Advice and questions on making and fixing instruments
User avatar
By Djembe-nerd
#15757
The shape of DSD shells is more tapered from throat to surface than the Wula shells which are quite square from thorat to surface.

I understand that square with less throat means cracking slaps. Mamady had a drum in Minin Guinea quite square.

Any one with shells from both or their experiences.
User avatar
By e2c
#15758
The last time i checked the Wula store (about 10 days ago), they had several different variations of their current build, though I'm going entirely on pics of the outside of the shells. Being able to see inside the bowls would clarify a lot, I'm thinking.

Mine was made several years ago, when the shape was closer - at least from the outside - to what DSD appears to be selling now.

(On the whole, I prefer Mali-style shells - more depth, richness of sound "color," etc.)

*

I think Tom does a whole lot of fine-tuning and tweaking. Maybe he'll have a chance to post in this thread. Would love to get his take on things!
User avatar
By Dugafola
#15774
Djembe-nerd wrote:The shape of DSD shells is more tapered from throat to surface than the Wula shells which are quite square from thorat to surface.

I understand that square with less throat means cracking slaps. Mamady had a drum in Minin Guinea quite square.

Any one with shells from both or their experiences.
what do you mean by "less throat?"

both shops have some insane looking drums on hand right now it seems...but i don't have a guinea shell from either.
#15776
I think the bowl shape effects the tones more than anything. The more volume (area) inside the bowl the rounder, fuller the tone. I've heard good slaps on anything with the proper technique. The real music is in the tone of the drum, and I do love a drum with big volume in the bowl. I've never played a artist or special drum from wula though.
User avatar
By Dugafola
#15777
Rhythm House Drums wrote:I think the bowl shape effects the tones more than anything. The more volume (area) inside the bowl the rounder, fuller the tone. I've heard good slaps on anything with the proper technique. The real music is in the tone of the drum, and I do love a drum with big volume in the bowl. I've never played a artist or special drum from wula though.
agreed.

slaps are heard by the ears.

tones are felt by the body.

that's why i love playing with Famoudou.
User avatar
By Tom
#15778
The initial post states:
The shape of DSD shells is more tapered from throat to surface than the Wula shells which are quite square from throat to surface drums are quite square from throat to surface.
I would say that it is the other way around, at least with regards to Guinea djembes. In general, DSD's Guinea djembes have a definite squared-off-V-shape. Some of Wula’s Standard and Classic model drums tend towards this shape somewhat, in variying degrees, but our higher end Artist and Special Piece models have distinctly more tapered, fuller form bowls; with our Select model being somewhere in between.

The squared off V shape can help a beginner/intermediate to achieve more distinct slaps, but at some expense of tone quality. A more tapered, fuller bowl offers a wider acoustic spectrum, richer undertones, and therefore a more intricate "voice"; which is exactly why we developed this form in our higher end djembes. More experienced players have more developed technique, which allows them to get the most out of this type of drum. To see examples, check the links below:

http://wuladrum.com/store/index.php/cPa ... /2a/page/1

http://wuladrum.com/store/index.php/cPath/53

http://wuladrum.com/store/product_info. ... cts_id/699

I have written a short essay on Guinea djembe form and history, for the Djembefola forum, which has been on hold for weeks because I haven't had the time to cap it off and edit it. James (site moderator) has encouraged me to finish and submit the essay, so I will do so this weekend and get it posted. I believe it will help to dispel some of the myths that have been circulating.

Last week I was looking through DSD’s site and found the following information:
Characterized aesthetically by their relatively straight design, djembes of Guinea have primarily retained the traditional Maninka features. While other countries choose to create djembes of deeper tone, Guinea is constantly moving towards a "tighter" sound. Through the combination of a more squared off bowl and a relatively small throat opening, these drums easily produce a powerful slap while maintaining a full range of tone and bass.
It is true that Guinea has moved toward the straight sided V shape form, but it is due to economization in the carving process and cost cutting, rather than considerations of sound. Also, this move has taken place over the past 30 years, approximately, and especially over the past 15. The traditional shape of the Malinke (Maninka) Guinea djembe was actually an extreme bowl shape, and not the straight sided shape V shape. Also, these tighter form djembes do not maintain as full of a range in tone and bass.

