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In 1985, after several years of amateur drum playing, I took my first djembe workshop
In 1985, after several years of amateur drum playing, I took my first djembe workshop
In 1985, after several years of amateur drum playing, I took my first djembe workshop with Adama Drame. This
encounter was decisive. I was immediately attracted to the instrument and the music, and have dedicated myself to
them ever since. Given the growing interest in traditional African music, especially percussion, I wantedto makeavailable
a book that both places the instrument in its African contextand enablesthe reader to start to learn to play.
It would be pretentious to try to produce an exhaustive work on so vast a
It would be pretentious to try to produce an exhaustive work on so vast a subject. Since traditional
music is usually
passed on orally, the transcription of African rhythmics might be open to criticism and using Westernnotation to write
down a type of music which is radically different might seemarbitrary.
My goal is not to establish absolute or limiting rules, but rather to pass on in written form a synthesis of my personal
research and experience to others interested in this extraordinary instrument.
This book is not just a simple methodfor learning an instrument. It isfor a wider audience: percussionistsfrom all back-
grounds, percussion teachers, instrument makers and music lovers will all find it instructive.
The beginning percussionist cannot claim to "play like a pro " after reading this book. Regular practice is neces-
sary, as well as a certain rigor
and, above all, supervision by an experienced teacher who will help and guide him or her
in this work.
Several trips to WestAfrica will bring him into direct contact with the djembe's cultural milieu and give him theplea-
sure of playing with local musicians. Africa's unique atmosphereis indispensablefor learning to play really well. In the
meantime,a compact disk has beenincluded to enable the reader to better understandand interpret the written material.
The repertory given here is not simply "African inspired". The rhythmspresentedare real traditional standard rhythms
whoseauthenticity and accuracy havebeenconfinned by sucheminentmusiciansasAboubakar Bamba,KoumgbananConde,
[.amine Soumah, Mamady Kei"ta,Noumoudy Kei"taand SouleymaneDembele. I sincerely thank themfor their interest.
In contributing to the making of this document, they have helped give a new dynamic to percussion and WestAfrican
rhythmics in the world.
I would also like to expressmy gratitude to Morton Potash, Franr;ois Kokelaere, Jean-Pierre Journet, Julien Andre,
Modibo Bah, Ravy Magnifique and YoussoufTata Cissefor their help and advice.
The reader will find here a pedagogical aid, written with passion and all possible accuracy, allowing him or her to taste
the pleasure of playing this instrument. I hope it will arouse a desire of one day attaining the musical excellence of the
great masters.
And now the momenthas come to turn to the djembe and its music ,
SergeBlanc
-4-
4 ~
4
~
4 ~ ~ oundjata, a thirteenth-century mythical and legen- .> dary hero, had a great destiny.
4 ~ ~ oundjata, a thirteenth-century mythical and legen- .> dary hero, had a great destiny.
~ oundjata, a thirteenth-century mythical and legen- .> dary hero, had a great destiny. A
~ oundjata, a thirteenth-century mythical and legen-
.> dary hero, had a great destiny. A great among the
greatest,he is attributed a very important role in tradi-
tional Mandingo history. The main eventsof his life are
recountedin chroniclesof thetime andin numerousAfri-
can history books. His story is told in "Janjon" and
"Soundjata Fasa", the Saga of Soundjata, the most
famous Mandingo epic chant(l).
The storygoesthatSogolonKedjougou,oneof the wives
of Fara-Koro Makan Kegni, gave birth to a sick boy,
who was paralyzedfor seventeenyears.He was called
Soundjata. Soundjatahad a stepmother,TassoumaBerete,who hel-
pedher son,DakaranTouma, Soundjata'shalf-brother,
usurp the throne. Soundjata'sastonishingstrengthand
generosity had made Tassouma Berete jealous and
fearful; she plotted against him. Sheandher sonexi-
led Soundjata,the soleheir to the throne,along with his
whole family. They went to Nema, where his mother
died on the eve of his departureto reconquerhis native
country. Soundjataprosperedon the way back, sealing
alliances,sacking and submitting the different peoples,
who then becamehis vassals.At the historic battle of
Kirina, Soundjata and his Mandingo allies triumphed
over SoumangourouKante, King of the Susu.
Soundjatawas proclaimed Mansa,or Emperor, King of
Kings. He then laid the foundations of the Mandingo
Empire, the Empire of Mali.
He developedagriculture,which becamethe main basis
of the economy, and oriented trans-Saharancommerce
towards gold trading, ruining the Maninka slave trade,
which he later abolished.
In the realm of social relations, there was real inno-
vation. Castedifferentiation becamemore systematic.
Preexistinggroupsweredivided into threeimpermeable
strata: the horon (important people and nobles), the
nyamakala(2) (caste members) and the jon (slaves).
Each stratum's role was well defined by rules of
centuries-old customs. The essential duty of the
nobles, placed at the top of the hierarchy, was to
oversee the group's safety. Caste members were to
entertain and satisfy the material needsof the group.
The slavesdid the hardest and most unpleasantwork.
Soundjataalsocodified the clan system.Tradesandpro-
fessionsbecamehereditary: from that time on, the son
hadto follow in his father's footsteps.There areseveral
'versions of Soundjata's end. Like his life, his deathis
shroudedin mystery.The most widespreadversion says
that he drowned in the Sankaranninriver.
The Empire of Mali reachedits height during the reign of Kankou Moussa, known asMansa Moussa1(1342-
The Empire of Mali reachedits height during the reign
of Kankou Moussa, known asMansa Moussa1(1342-
1360).The empire stretchedfrom the Atlantic Oceanto
the west of Gao on the Niger River.
Kankou Moussa won fame with his celebratedpilgri-
mageto Mecca, a pilgrimage that is still legendary.
During hisjourney, he distributedsomuchgold (12 tons,
it is said),that he causedthe Cairo preciousmetalsmar-
ket to crash,therebyearninganextraordinaryreputation.
A pious sovereign,he had many mosques built in his
colonies, contributing to the spreadof Mali's renown
beyond the bordersof Sudanand attracting many Arab
travellers to his country. The most famous of thesewas
the Moroccan Ibn Battuta, who came in 1352. At that
time, MansaMoussareignedover a vastandprosperous
empire. After his death,internal quarrelsweakenedthe
government.Vassalseverywhereroseup andthrew off
the Malian yoke, among them the Wolof and Sereri
peoples.The Mandingo Empire disintegrated.
Many kings were born in the historical land of the
Mandingo empire. They are the heroes and warriors
whom the griots throughout West Africa continue to
glorify as if they were still alive.
After several years of French colonization under the
name of French Sudan, Mali became an independent
and sovereignrepublic on September22, 1960.During
Modibo Kelta' s presidency,the first republic experien-
ced severeeconomic difficulties, amplified by social
crisis. Seriousconflicts arosewithin the national direc-
tion of the single political party, the USRDA, creating
a political crisis. This led to a military takeover on
November 19, 1968, under the direction of Lieutenant
MoussaTraore, who ruled the country single-handedly
for 23 years.He was overthrown by the tragic eventsof
May 26, 1991, enabling the establishment of a multi-
party, democratic system.
Colonizationconsiderablymodified themapof theMan-
dingo region and dispersedthe Maninka peoples.Their
zone of influence currently includes parts of Burkina
Faso, the Ivory Coast, Gambia, Guinea-Conakry and
Guinea-Bissau,Liberia, Mali, SenegalandSierraLeone.
The Maninka belong to a Mandingo family that in-
cludes many prestigious ethnic groups, including the
Bamana, the Kaado, the lula, the Soninke, the Susu
and the Syenara.
Mandingo music today is conquering the world under
the leadership of star musicians as well-known as
they are talented, such as Ami Kolta, Salif Kelta,
Mory Kante
1.Thissagacomprisesseveralhundredversesthat are played, sung,dancedand discussedduring importantceremonies. 2. Theterm
1.Thissagacomprisesseveralhundredversesthat are played, sung,dancedand discussedduring importantceremonies.
2. Theterm nyamakaladesignatesgroupswithin different clanscomposedof the
- Jali: griots,
- Numu:smiths,specialistsin iron and other metals,
- Garanke:cobblersor dyers,
- Fune:a kind of holy beggar.
- 6-
Faso Bwaor Bobo Fulbe Jula Sarnogo Dafin Gurumance Lobi Syenara Busa Gurusi Mosi or Senufo
Faso Bwaor Bobo Fulbe Jula Sarnogo Dafin Gurumance Lobi Syenara Busa Gurusi Mosi or Senufo
Faso
Bwaor Bobo
Fulbe
Jula
Sarnogo
Dafin
Gurumance
Lobi
Syenara
Busa
Gurusi
Mosi
or Senufo
Dagari
" Coast
Aboron
Bete
Fulbe
Wob6
Koyaga
Ani
Birifu
Yakuba
Gagu
Maninka
Bole
Gere
Atiye
Syenara
Barnana
Dan
Guroor Kweni
Turuka
Bawule
Jula
Ebiriye
'-
Jalunke
Landuman
Maninkaor Malinke
Nalo
Susuor Soso
Temine
Baga
Basari
Jula
Tornaor Lorna
Fulanior Peul
Kisi
Tuculeri
Gereze
Koniagi
BamanaorBambaraKaadoor Dogon
Bela
Kakolo
Bozo
Kasonke
Sarnogo
Somono
Songolor SonraY
Bwa
MamaraorMiyankaSoninke,Sarakoleor Maraka
Tarnasheqor Touareg
Tuculeri
Wasulunke
Wolof
Fulbeor Peul
Maninka
Surakaor Moor
Jula
Mosi
Syenara
-
Basari
Tuculeri
Fulbe
Wolof
Jula
Lebu
and Gambia
Maninka
Sereri
Soninke
Suraka
Fune
ethnic class groups
Jali
Numu
Garanke
Maabo
-
usedfor the namesof ethnic groups, instruments and rythms is that of the mandingo alphabet.The
---c-'
"j" is pronounced like the "dy"
in "Goodyear".
The letter "u" is pronounced like the "00"
in "boot".
The
, is pronouncedlike the "a" in "cape". The original spelling, derived from the French, is usedfor
names.
-7-
, n WestAfrica, in thegreatfeudalsocietieslike theMali Empire, where many, codified castesdefined the social hierarchy,
, n WestAfrica, in thegreatfeudalsocietieslike theMali Empire, where many, codified castesdefined the social hierarchy,
, n WestAfrica, in thegreatfeudalsocietieslike theMali Empire, where many, codified castesdefined the social hierarchy,
, n WestAfrica, in thegreatfeudalsocietieslike theMali
Empire, where many, codified castesdefined the
social hierarchy, the griots, or bards, becamean object
of the highest esteem. As the society's heralds, they
were respected,courted and feared.
Within the highly structuredandhierarchicalMandingo
society, the griots orjaliw
in oratorical art and music.
were a casteapart, engaged
According to the renowned specialist Kele Monson Diabate, their origin goes back to the times
According to the renowned specialist Kele Monson
Diabate, their origin goes back to the times of the prophet
Mohammed. Legend has it that the Prophet gave his
slave Bilali three coffers intended for his three grand-
sons who afterward went to Mandan and founded the
village of Kikoronin. According to oral tradition, the
Maninka came from Mecca.
Griots may be men or women; they are surrounded by
an aura of mystery. Called "belen tigui"(l) they are the
keepers of the oral tradition. One is a griot by heredi-
tary filiation. It is therefore possible to enjoy this status
without practising any of its extremely difficult tasks
and activities. Great griots are rare.
In Manden, the oldest griots travel very little, remaining
attached to tradition and the land where they were born.
They are settled there, serving a king or a power on whom
they in turn depend.
Lower caste, they are both loved and despised. They
do no manual labor and do not work the land, but are
supported by the nobles. While still very young, their
children learn the art of public speaking and develop
their memory, which becomes their working tool.
These genealogists, story-tellers and musicians generally
have very common names, like Kouyate, Diabate or
Cissoko. Some of them are also healers, for they are
initiated in the secrets of nature and plants.
The griot was therefore the depository of a dynasty's
history, of a genealogy, the people's living memory,
indispensable for perpetuating institutions. His skill
was revealed during large public events glorifying his
superiors, in the presence of other nobles accompanied
by their own griots who knew the content of what would
be said and chanted. He proved his competence by being
clever enough not to cause the nobleman whose praises
he sung to lower his head in shame.
The griot was also bellicose. He was the one who goa-
ded the kings to fight to the death in combats that were
motivated by glory, power, acquisition of land and also
of beautiful women (the kings in general had thirty wives).
Some griots started wars, like the one who one day
obstinately refused to sing for King Biton of Segou.
"What's wrong?" the King finally asked. "It's in your
kingdom, sire, that nothing is right," replied the griot. "The prettiest girl of the Empire
kingdom, sire, that nothing is right," replied the griot.
"The prettiest girl of the Empire lives in the village of
the neighboring kingdom and you haven't married her
yet! How can I sing your praises?"
Upon hearing thesewords, the king preparedhis army
and launched a war to abduct the girl, whom he then
married. One doesnot say "no" to a griot. It is amatter
of honor.
Before the written word wasused,the griots taught and
exchangedknowledge orally. To learn from the source,
the young griots left the family
home and went to study
with a great master. They did domestic work for him
until they earnedhis trust.When hejudged themcapable
of learning, he beganteaching them "buruju"(2) which
enabledthem, among other things, to realize that they
wereof good stock:therewasalwaysaheroamongtheir
ancestorswho servedasa referencepoint.
After their minds had beenopened,learning asmuch as
they could absorb,they left the master and becamein
their turn keepersof the "tarik".
Today, living mainly in cities, unableto claim to belong to a particular masterdue to changesin
Today, living mainly in cities, unableto claim to belong
to a particular masterdue to changesin
social and geo-
political structures(the royal courts have disappeared),
the griots have become independent. True profes-
sionals of speech,show and music, they are mastersof
ceremony for local festivities in their communities. It
is difficult to imagine weddings,baptismsand funerals
without them;the sowingseasonis punctuatedwith their
chantsandmusic. Praisingequally noblesandimportant
people,theyno longer needto tell the truth; instead,they
say what pleases and prompts generous donations,
rewards and gifts.
It is therefore unusualtoday to find young people who
know the "tarik", now a rarefied lore. They prefer the
lure of quick money to volunteer work which no longer
attractsanyone.All griots believe that the day they start
working will unquestionablybe the beginning of fame
andfortune.They readily submitto the power of money.
But their functionremainsimportantwhen-

