The best of – the good stuff you may have missed

We’ve been online since 2008, so we have a lot of great information and learning resources to help you learn more about this music, culture, and become a better drummer. It can however be difficult for people who have just found us to find all the good content that has passed before, so I hope to highlight some of our best content here.


djembefola interviews

We have done interviews with well known djembe players and teachers, from master drummers to non-africans who have been around the global djembe communities for many years. You can learn a lot from their experiences and knowledge so you may want to check them out…

The most recent was with Master djembefola Bolokada Conde.

Don’t miss this hour and half long lecture from Mamady Keita, this interview with M’Bembe Bangoura, and these other interviews.

It’s important to know about the great djembefolas who have come before, so that you know the history of the instrument and can track down quality videos, workshops, and learning material. We have an artists section, where we have biographies on some of the best drummers and dancers past and present.

Drum notation

We also have a powerful djembe notation system, that allows anyone to easily make their own djembe or dundun notation, that can be edited later, emailed or shared on social, media with friends or other people in the forum. The idea is to make it easy for us to share, discuss and learn from each other. Notation that is marked as ‘public’ (for public consumption – your notation can also be private), appear on the public drum notation page.

We recently also developed a notation player for the system that will actually play the notation (this currently only works on the Google Chrome web browser, and currently only for djembe drums), you can see an example of this in action, if you click play on this page. So if you want to explain or share something with someone you can simply create it on the notation system, and email someone a link to the phrase, where they can read it, or even listen to it with the player.

Otherwise you can just enjoy the drum notation that other people have already shared.

Djembe and drum rhythms

There is also a djembe rhythms section that has a huge list of traditional and modern drum rhythms. There is always new content being added there, as it connects with drum notation system and automatically pulls in any notation that someone has added (and marked as public), along with descriptions and videos we have added. It also pulls in links to any mentions this rhythm gets in the djembe forum. The page for Soko, is currently the most developed, and we are building this out over time so expect this to grow.

Your online drumming community, is the biggest English language djembe forum online, and we have many years of sharing from our awesome community from which you can benefit. You can also create your own djembe blog, where you instantly have an interested audience, or if writing isn’t your thing you can enjoy reading about other drummer’s experiences. Connect with other drummers on the djembefola djembe forum, share and learn with other people who have the same passion, and even bring these relationships into the real world, as many of us have already done.

We have gone into quite a few rhythms in deeper detail with our Rhythm of the month section in the forum, this part of the site requires you to login, or register if you haven’t already got a free account, and some of the conversations we have had pull on the unique experiences of many experienced students of the djembe.

For most of the larger international djembe communities we have a ‘countries page’, where you’ll find local information about what’s happening in your community. Any djembe related events that you are organising can be added to our events section (events can be added here) and they then appear on the related international page. To see if we have a page for your country, check out the international djembe page.

Any events added to are automatically posted into the forum for discussion, and anyone who has subscribed for that country is emailed the details of the event. More information about adding events to

Djembe, Drumming and cultural articles

Both experienced drummers and beginners will find the djembefola glossary useful, as it explains some terminology that is used both in the djembe forum, and our articles.

If you are considering buying a djembe, then be sure to check out our guide to buying a djembe, and this article about the different kinds of woods used to make djembes.

At some point, you may consider going to Africa to study drum or dance and in this case, have a look at this article, which explores the various option when studying in Africa.

We have several articles that aim to help you play better djembe.

If you want to improve and understand djembe culture and music, they we really recommend learning more about the culture and context in which it’s played. We have articles on the role of traditional djembe drumming, traditional west african djembe music dancing, and the art of Jeliya.

We also have an instructional article on how to make your own dundun stands.

Djembe lessons

In addition to the articles above, we provide a few options when it comes to learning drumming here on We have some free djembe lessons available.

We also partnered with Tasumakan a few years ago, to bring you top notch djembe instructional videos, that are available to download instantly.

