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Slap-o-rama - Djembefola - Djembe Forum

Discuss drumming technique here
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By Waraba
#22003
Let's talk basic slap. What's the difference between a Guinea slap and a Mali slap? I don't mean 2nd slap, 3rd slap, etc., to which extensive posts have contributed. I mean slap #1. Your basic, essential slap. What is it? How should it sound?

Let's have at it.
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By Waraba
#22012
Bops? You out there? Is a Mali slap really different from a Guinea slap?
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By Dugafola
#22013
FWIW, i've seen village djembefolas in upper guinea that play with what Pluznick refers to as a "mali slap" as their primary slap.

i don't think it should be a "mali" or "guinea" designation IMO.
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By e2c
#22014
Duga - agreed.

It's a modulation of the sound and unless someone comes up with conclusive evidence as to geographic areas, I'm putting it down to individual playing styles.

It would be a dull world if everyone played exactly like X person, or Y person, or...
By bubudi
#22015
the difference between the countries is definitely apparent when you compare bamako and conakry styles of playing. i have to wonder, also, about famoudou, mamady, fadouba, koungbana, and many other guinean djembefolaw that learned in the village, who play a more open slap as their main slap, than what you see the malians generally play. it seems there is a regional influence. i've also noticed that ivorian players tend to have a unique slap technique. i don't know about a clear cut mali/guinea/ivory coast divide, but it's there in a loose sense, not taking into account particular regions' playing styles. i'm willing to bet that the forest style in guinea, for instance, is closer to what you see in ivory coast/liberia than other malinke styles. so calling it 'guinea' is somewhat misleading.

i have found that describing technique is open to misinterpretation. video would show it best. if you check out the videos of guinean players like famoudou, mamady and fadouba and compare their technique against those in the videos of sega sidibe, sega cisse, drissa kone, etc, and then compare again to the videos in the 'ivorian style' thread (video section), you'll get a much better idea of these differences.
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By e2c
#22017
fwiw, I find that different drums seem to respond to different ways of playing slaps, and I'm sure that has a lot to do with it as well.

Anyone who's playing the music is going to be looking to get the best out of an instrument, I'm thinking...

Seems like a good focus for on-site videos in Africa! And I'm willing to bet that no matter where one travels, there will be personal variations.

(I think this might be one of things that could be codified - with many qualifications - in a highly general way, but also one that breaks down a bit on closer examination. Just a hunch! ;))
By davidognomo
#22150
I tend to associate the "mali slap" to a more closed slap. I take Soungalo as an example for that. Ibrahima Sarr has a similar slap in terms of sound, though he must be the fola with the strangest hand position I've seen. I got the Tasumakan tansole lesson and noticed that Paddy has more of what I call a Mali slap.
Of course, I've seen on videos folas from Mali without this "mali slap". And also their style of solo phrasing more like what I associate to guinean style.

What makes me wonder is seeing more and more young guinean folas with this strange hand position, where the hands are more inwards than the arms. If you can't picture what I'm refering to, take as example Abou "Cobra" Camara, or Bamba Camara.
My guess is that this is related to the fact that nowadays, a dejambe fola has access to a highly streched skin from early age, wich didn't happen to the older masters.

As for the hand position to make a slap work right in a not so high tuned djembe, I take as example Gbanworo Keita, Laurent Camara, Noumoudy (from the footage recently added in ytube) and Famoudou. If you look at the older footage from Les Ballets africains you see that. Djembes are not as highly pitched, and the folas hands are spreaded a bit wider than what you see nowadays, and maybe a little more into the skin.

I believe that the shape of the shells have evolved too.

And then you have another kind of slap that I call "the adama dramé slap", wich I've never seen on anyone, with parallel hands, way into the skin.

I find this matter of great interest as I have it always in my mind when I'm practising and searching my slap(s).

What I'm beginning to believe is that there are intentional slaps and random slaps. You think of a kind of sound you want, and you go get it. Some times higher, sometimes lower pitched, sometimes open slaps, other times closed. Sometimes you missed what you were aiming for, and sometimes you get a random slap because your mind was more focused on some other aspect.

:uglynerd: this talk makes me wanna play...
By bubudi
#22166
hi david, soungalo is probably not a good example for mali because he grew up drumming in the ivory coast (on bongolo) and was completely self taught on djembe. he does have a drier sounding slap than the typical guinean slap. sarr plays quite a bit into the drum. i've seen people copy adama drame's technique, but i think to pull it off it helps to have a larger drum like the ones that adama tends to use. also, adama seems to reach further into the skin like a lot of ivory coast players do.
davidognomo wrote:What makes me wonder is seeing more and more young guinean folas with this strange hand position, where the hands are more inwards than the arms.
i can see some potential injuries with that. it's one thing to use this hand position for additional sounds, but to remain in that unnatural position for any length of time, at the volumes that these drums need to be played outdoors, is asking for trouble.
By davidognomo
#22172
bubudi wrote: davidognomo wrote:What makes me wonder is seeing more and more young guinean folas with this strange hand position, where the hands are more inwards than the arms.



i can see some potential injuries with that. it's one thing to use this hand position for additional sounds, but to remain in that unnatural position for any length of time, at the volumes that these drums need to be played outdoors, is asking for trouble.

That's what I think too. I think that with the complexity and, maybe more than that, the speed that these young djembefolas play solo phrases, this hand position is related to speed, high tension of the skin, and distinction between slaps and tones.

As for mali and guinea slaps, I guess that the differences are tending to disapear. The mali folas that for me have a typical "mali slap" are the old masters, Drissa Kone, Sega Sidibe, Aruna Sidibé...
Again, an almost closed slap, with the hand in a cup shape.
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By Dugafola
#22174
i think it comes down to hand and drum size as well as the evolution of style and sound of the djembe.

if you take a cross section sample of djembe players in a city like conakry, bamako or bobo, you'll probably find a majority of the young people play with the "bracketed" hands to a point. the older generations and/or village trained players may have had to adopt this technique due to the better quality instruments they are most likely playing and higher tensions. again, i think i mentioned earlier that if you go to the village, you'll see all kinds of hand attack on different size drums etc. effective technique, but is it the cleanest and loudest? sometimes there's only one djembe with 2 or 3 dunun...the djembe has pretty much nothing to compete with sound wise.

thinking about it from a biomechanics point of view, if you bracket your hands to 90* on the spine (your hand makes a 45* angle on the center of the spine) with your elbows out, you can generate more power and hand strength then if your arms are straight and your hands are straight...especially in the movements needed for djembe playing/solo. this wasn't taught to me by anyone associated with drumming, but rather a friends who's been studying kung fu for 10 years. i probably didn't explain that well...sorry.

of course there are exceptions to the rule and you'll have someone who can just crush a sound out of drum like blinking an eye or they've refined their hand to get a beautiful sound regardless of janky technique. but i think it definitely makes sense for bigger 'folas and ppl with big hands.

different strokes for different folks.
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By e2c
#22194
Duga - good post!

I also think some changes are attributable to people trying something new (to them) and different. Others hear/see it, and then try it themselves... and things spread.

Which is admittedly a simpler thing than trying to break this down by country. I doubt there's a musician out there who hasn't tried out different ways of playing things, just to see how it all comes out. If something works well, people will keep doing it.
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By Waraba
#22300
What about knuckles, people? When you play slap, are your knuckles...

over and past the bearing edge,
on the bearing edge, or...
below the edge?
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