mediators, intervening in inter-family problems disputes. And it is still the griot who arranges traditional marriages. In the Mandingo world there are many villages ning centerswhere young people interestedin oral traditions go. The novices learn the art ' - especially in K6la (Kangabasociety), in Kita dofo (a suburbof Kita) andin Krina "

. - ~ citieswherethetraditionsarewell keptin Mali; a. Hamadaor Famada(Kouroussasociety) in Guinea.
.
-
~
citieswherethetraditionsarewell keptin Mali;
a.
Hamadaor Famada(Kouroussasociety) in Guinea.
1. Thisexpression is formed from "belen" , meaning "rod" and "tigui", meaning "master
1. Thisexpression is formed from "belen" , meaning "rod" and "tigui",
meaning "master of".
2. "Buruju":
the origins of institutions and family genealogies, also called "tarik",
-
from the Arab word for "chronicle".
- 8
plack Africa has an infinite number of musical :P instruments. It is difficult to itemize
plack Africa has an infinite number of musical
:P instruments. It is difficult to itemize them all,
given the size of the regions and the great variety
of populations and ethnic groups, as well as the
multiple and variable terminologies.
Here are the instruments most representative of
Mandingo music, ones that have a more or less
direct relation with the djembe and its music.
They are played during initiation ceremonies,
games,songsand dancesand popular festivities.
They are also used by the national
dance companies.
The Gambian kora, for example, which "speaks
Mandengo"(l) is not tuned the same way as the
Malian kora, which "speaks Mandenka"(2).Like-
wise, the Guinea bala does not have the same
"scale" asthe Burkina Fasobala, andthe Maninka
flute resemblesthe flute from Fouta only in tone,
not in language.
Modern materials are used more and more and
often produce instruments with a wide rhythmic
and melodic range. When played outside their
traditional framework they enable musicians to
integrate quite naturally into instru-
mental groups and modern combos
throughout the world.
As on integralpartof African social
life, evidence of the liveliness of
traditional music,they areplayedto
this day at eachstageof agricultural
work (tilling, sowing, harvesting),
hunting and fishing. They accom- -
panybirth, childhood,puberty,fune-
ralsandinheritances,expressingrefinement,
solemnityandpiety in the rituals. They let
'joi~ devivre" andgaietyburstoutandgive
expressionto ardorin work.
The instruments listed here are
classified
according to the four
large categoriesof traditional orga-
nology establishedby C. Sachsand
E. yon Hornbostel.
I; Membranophones:
There are sacredinstruments, whosereso- -
Theseare instruments with a membrane
stretchedoverahollow support.Thesound
is obtainedby striking the membranewith
the handsor a stick:
nancechambersandorificessometimeshave a shape
that lend themselves to symbolic or mythological
interpretations;and there arepopular instruments.
Thelatter,while keepingtheir fundamentalelements,
are more or less victims of the general technical
evolution of wood and metals.
djembe, dunun, bara, ntama, siko.
tI Idiophones:
In this category,the soundis producedby the vibration
of the material itself, using no strings or membranes:
Their constructioncanbe very careful,but alsoslip-
shod and even rudimentary. But they all have one
thing in common: they are never mass-produced.
Using all sortsof resonantmatter,madeessentially
from natural or found materials (wood, bamboo,
horns,animal skins,gourds,iron, etc.), their quality
residesaboveall in the richnessof the timbre; the
instrument must be able to produceunusualtones,
more or lessstrangeand often complex.
kirin,
filendunun,
gita, kariyan,
kele, kesekese, yabara,
wasamba, bala.
Chordophones:
Their soundis madeby causingthe string or strings,
stretchedbetweentwo fixed points on a support,to
vibrate:
Thereareno real instrumentmakers,exceptfor the
djembeandcertaininstrumentslike the kirin or the
nkoni. The musician designs them himself, com-
municatingto themthe languageof his ethnicgroup
andendowing them, using various artifices, with a
personality of their own.
Instruments are thus invented that produce nasal,
vibrating, strident or soft sounds which repro-
duce as closely as possible the soundsand music
of nature.
Each drum, then, is unique, with its own beauty,
its own assetsand flaws.
bolon, nkoni, kora.
. Aerophones:
This category includes all instruments whose sound
is produced by vibrating the air contained in a tube.
They are also called air or wind instruments.
The human voice must be added to this category.
In Africa, it is a very substantial source of music.
Hand clapping is the only accompaniment.
file.
1. A spoken language of Gambia.
2. A spoken language of Mali and Guinea.
- 10-
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HEHrSPHEREDRLJHS
THE BARA
THE BARA
The bara(l)is fromtheSegouregionof Mali. It is used , in the Bamanamilieu. This kettledrum, around 60
The bara(l)is fromtheSegouregionof Mali. It is used
,
in the Bamanamilieu.
This kettledrum, around 60 cm in diameter,
sometimes larger, is made of wood and
covered with a skin, generally calfskin,
which is sewn and held in place by a
systemof hide strip laces.
It eitherhangshorizontally by abelt from
the musician's waist or is placed on the
ground.It is struck with both palms.
Thebarais usedin all popularfestiveevents,
especially in the Bondialan region.
by the anotherBamana
skin-coveredmilieu,
drum,bara
bongolo.
Its ,<"
In
the
is
theaccompanied
shapeandthe way it is assembledmakethis drum
acloserelativeof thedjembe.However,its resonance
chamberis higher andit is played differently: onehand
strikes directly while the other hand plays with a stick.
strikes directly while the other hand plays with a stick. HOURGLASSDRUHS THE NTAMA , n Mali,

