28 am

Same as open slap for congas.
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Postby OLSONGO » Mon Jan 21, 2008 4:47 am

Gallichio... not necessarily, the hand is more open; and its a quicker release of the head.


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