It’s been a great 7 years so far, and we plan to keep bringing you the highest quality djembe related news, articles, lessons and resources, so if you haven’t already done so, be sure to signup to our newsletter to get our latest content first.


A Tribute to Paul Engel

The '80s-'90s Famoudou Konaté Ensemble, with Famoudou Konaté, Paul Engel, Fanta Kaba & Silvia Kronewald

This was written by and is being published here with permission of the Chicago Djembe project.

This email is a tribute to Paul Bernard Engel (b. 9/28/1951), the grandfather of the German Djembe Community ( who blessed so many people’s lives –professionally and personally.
Paul Bernhard Engel passed away on June 12, 2012. Everyone — especially younger drummers who hadn’t even begun playing djembe “back in the day” — should know who Paulwas.

Together with his partner Silvie Kronewald, who also died prematurely (in 1997), Paul was one of the first to bring knowledge (even awareness!) of Malinke music to the Western world, introducing European musicians to its intricacies and nuances with a fierce dedication.

In North America, many djembe students and teachers may have seen his name on a classic CD: in the 1980s, Paul Engel was contracted by the Ethnological Museum of Berlin to produce field recordings of the legendary Famoudou Konate on location in Conakry/Simbaya. Since these recordings were released in 1991, along with extensive liner notes and notation, this CD has become a Malinke classic. Known in many English-speaking circles as “the Museum CD”, “Rhythmen der Malinke” was one of the first recorded documents of traditional Malinke music in Guinea.

The six-year period (1986-1991) that Paul Engel and Silvie Kronewald spent working intimately, and exclusively, with Famoudou Konaté (former first soloist for the National Ballet of Guinea/Les Ballets Africains de Guineé) — organizing workshops, concerts, classes and European tours with Konaté and his entourage (Fanta Kaba, Daouda Kourouma, and others) — represented a profound turning point in Paul’s life. Paul was already an accomplished guitarist, pianist and percussionist when he first began working with Konaté — he was well-versed in Latin American traditions, and had become an expert on “Adama Dramé-technique” from extensive study and collaboration with Dramé in Germany, France and Senegal; he had also studied with members of the Tettey-Addy family in Ghana.

But none of these traditions captivated his genius the way the rhythms of the Malinke did.Paul made a significant and pioneering contribution to the worldwide understanding of this music by transcribing Malinke rhythms as they were played by master drummers in Guinean villages–in their entirety, with bass lines, variations, solos — into classical Western musical notation. Paul’s transcription of these rhythms — both in classic Western notation and in the modified notational system he devised to bring them “to paper” even for students of the music who do not read music — represent invaluable documentation of a musical form and musical events that may have otherwise been lost. Paul played a pivotal role in developing the intensive workshop format and pedagogical approach that has since become an international standard for quality instruction in the rhythms of the Malinke.

Through years of annual, extended stays in West Africa and playing at traditional festivals there (with Adama Dramé, Famoudou Konaté, Mamady Keita, Fadouba Olaré, Daouda Kourouma, Noumoudy Keita, and many others), Paul developed an incredible and profound understanding of the music and culture of the Malinke, which he shared freely and expertly with all of his students. In 1986, Paul was the first European drummer to bring students (a small group of drummers from Berlin) to study on location in Conakry, Guinea.

His dedication to the music, to his students, and his expert pedagogy soon made him one of the most sought-after teachers in Germany and Europe. From 1994 to 2010, he offered multi-year training seminars in Malinke music at his compound in Germany. His passion for Malinke music was matched by an intense passion for teaching, and for his students. Paulwas not only a skilled and extremely knowledgeable music instructor and professional musician, he was an extraordinary human being who shared valuable life wisdom as freely and with as much passion as he had for the music. His brilliant ear for precision and perfection in the music was equally open and attentive to his students’ non-musical concerns, and he could always be counted upon to provide genuine and wise counsel. Paulmasterfully combined passion, precision and perfection to a work of art in his relationships to the music, and to the students’ whose lives have been so enriched by his own.