HOURGLASSDRUHS

THE NTAMA
THE NTAMA
, n Mali, both the Bwa and the Kaado are said to have invented this
, n Mali, both the Bwa and the Kaado
are said to
have invented this instrument.
The ntama is a double-skin drum with variable tension
made of a hollowed-out
hourglass-shaped wooden
barrel.
The endsare coveredby two goatskins stretchedover
a stiff circle andtied togetherby flexible leatherlaces.
With its narrow centerplaced under his arm-hence
the designation "armpit
drum"-
the drummer
varies the pressure on the lacing, thereby modi-
fying the pitch and creating sliding and altered
tones.
The skin is struck with a thin curved stick. For
the ntamani(2), this technique is supplemented
by playing with the fingers on the sameskin.
All social classesare familiar with this age-old
" instrument, usedby criers to announcemeetings
on the public gatheringareato hearurgentinforma-
tion. The ntama can also beat dance rhythms when
played with the djembe.
This drum is also called the" talking drum ". Indeed,
its sliding tonesrecall somespokenAfrican languages.
1. Also called CU or KUNANFAN.
2. The NTAMANI
is smaller.
- 12-
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RATTLES

RATTLES

THE KESEKESE
THE KESEKESE
RATTLES THE KESEKESE O riginating in the Faranah region of Upper Guinea, the kesekese is the
O riginating in the Faranah region of Upper Guinea, the kesekese is the favorite instrument
O riginating in the Faranah region of Upper Guinea,
the kesekese is the favorite instrument of the
Mamara ethnic group in the Sikasso area of Mali.
These internal percussion rattles are closed containers
containing small pebbles or seedsand come in a variety
of shapes.
Generally cone-shaped, made of woven plant fibers, they
are always played in pairs, using alternating movements.
The player holds one in each hand by a small handle.
The kesekese accompany chanting and certain very
rapid dances.
They are often accompanied by another instrument, the
koro, a small piece of hollowed wood held in the palm
of one hand and struck by a small stick held in the other.
THE YABARA
THE YABARA
and struck by a small stick held in the other. THE YABARA The yabara is from
The yabara is from the Guinea forest region inhabited r by the Kisi, Toma and
The yabara is from the Guinea forest region inhabited
r by the Kisi, Toma and Gereze ethnic groups. It is an
external percussion rattle made from a whole, jug-
shaped gourd, whose stem serves as a handle. The
gourd is emptied and wrapped in a fairly loose string bag
studded with real snake vertebrae, cowries(l) or rounds
of wood (and sometimes "gombele" beans).
The gourd is held by its "handle" and swung back and
forth while the other hand pulls the end of the string
bag downwards. This produces a clear, dry sound. The
musician creates a rhythmic accompaniment for singing
and other percussion instruments.
In Mali, the yabara used to be played to accompany the
bolon during great ritual ceremonies honoring titular genii
or the manes, village ancestors. In the Sikasso region, the
Bamana use the yabara (also called tchitchakara) by
itself for their festivities.
1. Cowriesare small shells that were used as money throughout the Mandingo world from earliest
1. Cowriesare small shells that were used as money throughout the Mandingo world from earliest times
Today they are only used as ornaments and in magic.
- 14-
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SCRAPEDrNSTRlJHENTS THE KARIY AN The kariyanis ahollowirontubeopenalongits entire r length.About 4 cm in diameter,and20

SCRAPEDrNSTRlJHENTS

THE KARIY ANSCRAPEDrNSTRlJHENTS The kariyanis ahollowirontubeopenalongits entire r length.About 4 cm in diameter,and20 to 30 cm

The kariyanis ahollowirontubeopenalongits entire r length.About 4 cm in diameter,and20 to 30 cm long, it
The kariyanis ahollowirontubeopenalongits entire
r
length.About 4 cm in diameter,and20 to 30 cm long,
it is heldin thepalmof thehand,a finger slipped
througha ring attachedto thetube.
Grooveson eachsideof a lengthwiseslit canal
arescrapedwith a small metalrod. A rocking
wrist movementmarkstherhythm.
This instrumentis playedprimarily by initiation
societymusiciansandminstrels affiliated with
huntingbrotherhoods.
It is also played by women griots during and after
singing,andaccompaniestherhythmssetby thehand
clappingof groupsof otherwomen.

SrSTRLlHSthehand clappingof groupsof otherwomen. THEWASAMBA W asamba<l), used in initiation rites, are

thehand clappingof groupsof otherwomen. SrSTRLlHS THEWASAMBA W asamba<l), used in initiation rites, are

THEWASAMBA

W asamba<l), used in initiation rites, are made with angled sticks, each segment being 20
W asamba<l), used in initiation
rites, are made with
angled
sticks, each segment being 20 to 30 cm long (hence the
name "arching
sistrums"),
on which several disks of dimini-
shing diameter, cut out of gourd and pierced in the middle, are
threaded. The number of discs, between 15 and 20,
corresponds to the age of each initiate.
The playing technique varies according to the
instrument's ethnic origin.
When they areplayed in pairs, they
, are shaken up and down and
rubbed against each other.
The sliding disks hit one
another
and make
a
crisp, clacking sound.
Wasamba are used mainly
during circumcisionceremonies,to ward
off evil spirits and accompany singing
during the retreat period following the ope-
ration. Newly circumcised boys are not to be
approachedby just anyone;the wasambaannounce
their presenceto passers-byand strangers.
This instrumentis saidto datefrom theMiddle Ages.
'-"
. Also called WASAKUMBA (Susu ethnic group) and LALA (Fulbe ethnic group) (photo on the
. Also called WASAKUMBA (Susu ethnic group) and LALA (Fulbe ethnic group) (photo on the right).
16-

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~

~ CURVEDHARPS ~ THE BOLON The bolon is a curved harp comprised of a large r
~ CURVEDHARPS ~ THE BOLON The bolon is a curved harp comprised of a large r