Not to say that DSD is knowingly putting out misinformation, because very few people know the true history of the Guinea djembe form; and from my understanding, DSD’s main experience is with Mali drumming and drums (nice form on their Mali djembes, btw). Also, to be fair, the other day I discovered an error on our site regarding wood vs. carving (in relation to acoustics) which I need to correct, so we are guilty as well.

This is an interesting thread and I hope that it develops. I can go on forvever about djembe form and carving. This weekend I will finish up my essay and post it, along with photo examples. One note of interest; about four years ago I purchased a very old djembe shell from a Guinean family, which they had passed down from generation to generation. The original owner (their ancestor) had been an important and celebrated djembe master. A large chunk of the stem had broken off and they felt that they could no longer keep the shell without it receiving more damage. It is a perfect example of the earlier form, and if I can get Galen at our shop in Brooklyn to snap and email a photo of it to me this weekend, then I will include it with the essay.


Best Regards,
User avatar
By Dugafola
#15779
thanks Tom. looking fwd to the article.

does it happen to touch on the subject of bowl shape and it's effect on sound projection?
User avatar
By e2c
#15783
Am anxious to read your post, Tom!

(You're also making me want to see if I can scrape up the cash to buy one of your newer drums... I like the bowl shape very much.)

Like Duga, I'd be very interested in reading about the the mechanics of carving/shaping the inside of the bowl. (Acoustic properties, too.)
User avatar
By Tom
#15803
Dugafola wrote:does it happen to touch on the subject of bowl shape and it's effect on sound projection?
Not specifically on projection, but more on overall dynamics, range of acoustics, and quality of sound. At least I don't remember addressing projection, but I could be wrong (I set the essay aside some weeks ago, but will finish it up tomorrow). From my experience, projection is affected by both bowl and throat/stem dimensions, and how the two work together. I have pretty much gotten the bowl form and dimension where I want it, but am still moving the carvers towards a "modified traditional" stem. By that I mean the straight stem of the older, traditional form, but with a flair on the bottom 1/4. In my opinion the throat and stem dimensions have the most dramatic effect on projection, and on tone quality. What's your opinion on how bowl shape effects projection?
e2c wrote:Like Duga, I'd be very interested in reading about the the mechanics of carving/shaping the inside of the bowl. (Acoustic properties, too.)
Proper carving/shaping of the bowl interior makes a huge difference, especially at the bottom ledge of the bowl, and is something that is almost always negelcted; for good reason. Physically it is the most difficult part of djembe carving, and so carvers generaly do not remove enough wood from the interior ledge. It wasn't until early 2009 that I got our carvers to carve them out exactly like I want them, and that was after a long, uphill battle; along with raises in pay. By the time I left for the US last August, we had only one of our carvers carving interiors. I consider him a specialist because he does such incredible, clean interior carving. He was an apprentice of Samba (a legendary Guinean djembe carver), but is only in his mid-twenties and is a very strong, musclar guy. His name is Mory, but I've given him the nickname of Jack Hammer. He's all heart.
e2c wrote:(You're also making me want to see if I can scrape up the cash to buy one of your newer drums... I like the bowl shape very much.)
Well, if you wait just a little longer you can do little less scraping. I'll give some details later, but if you want to receive the official announcement then go to our site, home page, and sign up for our newsletter.

Best Regards,
By bubudi
#15821
tom, i'm also very much looking forward to the article. the effect of shape and other bowl characteristics on the sound dynamics and acoustics is a fascinating topic.

regarding history of the guinea drum shape, i'm thinking that's going to be hard to define as there are 3 main regions where the djembe comes from, each with their own heritage (and i've seen village style drums from each of the 3 which were fairly different in shape and size. i wish i had photos to post). there's the fula shape which is more bowl shaped and has a straighter leg. drum suppliers often call this the 'wassolon' style djembe. the documentaries showing old djembes from villages in upper guinea show this basic shape, although it's getting a bit straighter, especially the further south the village is (proximity to the forest region). then there's the forest style, which is more conical in shape and usually a bit smaller. then there's the coastal style. you can see some of these in the documentary 'landouma fare', but i've seen a video shot in conakry with some very old (c. 100 years) susu sangbanyi with a similar build. it's a bit more like the modern guinean shape, but thicker carved, and around 10" diameter. from the limited info i have gained from teachers and from seeing old drum specimens, it seems that historically djembes tended to be around that size and have gotten increasingly larger (and straighter) over the last 25 years. that's probably because increasingly, people want those cracking slaps.
User avatar
By the kid
#15824
Interesting dear watson, interesting.... :smokin:

It also depends on the hand which beatit i say..

