Djembe is a musical instrument with African roots. It is a drum shaped like an hourglass. Belongs to the class of membranophones.
The basis of the drum is a solid piece of wood of a certain shape: the upper part with a diameter exceeds the lower one, causing an association with a goblet. The top is covered with leather (usually goat, less often zebra, antelope, cow skins are used).
The inside of the djembe is hollow. The thinner the body walls, the harder the wood, the purer the sound of the instrument.
An important point that determines the sound is the tension density of the membrane. The membrane is attached to the body with ropes, rims, clamps.
The material of modern models is plastic, wooden fragments glued in pairs. Such an instrument cannot be considered a full-fledged djembe: the sounds produced are far from the original, heavily distorted.
Mali is considered to be the birthplace of the cup-shaped drum. From there, the tool spread first across Africa, then beyond its borders. An alternative version declares the state of Senegal to be the birthplace of the instrument: representatives of local tribes played similar structures at the beginning of the first millennium.
The stories of African natives say: the magic power of the drums was revealed to mankind by spirits. Therefore, they have long been considered a sacred object: drumming accompanied all significant events (weddings, funerals, shamanic rituals, military operations).
Initially, the main purpose of the jembe was to transmit information over a distance. Loud sounds covered the path of 5-7 miles, at night – much more, helping to warn neighboring tribes of danger. Subsequently, a full-fledged system of “talking” with the help of drums developed, reminiscent of the European Morse code.
The ever-increasing interest in African culture has made drums popular all over the world. Today, anyone can master the Play of the djemba.
How to play the djembe
The instrument is percussion, it is played exclusively with hands, no additional devices (sticks, beaters) are used. The performer stands, holding the structure between his legs. To diversify the music, to add additional charm to the melody, thin aluminum parts attached to the body, emitting pleasant rustling sounds, help.
Height, saturation, strength of the melody is achieved by force, by focusing the impact. Most African rhythms are beaten with palms and fingers.