CURVEDHARPS

~
~
THE BOLON The bolon is a curved harp comprised of a large r ~ calabash,a
THE BOLON
The bolon is a curved harp comprised of a large
r
~
calabash,a curved wooden pole and three strings.
At the end of the pole is a resonator(l).
The musician most often plays seated,with the instru-
ment placedfacing him betweenhis legs.He holds it by
the pole, his wrists resting on the calabash,and pinches
the strings with his thumbs.
The bolon is the double bassin Mandingo music. It is
mainly played for hunting ceremonies.
Originally called soron, this instrument was man-sized
and was played standing.It exalted courage,exhorting
warriors to enduranceandvalor. When a city wastaken,
the soronplayer alwaysprecededthemilitary leader~
the conqueredvillage.
The Bamanahaveanothercurvedharp with two :
-
three strings,called dozonkoni(2).
The dozonkoni is mainly found in Mali's Wasoulou
Belidougou regions,where young peopleplay i
evening gatherings.
regions,where young peopleplay i evening gatherings. LUTES THE NKONI The nkoni is a Sahelianlute found among

LUTES

THE NKONI
THE NKONI
The nkoni is a Sahelianlute found among the Fulbe, , SoninkeandMoors, a sortof smallguitar with
The nkoni is a Sahelianlute found among the Fulbe,
, SoninkeandMoors, a sortof smallguitar with
aboat-
shapedbox andthreestrings.It is alsonow found among
the Bamana,who have addeda fourth string.
A sheepskin is stretched and nailed over a wooden
resonancechamber.
Oncemadeof horsehair,the stringsarenow nylon. They
are stretchedon the round wooden, notched neck and
held by sliding leatherrings (like on the kora).
The nkoni is above all the griot's instrument, a perfect
supportfor the kora.
The Mandingo Empire's history can be discovered
through the nkoni' s music. It accompaniesthe historian
or the chronicler and is used to illustrate narratives of
brave deeds.
It is also found in traditional Maninka orchestras.
1. A thin metal sheet, decorated with rings, acts as a resonator.
2. Dozo = hunter; nkoni = string instrument.
- 18-
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~ - 1:21 The djembe belongs to the membranophonefamily. r Its goblet shape resembles the mortar
The djembe belongs to the membranophonefamily. r Its goblet shape resembles the mortar used for
The
djembe belongs to the membranophonefamily.
r Its goblet shape resembles the mortar used for
pounding millet. Made of a single hollowed out and
sculpted piece of tree trunk, it comprises a flattened
cone "foot" whosecavity opensinto a larger resonance
chamberor "body". The connecting part in the middle
of the djembe is the "collar".
The size generally varies from 55 to 60 cm high and 30
to 38 cm in diameter(somedjembefrom theIvory Coast
and Burkina Fasoare wider). The woods usedare cho-
senfor their density,toneandtoughness.The worojiri(l),
lenke, dogora, gueni and calcedratare the woods most frequently used. The drumheadof the djembe is
lenke, dogora, gueni and calcedratare the woods most
frequently used.
The drumheadof the djembe is madefrom goatskin.
The tension systemis of braided nylon cords.The skin
is heldwith threemetalhoops(cf: Assemblingadjembe).
Originally, the djembe skin was sewn and assembled
with
thin strips of braidedleatheror cow gut. If the ten-
sion slackenedduring playing, the musicianrestretched
the skin by heating it over a small wood or cardboard
fire (this technique is still used by some drummers
in Africa).
1. Jiri = tree; woro = kolo. The edible kolo nut is red or white
1. Jiri = tree; woro = kolo. The edible kolo nut is red or white in color. Traditionolly, it also
plays an important role on certain occasions, and is given as a sign of agreement, respect
or to obtain the cromise of a betrothal.
-22-
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FUNCTION
FUNCTION
, n West Africa, instrumental music is generally the domain of men, vocal music that
, n West Africa, instrumental music is generally the
domain of men, vocal music that of women. The
djembe is therefore essentially played by men.With its
bright rhythms, it is above all the instrument of dance.
Traditional dances handed down from generation to
generation make up the greatest part of each ethnic
group's surviving artistic and cultural heritage. The
dancesreflect aspectsof a past epoch and life, aswell
asmores and activities. The dancescanbe classified in
threevery distinct categories:
composed by superimposing different intertwining rhythmic units. The interweaving produces a rich and varied polyrhythm.
composed by superimposing different intertwining
rhythmic units. The interweaving produces a rich and
varied polyrhythm. In the Maninka tradition, songs
introduce the drum music. The songsvary according
to the ethnic group and the event.They can be divided
into three categories:
- narrative or epic songs, accompanied above all by strings.
- narrative or epic songs, accompanied above all
by strings.

- songsof praise,with instrumentalaccompaniment (stringsor percussion); -dancingsongs,with drumssettingtherhythm;

Ritual dances The main characteristicof thesedancesis their religious or magicelement.They determinethesynthesisof know-
Ritual dances
The main characteristicof thesedancesis their religious
or magicelement.They determinethesynthesisof know-
ledgeto be assimilatedby thoseseekingto be initiated,
therebyacquiringthe highestsocial andspiritual values.
The alsoinclude maskandpuppetdances.Thesedances
are reservedfor the initiated.
Castedances
During popularfestivities,thesedanceshelp identify
thedancer'scaste:ie, griots,.smithsor cobblers.
Secular dances
Thesedancesillustrate all the eventsof community life.
They can be performed by all membersof the society,
eachsexhaving its own dancesteps.They convey dif-
ferent moods,like joy and sadness,andexpresspopular
communaldelight and the ardor of group work.
The djembe is used at the various social events that
make up traditional festivities: baptisms, circumci-
sions,betrothals,weddings and somefunerals, as well
asceremoniessuchasassembliesand mask festivals.
It is alsousedby all West African dancecompaniesand
national troupes.
The djembe is played in a group of severalpercussio-
nists comprised of a soloist, djembe accompaniment
players and dunun players. The rhythm is generally
Family membersareresponsiblefor the organisationof
celebrationsand women gnots are generally in charge
of the festivities. They lead the different songs,whose
words relate directly to the event: ie, honoring the
grooms, their families, or the parentsof a child being
baptized.The otherwomenparticipateeitherby forming
a synchronizeddancecircle, or by clapping their hands,
creating a rhythmic link between the singing and the
instruments.
When the singing startsthe djembefola soloist gives his
group of accompanists the rhythmic support and the
speedfor the intoned chant (the samerhythm can be
found in different chants).The soloist beatsthe various
rhythmic formulas correspondingto the dancers' diffe-
rent movements. His coherent, coded instructions
enable them to express themselves, to move with
the group and the assembly, they produce a perfect
simultaneity between the music and the dance. This
generally concludes with a fast finale. The drummers
follow the dance,not vice versa.
The soloist can give starting signals to change the
dancers' steps, and stopping signals to end or tempo-
rarily stop the dance.This techniquewas elaboratedby
dancecompanydrummers,andis alsousedfor teaching
in danceclasses.
CONSTRUCTION
The
djembe is not mass produced.
Each djembe is
r handmade and therefore unique. The craftsman is
frequently a sculptor, specializing in woodwork(l) and
in fabricating everyday objects suchasmortars, chairs
etc. Very occasionally, the musician is also the sculp-
tor. His assortedtools, including gouges, crowbars,
machetesandadzes,allow him to achieveaconstruction
andfinish thatareof major importancein makinga good
instrument.
The djembe'spitch (cf: Assemblinga djembe-The skin)
dependson the balanceand harmony of its forms. The
nature and thicknessof the wood determineits weight.
Certain proportions, which the craftsman knows, must
be respectedbetweenthe "body" and the "foot".
1. Called
"smiths".
- 24-
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PLAYING POSITIONS
PLAYING POSITIONS
Usually the djembe is played standing.
Usually the djembe is played standing.
This position, more suitablewhen playing for dancers,gives greaterfreedomof movementandallows oneto move aboutwhile
This position, more suitablewhen playing for dancers,gives greaterfreedomof movementandallows oneto move
aboutwhile playing.
It also amplifies the volume of the djembe and facilitates better collaboration and a more harmonious dynamic
between the drummers and dancers.
When moving around,it is better to shift the djembe's foot to the side of your leg.
Thedjembemaybecarriedin two differentways:
The most common method is using a long shoulder strap (4 meterslong
maximum). To preventthe drum from sliding, the strapis crossedin back.
The djemberestsbetweenthe drummer's legs.
It is important to choosea sturdy strapwide enoughnot to dig into the
shoulders.A judo belt works well.
For a goodposition, the strapshouldbe precisely adjusted.If it is
too short, the djembe will be too high. If it is too long, you will
stoop.The djembe's collar should be mid-thigh level.
greatermethod,
ease most of movementcurrently
the upperin
bodyis
but
can causethe
lower
problems:the
beatingThis
the
The providessecond
inused
Mali,
strapping
djembe
backaround
waist.
has direct
repercussions
on the spine.
-26-
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ORAL SOURCES W estern musicians have inherited a long written musical tradition, an important memory