Let the intelectual debate procede

It's like fluid mechanics for djembe lovers

I'm intrigued

:mrgreen:
User avatar
By Tom
#15828
I should have been more specific in my wording. I am only addressing traditional Malinke djembe form, from the Kan Kan and surrounding area, and how it changed as the djembe became more popular; and as drum and dance groups migrated into Conakry from the interior. To have said "Guinea djembe" was misleading as it is just too broad a term. Even within a narrower definition there is the risk of over genearlization, because, as carvers have explained to me, djembe form varied slightly from village to village depending on the drum carvers' specific styles; sort of like how a certain rhythm could vary from on area to another. Once the djembe migrated from to Conakry it changed significantly, and became more uniform from carver to carver.

I will offer up what I have learned during my time in Guinea, working with the carvers, but I intend it as just one piece of the puzzle and not as anything definitive. Even defining what a djembe is an be tricky. During some of the holidays in Gunea, the fula groups come from the villages to play traditional fula flute music in the compounds in Conakry. The "djembe" that the drummer plays is more like a hybrid between a djembe and an ashiko form, because the bowl is so narrow. From what I understand, the Fulas did not play djembes or djembe music as we know them, but that in a large way they became the carvers of the djembes. Most of the carvers I know in Conakry are Fula. The djembe you describe as being a Fula djembe actually sounds like the form of the old Malinke djembes, from the Kan Kan and surrounding areas. Maybe these issues will become clear as this thread continues, and once I get the article posted. There were probably more variations of djembe type drums than we can imagine, so I'm trying to limit my subject to a pretty narrow field. Also, once I get back to Guinea in December I'll do some more in depth research on the different variations.
By bubudi
#15833
tom, i think you're right about the fula/wassolon shape as being very close to the older style malinke upper guinea style. wassolon was once quite a center of the development of djembe playing, according to some djembe masters, so i would expect surrounding regions would have been influenced with regards to the shape of the djembe. also, as you say, quite a few djembe carvers are fula (interesting to know whether that is a development in conakry over the last 50 years or whether it was already happening in upper guinea before that).

good point about all the variations of shape in different villages/regions. there are probably quite a lot of shapes most of us on this site haven't seen before. nate from onetree drums seems to know the names of some of the shapes of drums coming from mali. another guy is jeremy who runs the djembe hotel in bamako and sells the 'jina djembe' line among others. i imagine that the bamana shapes are somewhat distinct from what's found in guinea, but the maninka shapes in the south of mali would be fairly similar to what you'd find across the border in upper guinea. a bit more research to do...
User avatar
By Dugafola
#15840
Tom wrote:
Dugafola wrote:does it happen to touch on the subject of bowl shape and it's effect on sound projection?
Not specifically on projection, but more on overall dynamics, range of acoustics, and quality of sound. At least I don't remember addressing projection, but I could be wrong (I set the essay aside some weeks ago, but will finish it up tomorrow). From my experience, projection is affected by both bowl and throat/stem dimensions, and how the two work together. I have pretty much gotten the bowl form and dimension where I want it, but am still moving the carvers towards a "modified traditional" stem. By that I mean the straight stem of the older, traditional form, but with a flair on the bottom 1/4. In my opinion the throat and stem dimensions have the most dramatic effect on projection, and on tone quality. What's your opinion on how bowl shape effects projection?
I can't really say i've formulated my own opinion. i know what i like sound wise in a drum and go from there. in my experience, i've noticed that the rounder the bowl, the lesser the projection. this is especially true of the big Jinas i've played from Jeremy in Bamako. I don't own one, but there are quite a few in the Bay area that i've played over the past couple years. it's a nice big sound though.

It is true that Guinea has moved toward the straight sided V shape form, but it is due to economization in the carving process and cost cutting, rather than considerations of sound. Also, this move has taken place over the past 30 years, approximately, and especially over the past 15.
do you think that the major exporters of guinea drums(or drums from anywhere) have affected the overall form/size/shape of guinea shells? for good or bad? it seems like you're definitely the one influencing the size/shape/proportions of the drums you're importing and selling...i know ryan is reading too...maybe he'll chime in.

(sorry to pull this off topic...after reading Vera Flaig's dissertation on the globalization of guinea djembe, some of this stuff parallels a lot of the points she hit on.)