Hello guys! As a lot of people here, i am studying djembe and sometimes i get confused about the correct hand position on tones and slaps. Mostly on slaps, some teachers say that the slaps and tones are on the same position, that the only difference is the hand relaxed on slaps, and others teachers change the position of the hand on the slap, like in these videos:
I can't say I like his technique. For the tones, he is hitting with no more than two thirds of the length of his fingers. Not good for his finger joints, I would say. Also, I do not like the amount of extraneous movement between tones and slaps. It takes more energy to do that, and it must
slow him down a little.
Not fond of that either, again because of the extraneous movement.
What do you think about them changing the hand position to get the slaps? I work my slaps and tones on the same area of the skin!!!
Many players do this. I've seen it a lot in Ghana, in particular. It shows that there is no one true and correct way of doing it: clearly, people who have what I would call less than ideal technique can still be phenomenally good players. But, I suspect, that with a little more training earlier on and getting more economical technique, they might be even better and could play with a little less effort.
Here is a short clip
from "Djembefola" with Mamady doing a demonstration. Note that as little as possible moves, giving a very efficient playing style. (Famoudou's technique is very similar.)
I'd recommend to follow Mamady's advice, at least for the first few years: play tone and slap in exactly the same place, even if you find you get a crisper slap or darker tone by changing hand position
. It will serve you well in the long run. Once you have your basic technique sorted out, there is still plenty of time to experiment with other sounds you can get by changing hand position ever so slightly.