ORAL SOURCES

W estern musicians have inherited a long written musical tradition, an important memory aid. It
W
estern
musicians
have
inherited
a long
written
musical tradition,
an important
memory
aid.
It
enables them to separatethe music from
In Africa the reverseis true: oral tradition
its context.
remains the
most important and most frequently used source.
African drummers traditionally use the "drumming
language", a literal translation of the spokenlanguage.
The drum's
music is therefore
always based on
spoken phrases, on meaningful series of words.
The drummer plays them, varies and ornaments
them, or combines them ashe choosesand according
to precise dance phrases.
Songs in onomatopoetic form are reworked on the
drum. Precise ways of beating the drum are used,
corresponding to distinct sounds.
The phonetic method undeniably facilitates singing
in rhythm and simplifies the task of "keeping the tune in one's head". For this
in rhythm and simplifies the task of "keeping the
tune in one's head".
For this reason,eachsoundcorrespondsto a syllable.
It is advisableto keepthis in mind asa complement
to Western notation when singing all of the parts
played. It is also very important to develop your ear
- by listening to recordings (cf: Selected Re- cordings). - by listening to yourself and
- by listening to recordings (cf: Selected Re-
cordings).
- by listening to yourself and the musiciansyou play
with, in order to respect what happensin a group, ie,
the harmony.
The ear, hands, feet, the voice - the whole body is
called upon and stimulated by this comprehensive
instrument.
,}J
,}J
PUL~~J'ON
PUL~~J'ON
.I'"'Jontrary to Western musicians, the traditional better cohesion among the players. '-.;
.I'"'Jontrary to Western musicians, the traditional
better cohesion among the players.
'-.;
Africanmusicianfeelsnoneedfor anexternalized
A metronomeor a drum machine(less:
mightbehelpfulto ensureevennessin the1
-
,
temporalguide.
The beat designates evenly spaced reference
points in time. Learning or "having" the beat
is indispensable for learning and mastering the
following exercisesand rhythms, in which several
instruments play.
Marking time with the foot requires the upper
and lower limbs to be independent of each other.
This is difficult to master at first, but it is indis-
exercisesthat follow.
Tempohasa major role in djembemusic. Once
be possibleare
tempos.it
exercises
tomastered play themand
atassimilated, different
~
Do not try to acceleratetoo quickly at first, as
will lose precision and maybe the sound
gether. Going beyond a certain speed
additional difficulties, such as: keeping
rhythm while striking with precision,
pensable. This actionallows you to keepa steadyrhythm. The
musician relies on it during a piece and it creates
fatigue,
bad posture,
or lack of stamina,
and energy.
-32-
THE DJEMBE'S DIFFERENT SOUNDS
THE DJEMBE'S DIFFERENT SOUNDS
pefore you start to learn the rhythms, here are l> somesimple exercisesto loosen up the
pefore you start to learn the rhythms, here are
l> somesimple exercisesto loosen up the handsand
practice the different
strikes described above.
To really feel the length of the notes and the diffe-
rent soundsproduced on the drum, begin by
practising
slowly with the voice. Use the onomatopoeiae given
or make up your own.
Holding both hands in the correct position helps you
find the skin's optimal tones with flexibility and
ease. Be careful to balance the two hands per-
fectly (neither should strike harder than the other).
Next try playing the exercises, first with the right
hand, then with the left.
A good percussionist is not content to play the same rhythmic formulas repeatedly but knows
A good percussionist is not content to play the
same rhythmic formulas repeatedly but knows
how to vary them.He alsotries to getthe richestand
mostvaried soundsfrom his instrument.By playing
with the different pitches, you can also give the
rhythm a melody.
After
you have executed and assimilated
the
following exercises perfectly, invent your own.
Change the sound, use muffled and "touched"
strikes
And discover the pleasure of sharing with other
musiciansclear,airy playing andrhythmscomposed
of distinct andprecise notes.
playing andrhythmscomposed of distinct andprecise notes. '~-r ri'--i'--:.j I I I . r rl~l~ - 34-
'~-r ri'--i'--:.j I I I .
'~-r
ri'--i'--:.j
I
I
I
.
r rl~l~
r
rl~l~
playing andrhythmscomposed of distinct andprecise notes. '~-r ri'--i'--:.j I I I . r rl~l~ - 34-
playing andrhythmscomposed of distinct andprecise notes. '~-r ri'--i'--:.j I I I . r rl~l~ - 34-
playing andrhythmscomposed of distinct andprecise notes. '~-r ri'--i'--:.j I I I . r rl~l~ - 34-
playing andrhythmscomposed of distinct andprecise notes. '~-r ri'--i'--:.j I I I . r rl~l~ - 34-
playing andrhythmscomposed of distinct andprecise notes. '~-r ri'--i'--:.j I I I . r rl~l~ - 34-
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The following rhythms have r been chosen from among thosemostfrequently used.The versions presented are neither
The following rhythms have
r been chosen from among
thosemostfrequently used.The
versions presented are neither
rigid nor immutable. They are
interpreted differently according
to thecountryor regionof origin, the
soloist and the event: wedding feast, recording,
danceperformance, danceclass, etc.
In Guinea, the kesereni and sangba can be sup-
plemented with the dununba, and in Mali there
can be a seconddunun. It is not necessaryto limit
the djembe accompaniments to two per rhythm.
The ones below are the most representative, the
most common.
A soloist with Ii particular way of playing might
prefer a single accompaniment, or he might add
three or four instruments.
A soloist will have as many different accompa-
niments as there are accompanists.
To interpret and understandthe repertory well, it
is indispensable to master each of the rhythms
and all of the djembe and different dunun motifs
alone, before playing with a group.
The Diembe
The Diembe
- Keeping a steady tempo, repeat the starting signal slowly several times. - Do the
- Keeping a steady tempo, repeat the starting
signal slowly several times.
- Do the same thing
for
the first
djembe
accompaniment. - Then play the seconddjembe accompaniment.
- After the starting signal, go back to the first
accompaniment, then do a stopping signal.
- Repeatthis with the secondaccompaniment.
- After
the starting
signal,
play
the first
djembe accompaniment, then, without stopping
or repeating the starting signal, play the second
For "Jansa", for example:
For "Jansa", for example:
djembe accompaniment. Repeat, alternating these accompaniments several times, in 8-measure cycles, for example,
djembe
accompaniment.
Repeat,
alternating
these accompaniments several times, in 8-measure
cycles, for example, adding signal to stop.
The Dunun
The Dunun
- Work gradually in the same way as for the djembe,but this time oneinstrumentplays after
- Work gradually
in the same way as for the
djembe,but this time oneinstrumentplays after the
other, startingwith the first dunun,thenthe second
alone, then with the bell, and finally the dununba
alone and then with its bell.
To start each combination
correctly,
sing the
djembe starting signal.
Only when these stages are accomplished and
when eachpercussionist is perfectly at easewith
all of the rhythmic formulas can the group work
start.Eachmotif may appeareasyto drum by itself,
but combining the different rhythms is difficult,
becauseof the interweaving.
- At first, begin with one other musician and
practice the two djembe accompaniments. The
two can switch parts during playing, working
together without a starting or stopping signal.
- Next you can practice the different dunun ac-
companiments with one or two other musicians,
one after the other, being careful
to respect
the cycle: 8-measures,for example.
~
Oncethesedifferent stagesare accomplished,the
group can play the whole rhythm together.
In order to keep perfect stability and :.
harmony, it is essentialto usethe different
as reference points: they are the "heart of
rhythm". Thestartingsignalsetsthetempoandrhythm,--
follow. It is given by the first djembeplayer.
To stopthe rhythm, the samesignal is .
into a "signal to stop". To do this, oneextrabeat
added,which canbeplayedasa slapand
Signal to stop Starting Signal )1- 11- 13EJ=: In somecases- "Dununba", for example - the
Signal to stop
Starting Signal
)1-
11-
13EJ=:
In somecases- "Dununba", for example - the stop signal is different from the start signal:
Signal to stop
Starting Signal
42-

~

JANSA . F rom the Kasonke ethnic group, originating in the Kayes and Kita region
JANSA .
JANSA
.
F rom the Kasonke ethnic group, originating in the Kayes and Kita region of Mali.
F
rom
the
Kasonke
ethnic
group,
originating
in
the
Kayes
and
Kita
region
of
Mali.
The jansa is undoubtedly the most popular enter-
tainment dance in Khasso. It takes place in the
evening or at night, in the public square. It is for all
people and all occasions: the full moon, the end of
Starting
signal and
2nd
djembe
1st dunun
winter and good harvests. It starts slowly, picking up speed when a talented dancer goes
winter and good harvests. It starts slowly, picking
up speed when a talented dancer goes into the
middle of the circle. Great dancers sometimes
manipulate a rifle or pestle while dancing.
The following version is the most popular in the
cities.
CD Track 16
CD Track
16
2nd dunun
2nd dunun
is the most popular in the cities. CD Track 16 2nd dunun KL/RL/Ef F rom the
is the most popular in the cities. CD Track 16 2nd dunun KL/RL/Ef F rom the

KL/RL/Ef

F rom the Jula ethnic group, originating in Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso (Bobo Dioulasso).
F rom the Jula ethnic group, originating in Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso
(Bobo Dioulasso).
This rhythm is played during festivities
27th night.
towards the end of Ramadan, the
It
is the last
big
fling
for the young girls
who will
be married
the
following year.
CD Track 17
CD Track
17
- 44-
- 44-
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D(DAD( F ro~ the Bamanaethnic group, originating in the Bougouni circle, of Mali's Sikasso regIon.
D(DAD( F ro~ the Bamanaethnic group, originating in the Bougouni circle, of Mali's Sikasso regIon.

