Discuss drumming technique here
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By Marc_M
#8315
Hi All –

I was wondering how many other techniques the group can categorize for producing sound on the djembe.

Eliminating the obvious bass, tone, and two slaps (second slap has already been covered in forums) and flams, what other sounds can be categorized? These other sounds I hear produced in either solos or djembekans and mostly by djembe masters such as Mamady.

The only one I have been officially taught is the muffled tone and muffled slap which is produced using your opposite hand on the centre of the drum (but turned on edge instead of flat as for a bass sound) while producing the traditional tone and slap sound. I have also seen the tip of the middle finger used to dampen the tone/slap instead of the edge of the hand.

I have also seen videos of Mamady (amongst others) use a cupping technique on the edge of the drum where the hand is held on the drum slightly to dampen the tone, but I haven’t ever been shown the technique by a teacher.

Second, I have seen a 3 or four finger spread and flick technique, but again, I have never been shown this by a teacher.

I sure there are many others. Perhaps members could post their favourite techniques and perhaps links to videos by masters.

I will be going to Cuba for Winter break and thought it would be fun to have a few conga lessons on the beach. Some of the techniques may be similar to conga techniques such as the rim muffled cup, so I thought I might add to my sound repetoire.

Cheers.
User avatar
By e2c
#8316
Whatever works, works. You might want to listen to some of Adama Drame's recordings for ideas... but ultimately, I think just taking time to fool around with the drum and see what sounds you can make is one of the most effective ways of figuring this out - and you don't need to be a master drummer to do it. it's more about seeing what kinds of "colors" and "textures" you can get from the skin. Even a thick skin will respond to subtle changes in pressure... and you can use that to produce a number of distinct pitches on your djembe. (And duns, if you feel like playing with your hands.)

I've adapted a lot of stuff from frame drum and darbouka playing to make my sound vocabulary on djembe a bit wider.

One thing from frame drums (where a variety of tones and slaps are used) that works well: allow you palm to catch just a little air (let it cup very slightly) on the bass. You'll get a nice, loud "pop" sound.

A lot of the things that I do come from slightly altering the placement of my fingers and the overall angle of my hand, but that's hard to describe in words - wish I could video it for you.

You might also want to experiment a bit with using a fingertip (or two) or the side of your palm (etc.) to produce different kinds of muted strokes. (Which you've already mentioned, but my suggestion is to see how many different kinds of sounds you can get with this...) Not hard to do, and very effective! Touching or striking the skin with your knuckles also works, but be careful not to use much force when doing that. ;)
Last edited by e2c on Fri Nov 27, 2009 10:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By Carl
#8319
Two thoughts:

Tonpalo (not sure of the spelling) the "second slap" (or third slap or forth slap... depending on who you are talking too) used in the Ivory Coast and Burkina Fasso. Mostly I've heard it used in place of tones in otherwise common accompaniments ("passport" for example) it is darker than the standard slap, and has an "overtone" sound to it.

there is a heal-toe technique, very similar to the conga technique which comes from the Manian areas (not sure about the area, I'm just starting on the technique and I've spent more time practicing than worrying about region. I'm using it in the solo to Kuku, so that would make sense, but I do not have verification off the top of my head)

Anyone back me up on this?

C
User avatar
By e2c
#8323
Check Drisa Kone's half-muted strokes here - done with his fingertips. I also like the way he starts using his right hand (about halfway in) - notice how it kind of skims out to the side after he touches the skin. You can hear more of his playing on The Art of Jenbe Drumming - the Mali Tradition, V. 2.

Last edited by e2c on Mon Nov 23, 2009 7:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By bops
#8326
Hey Marc, been a while. Hope you're well. Heading to Cuba, eh? You lucky Canadians.
Carl wrote:Tonpalo (not sure of the spelling) the "second slap" (or third slap or forth slap... depending on who you are talking too) used in the Ivory Coast and Burkina Fasso. Mostly I've heard it used in place of tones in otherwise common accompaniments ("passport" for example) it is darker than the standard slap, and has an "overtone" sound to it.

there is a heal-toe technique, very similar to the conga technique which comes from the Manian areas (not sure about the area, I'm just starting on the technique and I've spent more time practicing than worrying about region. I'm using it in the solo to Kuku, so that would make sense, but I do not have verification off the top of my head)

Anyone back me up on this?
You mean kpanlogo? I know a few Ghanaians who play some jembe as well as kpanlogo. Their slap is very cupped. It's not the same as what is played in jembe-land. For example, the kpanlogo slap uses the thumbs to trap air under the hand. Very loud if done correctly, but chokes the sound out of the drum IMO. Also, you can't play anything fast with that technique. Just loud.

