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Rudiments on Djembe - Djembefola - Djembe Forum

Discuss drumming technique here
By djembeweaver
I read the the same post last week and got thinking about rudiments and the djembe. Looking at the list of 40 or so snare rudiments it is surpising how few are applicable to djembe.

Indeed, years ago, when I first became aware of paradiddles (and became aware that I was rubbish at them) I started practicing them. Over the years I come back to it every now and then because I think it develops control. The thing is I never practice enough to really get good at it because the technique does not exist in any phrases I've learned on djembe. There are other techniques, just as challenging, that occur regularly on the djembe that are more important for me to master.

Apart from the obvious difference between stick and hand there is another important difference between djembe and snare: Bass, tone, slap. This increases the complexity of even simple techniques exponentially and means that any 'rudiment' is rendered meaningless without good tone-slap differentiation.

So while paradiddles etc might be good practice for coordination, more important 'rudiments' on djembe might be things such as:
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Other contenders might be different types of roll and polyrhythmic / polymetric pulses.

I have often wondered what the 'rudiments' would be if djembe were subsumed into the western classical system.

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By michi
In general, I think that pretty much any rudiment you do will help to improve dexterity, stamina, and timing. Having said that, many of the drum kit rudiments don't really translate all that well to the (traditional) djembe. In particular, double strokes with the same hands are rare.

But there are djembe exercises (or rudiments, if you prefer) too. Every teacher I've had has his share of pet phrases for warm-ups and the like. They are designed to build stamina, timing, speed, and dexterity much like drum kit rudiments are.

There are some suggestions here: teacher-corner/adding-basses-t1914.html

There are hundreds more like this. The sky is the limit… :)

By bkidd
My understanding of drum rudiments is they are basic strokes that every drummer should know and they usually have accompanying techniques that are designed to drill particular skills (timing, dexterity, hand independence, hand equality, feel) and mimic patterns or strokes that one is more likely to encounter while playing. If that's the case, and we translate this concept of rudiments to the djembe, there are many possibilities. It just so happens that, like the others have said, paradiddle-type doubling of a hand is extremely rare on djembe so it's hard to call it a rudiment. I've never seen this come up in any of the hundreds of accompaniment patterns that I've learned and only rarely in improvisation techniques traditional teachers have taught or from what I've seen people play most contexts.

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By e2c
Playing rudiments on duns makes a lot more sense to me than playing them on djembe - if only because duns are played with sticks.

TNT, I think that the more actual djembe music you learn, the more fascinated you'll be... I have no problem with people doing "fusion"-type stuff with djembe and duns, but I think that the more you [plural] know of the African patterns and music, the more you have to work with.
By djembeweaver
TNT wrote:“Looking at the list of 40 or so snare rudiments it is surprising how few are applicable to djembe.”

With all due respect to each their own, we’ll have to agree to disagree on that. I have played them all on the Djembe and they work great! As I op’ed, I didn’t start this thread to debate what is already posted. I think the problem is a lot of people don’t understand rudiments and how to apply them effectively to any drum.
Hi TNT. I doubt we disagree at all. I never meant to imply that you can't play rudiments on a djembe (Indeed I said that I practice them from time to time). When I said they are not applicable I simply meant that they don't turn up in either solo or accompaniment phrases on djembe. For that reason I always end up practising other things. Like I said I think they are great for developing coordination.
Point in case, anyone that is familiar with the snare knows that it has more than three pitches to work with. Just like the Djembe, as you play closer to the rim you get a higher pitch sound like a “slap”. If you play a rim shot more pitches, and if you do the rim shot at different locations on the skin even more just toward the rim. You’ll find many different pitches or “tones” if you will as you go towards center, center having the deepest or “bass”. If you have kit experience, you know this applies to all the different toms, bass drum, and surrounding percussions where you will find a much more challenging matrix of pitches to apply rudiments to. Yes, rudiment pitch control is equally important to the snare, Djembe, and any other drums that has more than one, as again is “feel”. Point is the Djembe is no different than many other drums and perhaps simpler for some to apply rudiments to. The rudiments and snare became popular back in the 50’s with marching bands, later developed to the kit by big name drummers as Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, etc, and has become traditional to many drummers and drums across the world due to their effectiveness which can be seen by their history. Calling them “snare rudiments” is far outdated
Well, you're right that I don't know a great deal about snare. No I didn't know there were different pitches (though I was aware of rim shots). That doesn't change my point though, since this (presumably advanced) technique doesn't turn up in any of the rudiments. Slap/tone differentiation, however, is fundamental to traditional djembe. It's the first thing you learn. My point was that slap/tone is fundamental to djembe. Try playing paradiddles using combinations of slaps and tones and it increases the difficulty a lot. I simply meant that if you were developing rudiments for djembe they would surely have to include slap/tone differentiation.
Calling them “snare rudiments” is far outdated
Fair enough. What should we call them? Maybe 'stick rudiments' is more appropriate...