D(DAD(

F ro~ the Bamanaethnic group, originating in the Bougouni circle, of Mali's Sikasso regIon. The
F ro~ the Bamanaethnic group, originating in the Bougouni circle, of Mali's Sikasso
regIon.
The didadi is organizedduring the end-of-the-yearholidays or to celebratethe arrival of an
important person.It is an easyrhythm to danceto, andeveryonecaninterpret it asthey like.
In the Sikassoregion, the dununcalled didadidunun is the instrumentplayed for the didadi.
The hand plays the drum on the skin opposite the one hit by the wooden drumstick,
complementing the stick's
playing.
CD Track 24 . . HAND HAND KASA Co rom the Maninka ethnic group, originating
CD Track
24
.
.
HAND
HAND
KASA
Co rom the Maninka ethnic group, originating in the Kouroussaregion of Upper Guinea.
r The kasais played at all eventslinked to the harvest.This rhythm is played to encourage
farmers during sowing and harvesting. There areseveralkasa.Konkoba, soro anddubon
are other rhythms played along with the kasa.
CD Track
25
48-
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~ SAgAR - " F rom the Wolof ethnic group, in the Dakar region of
~ SAgAR
-
"
F
rom the Wolof
ethnic
group,
in
the Dakar region of Senegal.
In this country, the most common instrument is
the sabar,a skin drum played with one hand and a thin
wooden stick. It is set on the ground or strapped to
the side of the body. The rhythm and dancestepswere
named for this drum. There are several styles of
sabar dancing. The best known are the "air condi-
tioner", consisting of unveiling the pentelu(l) to the
musicians and the audience, and the "fan", where
hip rolls provoke a circular movement of the buttocks.
This rhythm is very popular in Senegaland in the rest
of West Africa, where several variations have been
transposed for the djembe.
CD Track 28
CD Track
28
have been transposed for the djembe. CD Track 28 50C;OLON F rom the Bozo ethnic group,
have been transposed for the djembe. CD Track 28 50C;OLON F rom the Bozo ethnic group,
50C;OLON
50C;OLON
F rom the Bozo ethnic group, of Mali. end of the fishingthis season.is in the
F
rom the Bozo ethnic
group,
of Mali.
end of the fishingthis
season.is
in the Mopti
Currently,played
region
sogolonbongolo
is playedand
with
djembe
i~ the"
at theTraditionally,
rhythm
with
thethree
a
bara.
It thecelebrates
Bamako
district,
during
popular
celebrations
and festivities.
CD Track 29
CD Track
29
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KUKU -"""", F rom the Koniagi ethnic group of the Beyla and Kerouaneregions in the
KUKU
-"""",
F rom the Koniagi ethnic group of
the Beyla and Kerouaneregions
in the Guinea forest area.
,
This rhythm is played for the end of the harvest
festivities
and during celebration festivities.
It is playedonly on thedjembe,asthedunundoesnot
existin this region.Two smalldrumsareaddedto the
sidesof the soloist's djembe.The whole is called a
three-headeddrum. Another drummer keepsup an
accompanimenton a small djembe.
Thekuku hasbeenmodified andadaptedwith dunun
anddjembesolosfor the National Ballet Company.
CD Track 32
CD Track
32
5ANJA F rom the Maninka ethnic group, in the Kayes region of Mali. This piece
5ANJA
F
rom
the
Maninka
ethnic
group,
in
the
Kayes
region
of Mali.
This piece traditionally openedthe ceremoniesfor
the deathof a king or a very important man.
Recountingthe Mandingo epic, this predominantly
vocal rhythm was interwoven with "Fasa"(l).
Traditionally, the real sanja is not played on the
djembe, which is not a griot instrument like the
bala, the ntama and the jalidunun(2). Only these
instruments accompanythe sanja,played to men and women griots. On these occasions, griots sing each other's
instruments accompanythe sanja,played to
men and women griots.
On these occasions,
griots sing each other's praises and execute
very graceful dancewith circular movements,
armsspreadout. Today, someassociations
zing "Ambianci Foli"(3) askthe djembefola
the sanja.He canonly do soin
circumstances.This rhythm is
In Guinea,it is called lamban.
CD Track 33
CD Track
33
1. Songsof praise. 2. Griot dunun. 3. Neighborhood festivities. 4. Danceof the griots.
1. Songsof praise.
2. Griot dunun.
3. Neighborhood
festivities.
4. Danceof the
griots.
-52-
-52-
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I<AWA F rom th,e Maninka ethnic group, originating. in the Far~nah region o.f Upper Gu~n.ea.
I<AWA
F rom th,e Maninka
ethnic group, originating.
in the Far~nah region o.f Upper Gu~n.ea.
Kawa IS above aillhe rhythm of the medecme man. It IS played durIng CIrCUmCISIon
periods to contain evil spirits
and protect the young initiates
from them.
For this rhythm, the djembe is accompanied by the bala, the ntama and the file.
CD Track
36
HENJANf
F
rom
the
Maninka
ethnic
group,
played
throughout
the
Maninka
country.
This rhythm is mainly playedby youngpubescentgirls to celebrate
good harvests.
In Guinea, this rhythm is also called denadon.
CD Track
37
NOUMOUDY
KElT A
54-
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UPPERGUINEA(continued) SIGUIRI Denadon Mamaya Ja Menjani Soboninku Jagbe Fankani Sofa Koso Soli Koma Soliwule
UPPERGUINEA(continued)
SIGUIRI
Denadon
Mamaya
Ja
Menjani
Soboninku
Jagbe
Fankani
Sofa
Koso
Soli
Koma
Soliwule
Konde
We'ima
lamban
GUINEA FORESTREGION
MIDDLEGUINEA
NZEREKORE
LABE
Kuku 5 headed drums
Kuku
5 headed
drums
LOWERGUINEA
LOWERGUINEA
CONAKRY, KINDIA, BaKE
CONAKRY, KINDIA, BaKE

Fulani RhythmsLABE Kuku 5 headed drums LOWERGUINEA CONAKRY, KINDIA, BaKE FARANAH Kala Kankamba Kawa Konjan Konkoba Sac

drums LOWERGUINEA CONAKRY, KINDIA, BaKE Fulani Rhythms FARANAH Kala Kankamba Kawa Konjan Konkoba Sac Soko

FARANAH

Kala Kankamba Kawa Konjan Konkoba Sac Soko Soli Toro
Kala
Kankamba
Kawa
Konjan
Konkoba
Sac
Soko
Soli
Toro
In this region, we find mostly Susu rhythms such as: Kakilembe Yencadi Makuru Sorsone Guinefare
In this region,
we find
mostly
Susu rhythms
such as:
Kakilembe
Yencadi
Makuru
Sorsone
Guinefare
Yokui
Tiriba
Mane
Yole
Sintie
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U ere is one of many "drum signals" ~ - n composed by the "Ballets
U ere is one of many "drum signals"
~ - n composed by the "Ballets Koteba
de Cote-d'Ivoire"(l), a company created
and directed by Souleymane Koly. Many great
drummers, including Fofana Georges Kemoko,
Mamady "Kargus" Kelta andMamady "N'Toman"
Kelta, have belonged to the troupe.
This starting signal is presentedmainly becauseit
is playedin unisonby a troupeof djembeanddunun
becauseit is playedin unisonby a troupeof djembeanddunun l1NrSON'DRl1HSrGNAL drums.To interpretit well, it is