Students came to Paul from all over Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden to participate in Paul’s intensive training program — the first ever of its kind, not only in Europe, but in the world. Many of Paul’s former students have gone on to become professionals in their own right — and there is hardly a qualified instructor or student of Malinke music who does not ultimately trace his/her lineage back to Paul Engel, Grandfather of the European Djembe Community. In almost every German city, there is a djembe instructor who was trained by Paul Engel — but his contributions have benefited international djembe communities — from Holland to Japan, the US, Canada and beyond.

In 2010, Paul suffered a heart attack, then lay in a coma for three weeks and never fully recovered.

Please send positive thoughts, love and rhythms to accompany Paul on his last journey with the drums. Drum for him, if you can.

In loving memory of an excellent teacher and extraordinary human being, and a true friend, we wish him all the best on this last leg of his journey.

(Posted on behalf of Paul Engel’s students and friends in Europe and North America.)

Grand Master’s Tour – An Important Message from Mamady Keita and Famoudou Konate

The djembe is the symbol of joy

As many of you know the Grand Master’s Tour has just finished up.

Here’s a great message from Mamady and Famoudou.

Here’s a transcription:

This tour that we are now finishing, is a tour that I have dreamed of for years.

Why have we done this tour?

It’s to show between djembefolas you must have repect not jealously. It’s not a competition.

If you give a djembe to your student, they can do the phrases you can do.

So we’re here to show the djembefolas of the world, not to create competition, but to create repect.

Because if the 2 of us create competition between us, then all the djembefolas that follow us, will make a war amonst themselves. Especially the young.

So we are creating an example for the young people, a good example.

In addition to this, I would like to say, in the name of my big brother, thank you for being here.

Don’t think of yourselves as white. Think of yourselves as doing the same mission as us.

What is that mission?

To preserve and protect the tradition of Mandeng.

And to protect tradition all over the world, and we must respect it.

..and our mission and your misssion is freedom and tollerance. To have good spirit, to be open.

To show that colour doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist. What really matters is spirit.

Let the politicians create the borders, but us the people, we will remove the borders from our hearts.

We’ll come together and work together, we’ll come together and dance together. We’ll play together, we’ll celebrate togehers. The djembe is the symbol of joy.

My big brother and I are going to do a demonstratrion. Just to say thank you very much for being here.

…and to say that we love you from the bottom of our hearts.

Exciting new way of learning djembe

Hey djembefolas

I’m really excited to announce the launch of a really exciting project that has been in the pipeline for years (literally):
Tasumakan – The sound of Fire, is the latest way to learn djembe drumming online.

It is a collaboration between and Tasuma Productions (aka our very own Bops of Wadoma fame).
You can now buy the first Rhythm of the series, Tansole, right now.

As a way of saying thank you we are giving away a free “review copy” away to one lucky person (drawn at random) every day on the forum from Friday the 8th until Tuesday the 12th of July.

All you have to do is come and say hi in this thread on Friday and make sure you have Introduced yourself.
The idea of a review copy is that you tell us what you think. There’s of course no way to enforce that, but …. meh…. we’ll see what happens

We are also giving away a copy to 5 lucky people who come like my “Tasumakan” post on the facebook by Friday

If you want to support, this your opportunity – we’d love any help you can give us to spread the work!
Liking on Facebook is the easiest or why not forward this to a friend.

I genuinely think these are top quality training videos and they would help most beginner to high advanced intermediate players become better drummers.

Find out more about Tasumakan here.

Thanks for your support.
James and Paddy

Djembe and African music Spotify playlists

I’ve been using Spotify to listen to a bit of Djembe music when I don’t have my music with me.

Spotify isn’t available in all countries, but I highly recommend it if it is available to you. I love it.

Here’s a play list I put together to show what’s available:

Djembe playlist

Here’s an African Music playlist (mostly West African):

African music playlist