Djembe facts from the Drumculture Music School in The Gambia. Want to know about African drumming? Many facts about the drum.
There are many djembe facts; what follows are just a few. The djembe is a type of drum that originates from West Africa. It is a very basic instrument, consisting of a wooden shell with a treated animal skin pulled taut over it and tensioned with a system of ropes.
The Djembe Wood Facts
The djembe can be made from a variety of different woods but the best woods are hardwood. The following names are taken from those used in West Africa but regional names may vary:
Djembe Skin Facts
The djembe is usually skinned with either goat skin (usually from the female goat because it is tougher) or cow skin. Goat skin gives a lighter, sharper and higher-pitched sound, cowskin gives a deeper, more resonant sound.
Djembe Tuning facts
The djembe is tuned using a system of ropes. The best rope is pre-stretched polypropylene with a diameter of about 8mm.
Miscellaneous Djembe Facts
- If the neck of the drum shell is too narrow, you will never good a good bass sound from the drum.
- A well-tuned cowskin djembe can be made to sound like a goatskin djembe.
- A djembe skin can last anything from 1 month to several years. It depends on how much the drum is played and how much the skin is tensioned.
- A djembe drum group will usually consist of about 8 players; 3 playing bass drums, 6 djembe accompanists and 2 solo players.
- The main purpose of the djembe is to provide music for dancing.