l1NrSON'DRl1HSrGNAL

drums.To interpretit well, it is necessaryto work on the group's orchestration and homogeneity. Memory also
drums.To interpretit well, it is necessaryto work on
the group's orchestration and homogeneity.
Memory also is important, as are the song and
the different sounds.
- The first drummer plays the first starting signal measure,and the troupe immediately joins in.
- The first drummer plays the first starting signal
measure,and the troupe immediately joins in.
- The djembegroup plays the first staff; the dunun
group plays the secondstaff.
CD Track 40
CD Track
40
2 Djembe Dunun 1. Thisversion is by Fofana Georges Kemoko and Mamady "N'Toman" Ke"ita -60-
2
Djembe
Dunun
1. Thisversion is by Fofana Georges Kemoko and Mamady "N'Toman"
Ke"ita
-60-
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, n Africa, it is customary for a percussionist to change the skin of his
, n Africa, it is customary for a percussionist to change the skin of his
, n Africa, it is customary for a percussionist to change the skin of his
, n Africa, it is customary for a percussionist to
change the skin of his drum himself, just as a
guitaristchangesthe stringsof his or her guitar. The
operation is in fact long and difficult.
The procedure advised here, which I learned
through repeated experience, will facilitate your
work, andyou will learn other little tricks asyou go
along. It will take three or four tries to get a good
result. You don't get a goodsoundthe first time you play your drum. Likewise, the first
result. You don't get a goodsoundthe first time you
play your drum. Likewise, the first djembe you
redo won't be your best.
Gethelpthefirst time from someonewho alreadyhas
someexperienceto avoid getting discouraged.The
task will seemeasier.
And it is so satisfying to play an instrument
assembled with your own hands!
The instrument
The instrument
O nce the skin is off, verify that there are no cracksin the wood. If
O nce the skin is off, verify that there are no
cracksin the wood. If there are,round them down
completely, and fill them in using a dense mixture
of wood glue and fine sawdust (more efficient than
ready made wood putty.) Check that the wood is
not pock-marked with little holes. If you see a fine
wooddust in the drum, an anti-termite treatment is
imperative. If necessary, even out the upper edge of
the djembe. To do this use a wood rasp; then sand
it down to get a perfect finish. It is important to
eliminate all irregularities on the perimeter:
they can cause cuts in the skin when you shave
it. Also, a roundededgewill hurt your handsless.
To protect, preserveandnourish the wood, grease
the entire drum inside andout with sheabutter (or
linseed oil, which is easierto find.)
The djembe has three iron hoops (generally
r made of cement rods), 6 or 8 mm in
diameter
(depending on the djembe's diameter). They are
wrappedaroundthe drum barrel andthen soldered.
Two aretension hoops,a larger and a smaller one.
It is on thesetwo tensionhoopsthattheknotsaretied
to hold the lacing which tightens the skin.
The third
hoop is the support hoop. It goesinside
the skin, which will be pulled up over it during
the assembly.This supporthoopis the largestof the
three, being slightly larger than the tension hoop
which it supports.
The two larger hoops are placed on the upper
perimeter of the drum body.
The small hoop goeson the collar.
-66-
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1/ To takeoff theold skin,undothelacing.Startwith the horizontal lacing and then undo the vertical lacing. If
1/ To takeoff theold skin,undothelacing.Startwith the horizontal lacing and then undo the vertical lacing. If
1/ To takeoff theold skin,undothelacing.Startwith
the horizontal lacing and then undo the vertical
lacing. If the skin doesnot comefree easily, tap the
upper hoops with a hammer. To remove the inner
hoop, you can let the skin soak in water for an
hour. This avoidstearing.It will thenbe possibleto
usethe skin to make a dunun.
2/ Determine the best placement for the upper hoops (neither djembe nor hoops are perfectly
2/ Determine the best placement for the upper
hoops (neither djembe nor hoops are perfectly
round!). Mark the drum body with the felt-tip pen at
the place where the hoops are soldered so that you
can find this placementeasily oncethe skin is in place.
3/ Tie anidentical numberof "lark's headknots" (as shownbelow) on the two tension hoops.Spacethe knots
3/ Tie anidentical numberof "lark's headknots" (as
shownbelow) on the two tension hoops.Spacethe
knots evenly, abouttwo fingers aparton the larger
hoop (closer together on the smaller hoop.) For
example, a hoop 35 cm in diameter should have
no more than 30 knots.
./
~ l
Finish this stepby tying a squareknot to join the ends
of the cord (on each of the two tension hoops).
- 68-
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III. ASSEMBLY -_&&&r.r.r.r.r."""~&& 9/ Preparethe 16 meter long vertical tension cord by
III. ASSEMBLY -_&&&r.r.r.r.r."""~&&
III. ASSEMBLY
-_&&&r.r.r.r.r."""~&&
9/ Preparethe 16 meter long vertical tension cord by burning its ends so they won't
9/ Preparethe 16 meter long vertical tension cord by burning its ends so
they won't unravel.
Begin lacing by locating the middle of the cord, therebyensuringthat it will
havethe samelength at both ends.Lace to either sideby weaving the ends
of the cord aroundeachof the knots successively.
Be careful not to missany knots or you will haveto start over!
Be careful not to missany knots or you will haveto start over!
101Onceyou havelacedandknotted all aroundthe djembe,graspthe ends of the skin. Holding the lower part of the
101Onceyou havelacedandknotted all aroundthe djembe,graspthe ends
of the skin. Holding the lower part of the instrumentwith your feet, pull the
skin upward strongly to stretchit.
This part is essential.It keepsthe skin from being too low on the drum body
when you finish assemblingand tautensthe skin.
11/ Now check one last time that the skin hasno holes in it. Look through
11/ Now check one last time that the skin hasno holes in it. Look through
it towards a bright light from the foot side. If you seea flaw, you may be
ableto shift the skin, placing the flaw on the edge.Otherwise,you will need
to useanotherskin.
flaw on the edge.Otherwise,you will need to useanotherskin. IV. TENSION 12/ Removethe threemetersof string usedto hold
IV. TENSION
IV. TENSION
12/ Removethe threemetersof string usedto hold the hoopsin place (cf.8).
12/ Removethe threemetersof string usedto hold the hoopsin place
(cf.8).
13/ Do a preliminary tightening of the cord. Placeit correctly on the knots, bringing the
13/ Do a preliminary tightening of the cord. Placeit correctly on the knots,
bringing the skin down 1 cm all around the djembe. At the sametime, be
surethat the two hoops stay parallel to eachother. Eliminate any wrinkles
that might form in the skin between the two top hoops. Pull gradually,
without forcing at first, or the skin will drop too quickly and too low on
one side.
14/ Once the cord's slack has been taken up, attach the two ends with a
knot as shown below.
~
-70-
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VI. DRYING AND FINISHING
VI. DRYING
AND
FINISHING
19/ Lay the djembeon its sideto keepthe wood from splitting during drying. Let the skin
19/ Lay the djembeon its sideto keepthe wood from splitting during drying. Let the skin dry for at leastthreedays
in the sunor in a dry, well-aired place.
201Verify that the skin is perfectly dry. To get rid of any slack in the
201Verify that the skin is perfectly dry. To get rid of any slack in the vertical tension cord causedby drying, pull
it firmly one last time and redo the overhandloop.
21/ Now do the crosswiseweaving which doesthe final stretching. Pulling this cord is very hard
21/ Now do the crosswiseweaving which doesthe final stretching. Pulling this cord is very hard on the hands(and
also on the back), so wrap it arounda thick wooden stick which gives you leverageto make the pulling easier.
It is often necessary to weave two turns to get the most out of the skin. Shown below are a few ways of weaving
which produce various tensions and designs.
1
2
3
4
- 72-
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- A dunun canbe assembledwith metal hoops,like the djembe,but it can alsobe sewn.The djembe wasoriginally
- A
dunun canbe assembledwith metal hoops,like the djembe,but it can alsobe sewn.The djembe
wasoriginally madethis waJ]aswell. The readercanpracticeeither the hoop or cord methodon
either instrument. The secondmethod,trickier andlesscommon, is more traditional.
In the sewingmethoddescribedbelow, the metal hoopsarereplacedwith nylon cord. The skins areattachedto the cord by meansof
In the sewingmethoddescribedbelow, the metal hoopsarereplacedwith nylon cord. The skins areattachedto the
cord by meansof nylon threadrather than by knots. Then more cord weavesthe skins to eachother.
You can employ two useddjembe skins to make a dunun.This savesmoney and also makessewing easier,asthe
You can employ two useddjembe skins to make a dunun.This savesmoney and also makessewing easier,asthe
skins are already shavenand thereforethinner.
I. PREPARATION
I. PREPARATION

Materialsskins are already shavenand thereforethinner. I. PREPARATION - a 30 or 56 litre oil barrel -