Some of my Malian teachers position their hands further forward on the rim of the drum when playing a slap. Your fingers may curve bit, but I wouldn't call it a cup - definitely not the same technique as what the Ghanaians are doing. This takes some practice if you learned to play slap with your knuckles over the rim. This type of slap (not sure what you'd call it, since it's my "number one slap") gives a higher pitch than the aforementioned "Guinea slap". The skin rings less, and cuts more. You can hear a lot of drummers playing this way in varying degrees. Fadouba has a hint of it, Soungalo even more. Abdoul, very much so.

I like playing with my fingers. Index finger plays the slap, middle finger plays tones. Any phrase imaginable can be played with just the fingers.
User avatar
By e2c
#8328
I like playing with my fingers. Index finger plays the slap, middle finger plays tones. Any phrase imaginable can be played with just the fingers.
Yeah! Same here. I started doing it for fun after noticing that a lot of well-educated djembe players were playing that way. The technique is a a shade different than how it's done on darbouka, but not by much.

Abdoul: yes, I can hear that. And I really like the sound it produces.
User avatar
By Carl
#8329
bops wrote:You mean kpanlogo?
Nope.

I think of it as tone - pa - low. Definitely a djembe thing, and seems to be regionally specific (hence the reason I brought it up, I figured this group would have a good time with it)

C

As to other techniques/sounds, don't forget kesekeses! they can be hit, or you can shake your drum to play them like shakers.
User avatar
By e2c
#8331
Sege sege: can be played with fingers, too - with just enough pressure to produce a clean, clear sound. (No need to hit 'em for this!)

You can also try bracing one hand against the rings/rim of the drum (hand would be sort of vertical) and making a vibrating movement - a *small,* controlled shake, done very quickly, with one hand against the drum the entire time. that'll get the sege sege buzzing! (It's a tambourine technique, sort of.) * Would definitely help if I had a video example, I'm thinking...
Last edited by e2c on Mon Nov 23, 2009 8:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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By e2c
#8333
Adama Dramé solo (apologies for the poor quality image and sound on the 1st clip) -





* My guess on that 1st solo is that he's incorporated some techniques used for playing tombak (a Persian goblet drum, far smaller than the djembe) into his playing, and maybe a bit of Arabic stuff as well, plus a little inspiration from some contemporary frame drum styles. I think it all works amazingly well in terms of how he uses it to get what he wants from his instrument.
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By Nodrog
#8344
Hi there,

Being a relative newcomer to the world of djembefola and not a trad student I'm sure I have picked up lots of unorthodox playing techniques. I am aware that most of what I do would not work in a trad setting or even in a drum circle.

I'm sure the key element is volume that can have a huge influence on what can be played or not. As you may recall from some of my other posts, I bought my djembe to provide a nice beat to play my acoustic bass and guitars and bouzoukie to and so I can play at really low volume levels and get quite a lot of detail. I don't really know whether I am using proper djembe methods or conga style even. Main thing is to me, I'm getting sounds out of it and as long as I can keep good time and put a few suitable fills in, well, that's all I need. I am slowly getting the hang of using my Boss BR600 recorder so I hope to post a few 'sketches' fairly soon. My favourite move so far is the one finger diagonal flick off the right side which gives a nice almost timbale type sound. Is this a trad technique? I know that this is a very old drum and I'm sure there is nothing to find that as not been done before at some point.

Gordon. :D
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By Carl
#8346
bops wrote:Interesting... I've never heard of Tonpalo. Where did you learn about that?
Mahiri's got me working on it... He said that when he was in the area, he was at first confused... thinking "what's happening to their technique, doesn't anyone know how to play?" then he found out what was really going on...
:twisted:

He demonstrated the technique on Soboninkun, which in addition to the feel, and a sweet variation on the sangba part, just about blew my mind! (sucks that my recorder was full at the time so I didn't capture it!!!!!! :x )

So far I think I've made the right sound twice... out of hundreds of attempts...
:flex:

C
Last edited by Carl on Mon Nov 23, 2009 7:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By Carl
#8348
Not yet, in fact, I'm only 70% sure I've got the name right. With all of the material that I'm working on, the "special effects" are taking a back seat in my study time.

I know that he and his gang have been doing a lot of study in the Ivory Coast area, so that's a good bet, but I'll have to ask him about the details when I have some time.

C
User avatar
By michi
#8356
At San Diego, Mamady taught a break for Matoto that includes an ususual technique: it's a muffled tone/bass. Basically, the hand strikes with the heel very close to the rim, and the fingers come down a fraction later and stick on the skin. However, the hand is slightly cupped, similar to a closed conga slap. So, imagine a closed conga slap that is played very close to the edge of the playing surface, but such that the heel of the hand strikes first.

The sound is this interesting dry hybrid somewhere between a bass and a tone.

Cheers,

Michi.