Incidentally I have no problem with fusion...I started off playing djembe with DJs in drum and bass and hard house clubs; I played djembe in a funk band for years and I'd love to create a kind of afrobeat based around dundun patterns but with a big brass section and a funky bassist!
By bkidd

From your posts, it seems like you're approaching this journey by asking what from the instrument/style that I know and love (and have gotten quite proficient at), namely drum kit, can I translate onto this new instrument that I'm getting to know and love, namely djembe. It sounds like you're having a great time trying out different techniques that you know from your musical background on the djembe and finding things that work for your personal drumming artistry. Best wishes on that path.

By djembeweaver
Rudiments are called “rudiments” since they apply to any drum
But I'm not sure that they do.

I've just done a bit of reading up (only 10 mins) and it seems the rudiments originated from Swiss military drumming, which then spread to other european countries where it was further developed over the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. This kind of drum and fife music spread all over europe and into the USA. There were several books published in the 19th century but the final list of 40 was arrived at in the early 20th century. In short the rudiments are the essential techniques required for mastery of a western style of stick drumming.

Similarly the western classical system of scales is a system that gives all the necessary tools to play in the western classical system, but Indian classical music contains scales that are outside of this system.

If you asked Mamady to draw up a list of the 40 most important djembe techniques he would no doubt include some of the rudiments. Other rudiments would not be included, but there would be many things that are not in the rudiments.

Hey, I've heard kit drummers do amazing things on a djembe using rudiments and I genuinely look forward to seeing your videos. I just think that it's an incomplete list I suppose (and very eurocentric)

BTW 'fusion' to me means 'the act of fusing'. I'm not enough into jazz to know about jazz fusion. Sorry if I misused another word!
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By e2c
TNT, you said that you're "reluctant" to study W. African-style djembe playing since the rudiments give you "all the tools [you] need."

I think that in saying that, you've (perhaps inadvertently) stated that Western rudiments don't, in fact, always apply to other types of drums and other styles of drumming.

No matter how hard you try, you cannot speak another language - Russian, say - while refusing to study and actually learn it.

The same applies here, and to pretty much all non-Western percussion styles/drums as well. They all have their own techniques and "languages." Sure, you can play Western drum kit-style riffs on most any of them (though likely not the drums that are common in India), but in doing so, you are refusing to learn the actual music of the cultures that developed and use these drums.

Whether you realize it or not, that is pretty much writing off the music that's been developed for those instruments *and* the people who have created it and play it.

Please, don't do that. I have seen a lot of other Americans coming up with their own phony "history" for the djembe (calling it a "sacred ritual drum"; never bothering to learn a single thing about the countries where it originated or the music played there) and it really bothers me. We - I include myself here! - Americans tend to act as if we can take anything from elsewhere and make it our own - in the process ignoring vast repertoires of music and ... the people who make it. In doing so, we are treating them as if they - and their music - don't matter.

imo, that is just plain wrong.

Now, I am not accusing you of anything - but I am asking you to stop and think and listen and watch... and learn.

Please realize that if I were to take up concert snare or drum set or timpani or vibes, well - I would *have* to learn proper technique in order to adequately play most of the music in both classical and popular styles. Sure, I could play solely with my hands, but that really doesn't work well *all* the time, does it?


Also, "jazz fusion" is different from "fusion" - as djembeweaver says, the latter can mean just about anything in terms of musical styles being blended, and other things, too. (Like "Asian fusion" cuisine.)
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By e2c
TNT - you know that this site is focused on W. African rhythms and technique.

So I'm not sure what you are attempting to say. I have no problem with you - or anyone else - playing rudiments on djembe.

As I suggested previously, stopping and listening and watching might be something you'd really enjoy and learn from.

Cool? :)

(fwiw, I play Arabic and Turkish percussion as well... and even though I *can* play Western rhythms on those instruments, I generally don't, as my focus is on learning to play what Arabs, Turks, Iranians and other Middle Eastern musicians play on their instruments. Even when they adapt Western rhythms to their instruments, they don't play them the same way that we do... they have a different feel, which is - imo - a valid thing. Even though I'm American, I don't think anyone should have to play American music exactly the way it's played here.)
Last edited by e2c on Fri Jul 27, 2012 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
By djembeweaver
And to think I started this thread to find out how to better put rudiments to the Djembe only to have turn it into a cultural nightmare, debate!
Aw...come on TNT don't be like that. I thought we were having an interesting discussion on the nature of rudiments and how applicable they are to different types of percussion. I've already learned something from this thread (I now know a bit more about rudiments than I did before) and I wasn't being sarcastic when I said I was looking forward to seeing your videos.

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