- a 30 or 56 litre oil barrel - two goatskins - solvent,rags - two
- a 30 or 56 litre oil barrel
- two goatskins
- solvent,rags
- two sheetsof sandpaper
- 1/2litre of oil paint
- 20 metersof nylon cord,4 mm in diameter
- 4 metersnylon thread,3 mm in diameter,for sewing
- 3 metersof string
Tools - a pair of metalshearsor ajigsaw - a long, sturdyneedlefor leather - a largepair
Tools
- a pair of metalshearsor ajigsaw
- a long, sturdyneedlefor leather
- a largepair of scissors
- two rectangular,double-edgedrazorblades
- a screwdriver
- a hammer
- a lighter
- pliers andleatherstitchingpalm
- a flat paintbrush
25/ Drill a hole in the top and bottom of the barrel. Then, using thejigsaw or the pliers, cut out the two ends.Be
surenot to usea barrel that hasheld toxic or inflammable products.
Using the hammer,flatten the cut edgeagainstthe inside. Carefully remove any metal shavings.
Using the hammer,flatten the cut edgeagainstthe inside. Carefully remove any metal shavings.
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32/ Sewthe next stitch at adistanceof threefmgersfrom the first. (Use your hand asa measureto make
32/ Sewthe next stitch at adistanceof threefmgersfrom the first. (Use your hand asa measureto make
32/ Sewthe next stitch at adistanceof threefmgersfrom
the first. (Use your hand asa measureto make the spa-
cing even).What'sdifficult is to keepthe skin from slip-
ping off thebarrelbeforehavingsewnall theway around.
When you have finished, tighten the thread and tie a
squareknot with the 10cm part you left
at thefIrst stitch.
33/ When the first skin hasbeen fitted, turn the barrel over, setting the skin on
33/ When the first skin hasbeen fitted, turn the barrel
over, setting the skin on the ground. This skin can also
be pulled off gently, and then repositioned after the
secondskin is sewn.
34/ Fit the otherskin on the otherend,following the sameprocedure.Be sureto makethe samenumberof stitchesonbothskins.
34/ Fit the otherskin on the otherend,following
the
sameprocedure.Be sureto makethe samenumberof
stitchesonbothskins.
sureto makethe samenumberof stitchesonbothskins. !Y.:.J::A£!Jig 351When the secondskin is sewn, place the

!Y.:.J::A£!Jig

351When the secondskin is sewn, place the barrel on its side. To hold the two
351When the secondskin is sewn, place the barrel on
its side. To hold the two skins in place and preparefor
the cord lacing, cross the 3 meters of string tightly
between the two skins (cf. 8).
3 meters of string tightly between the two skins (cf. 8). 36/ Weavethe 15meterverticaltensioncordbetween thetwo
36/ Weavethe 15meterverticaltensioncordbetween thetwo skinsby passingbackandforth undereachof thestitchesfrom oneskinto
36/ Weavethe 15meterverticaltensioncordbetween
thetwo skinsby passingbackandforth undereachof
thestitchesfrom oneskinto theother(cf. 9).
V. TENSION
37/ Pull the skins gently, eliminating the cord's
slack. This will move them down to about 2 cm
below the edge.
Pull them evenly, turning the drum two or three
times to get the desiredresult.
38/ When you have finished tightening the cord,
attach the two ends with an overhand loop. The
tension is much looser than for the djembe.
VI. FINISHING
39/ Turn up the endsof the skin andcut the excess
with the scissors(cf. 16).
401Shavethe skins if necessary(cf. 17).
41/ Finish the edgesof the skins by folding
upward, using the first method (cf. 18).
42/ The drying and finishing are the same as for
djembe (cf. 19 & 20).
43/ Weavethe horizontal tensioncord (cf. 21).
- 76-
Here is a list of WestAfrica's major musicians.Someare listed with their nicknames. Theyare
Here is a list of WestAfrica's major musicians.Someare listed with their nicknames. Theyare
Here is a list of WestAfrica's major musicians.Someare listed with their nicknames. Theyare
Here is a list of WestAfrica's major musicians.Someare listed with their nicknames.
Theyare eminentmusicians,whosework truly embodiestraditional Mandingopercussion.
Aboubakar "Abou Batteur" Ke"ita Guinean Former soloist,"Grands Ballets d' Afrique Noire de
Aboubakar
"Abou
Batteur"
Ke"ita
Guinean
Former soloist,"Grands Ballets d' Afrique Noire de Paris"; lives
in France.
Adama
Drame
Burkinabi
Lives in Ivory Coast, founded the "Ensemble Instrumental Foliba"
in 1990.
Alhusseini
"Solo"
Cherid
Guinean
Lead soloist of 'Wassa"; livesin Guinea.
Amara
Kante
Malian
Former
18t soloist,
"Sabougniouman"
Troupe
of Bamako,
foun-
ded in
1972; lives
in Mali.
Arafan
Toure
Guinean
Former
lead drummer,
"Ensemble
National
des Ballets
Africains
de Guinee";
lives
in Holland.
"Ex EnsembleNational desPercussionsde Guinee"
Koumgbanan
Conde
Guinean
Former lead drummer, "Ballet National Djoliba de Guinee",
sangba specialist; lives in Guinea.
Noumoudy
Ke"ita
Guinean
Formerlead drummer,"EnsembleNational desBallets Africains
de Guinee";deceased.
18t soloists:
Aboubakar "Fatou Abou" Camara
Guinean
Former1st soloist, "Ballet National Djoliba de Guinee";lives in
Guinea.
Lamine
"Lopez" Soumah
Guinean
Former soloist, "Ensemble National des Ballets Africains de
Guinee"; lives in Guinea.
Lance"
Kante
Guinean
Dunun specialist;lives in Guinea.
pd
soloists:
Aly "Kanya" Sylla
Guinean
Mamadou
"Mohamed"
Camara
Guinean
Also 1st soloist of "Wassa"; lives in Guinea.
Fadouba Oulare
Guinean
Former 1st lead drummer, "Ensemble National
des Ballets
Africains de Guinee", founded in 1958; lives in Guinea.
Famoudou Konate
Guinean
Former leaddrummer,"EnsembleNational desBallets Africains
de Guinee"; lives in Guinea, where he founded his own group in
1988.
Fode "Fade Marseille"
Youla
Guinean
Former soloist, "GrandsBallets d' Afrique Noire de Paris",lives
in Guinea.
-78-
Former soloist, "GrandsBallets d' Afrique Noire de Paris",lives in Guinea. -78- ADAMADRAME FAMOUDOU KONATE
ADAMADRAME
ADAMADRAME
FAMOUDOU KONATE
FAMOUDOU KONATE
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SELECTEDRECORD(NQS This selectionof Mandingo music is not exhaustive. Therecordingslistedhereare amongthe
SELECTEDRECORD(NQS This selectionof Mandingo music is not exhaustive. Therecordingslistedhereare amongthe

SELECTEDRECORD(NQS

SELECTEDRECORD(NQS This selectionof Mandingo music is not exhaustive. Therecordingslistedhereare amongthe

This selectionof Mandingo music is not exhaustive. Therecordingslistedhereare amongthe mostrepresentative.

Adama Drame
Adama Drame
Rythms of the Manding Tambour djembe Foliba Percussions mandingues Djeli Great Masters of Percussions 30
Rythms of the Manding
Tambour
djembe
Foliba
Percussions mandingues
Djeli
Great Masters of Percussions
30 ans de Djembe
Africa Soli Sali Bamba Dembele et Ie groupe Djoliba Percussions Vol 1 Vol2 :::isse Sima
Africa Soli
Sali
Bamba Dembele et Ie groupe Djoliba
Percussions
Vol
1
Vol2
:::isse
Sima Farev
(LP) Philips 6586042 (LP) Auvidis 4510 (CD) Playa Sounds 65122 (CD) Playa Sounds 65085 (LP)
(LP)
Philips 6586042
(LP)
Auvidis 4510
(CD)
Playa Sounds 65122
(CD)
Playa Sounds 65085
(LP)
Auvidis 4519
(CD)
Auvidis 6126
(CD)
Playa Sounds 65177
(CD) Sango Music 007 (Netherlands)
(CD) Sango Music 007
(Netherlands)
(K7) Syliphone 8350 (K7) Syliphone 8351
(K7)
Syliphone
8350
(K7)
Syliphone
8351
(LP) Nubia SA 300021
(LP) Nubia SA 300021
Famoudou Konate
Famoudou
Konate
Fode Youla
Fode Youla
Kassoum Diarra
Kassoum Diarra

. L a d j i C a m a r a . Ladji Camara

Les Ballets Africains de la Republique de Guinee
Les Ballets Africains
de la Republique
de Guinee
Louis Cesar Ewande
Louis Cesar Ewande
Rythmen der Malinke Guinea (CD) Museum collection 18 Staatliche Museen. Preubische Kulturbesitz. Stauffenbergstrabe 41
Rythmen der Malinke Guinea
(CD) Museum collection 18
Staatliche Museen. Preubische
Kulturbesitz.
Stauffenbergstrabe 41
1000 Berlin 30 (Germany)
Percussions Music from Africa
Kaloum
Basikolo
Ne Ne
Yancadi
(LP)
SAJ 19
(LP)
SAJ 26
(LP)
SAJ 48
(LP)
SAJ 50
(LP)
SAJ 54
Free Music
Behaimstrasse
4
1000 Berlin (Germany)
Kassama percussions
(CD) Playa Sounds 65170
Africa,
New-York
(LP) Lyrichord
LLST 7345
Vol1
(CD)
Buda Records 82513
Silo
(CD)
Buda Records 92579
Cano
(CD) Bleu Citron OMD 545
80
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