The traditional musical instrument of West Africa has a deep sound and an interesting rhythmic pattern. The cube-shaped drum is made of solid wood. The wider upper is covered in zebra, cow or goat leather. The wooden surface is always decorated with patterns and sacred drawings.
It is very interesting to play the djembe, because the drum has an unusual sound. Before you start, you need to set up the tool. There is a rope on the drum, it should be properly tied. A special node system is used. You should braid the drum with a rope until the sound is correct and clear. When the whole circle is passed, it is necessary to make a transition. To do this, properly thread the rope. Then you need to continue to braid in the other direction. The lace must be passed through the already existing vertical ropes, strongly tightening. It is necessary to act slowly, but clearly.
As a result, the vertical stripes will cross and lock into position. If this does not happen, then the rope is stretched too weakly.
While tuning the jembe, you should sit on the floor, put the instrument next to it, resting your feet on it. It is necessary to tighten down so that the knots are located as close to the bottom as possible. The rope can be pre-wound on a stick to make it easy to pull. The result is a kind of macrame.
It is important not to overtighten the djembe. Otherwise, the leather on the top may burst. It is important to understand that there is no need to weave the circle to the end. If the sound is already correct, then you can stop.
Here are some important nuances for beginner musicians.
- You need to set up the djembe yourself. This is because this is not a one-time manipulation, but a regular one. At the very beginning of training, a new tool will have to be tightened about once every 5-7 days. It all depends on the intensity of use.
- Self-configuration is easy. It is enough to do it once with the utmost attention and caution. In this case, then setting up the djembe will be extremely simple and fast.
- There is no right way. When setting up, you need to be guided by your own preferences. You should experiment with the tension of the cord, and evaluate the difference in sound. Only after that it makes sense to dwell on one option.
On the djembe, you can beat various rhythms. The game for beginners consists of the simplest strokes. To begin with, you should learn each fight separately, and then combine these elements.
Let’s take a look at the main hits.
- Ba. You should bring your fingers together, and make a blow to the center of the membrane. It is important that the hand bounces calmly, as on a trampoline. An open kick can be done with either hand.
- Cle. The beat should be in the middle of the palm with fingers wide apart. The blow falls on the edge of the membrane. Fingers of inertia also hit the skin.
- Co. An intermediate battle between the two previous ones. As a result, the hand is in the same position as with Ba. But it is necessary to beat closer to the edge of the membrane.
- Schiaffo. The left hand is located in the center of the drum, it slows down the vibrations. The right one hits Cle. If you place the left near the edge of the canvas, then the overtones will be high.
It is important to play the djembe rhythmically. Strikes with the left and right hand must be alternated. Make sure the drum resonates. To do this, it is necessary to apply open blows, in which the palm bounces. When closed, the hand tenses and presses against the surface of the drum.
On the djemba, it is possible to get 3 different tones: open, bass and slap. The first is achieved by hitting the joints near the edge of the membrane. Bass tone is obtained when fighting in the middle. The slap is the hardest. The impact sound should be as high as possible.
The djemba should be hit with varying force. This will affect the sound volume. Beats can be emphasized and slightly muffled. Thanks to this, the rhythmic pattern will be as diverse as possible.
Tool tuning is only a preparation for learning. So you can achieve the highest quality sounding djembe. After that, you can go directly to the lessons. Masters recommend warming up before starting the game and sitting on the floor. Playing the African drum requires not only physical effort, but also spiritual.
The drum can be played standing up. In this case, the instrument is kept at hand. You can also play sitting on the floor with the drum in front of you. It is better to learn to hold the instrument while standing.
There are a few tips for positioning the drum.
- Djembe can be fastened with a belt. In this case, it is hung around the neck, and the instrument is located between the knees.
- The drum should be at right angles to the player’s arms. To do this, just adjust the belts.
- It should be comfortable to stand up, and fix the djembe as firmly as possible.
You can also play the African drum while sitting on a chair. In this case, the tool must be tilted slightly away from you. In any case, it is important to conduct lessons in different poses in order to choose the most comfortable for yourself.
General rules and recommendations for playing the djembe:
- it is useful to beat the beat with your foot in the process;
- when teaching, slow rhythms with a simple pattern should be used;
- you need to study in a quiet place to hear all the overtones.
Lessons should be regular. Periodically, you will have to re-tune the instrument, while you can change the features of the sound. Over time, you can move to a faster rhythm, or just change it right while playing the melody. It is recommended to involve someone so that it is not the musician himself who beats the beat.
The following video shows the most popular djembe rhythms and how to play them.