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Rudiments on Djembe - Page 4 - Djembefola - Djembe Forum

Discuss drumming technique here
User avatar
By Carl
Having at least one foot in each of the worlds being discussed (djembe and snare drum rudiments) I thought I'd chime in with some thoughts...

The rudiments developed out of marching snare drum technique, this influence the development of classical snare drum as well as drumset techniques. Since the rudiments are reductionist in nature, they can be applied to any stick drum (assuming both hands are playing the drum with sticks).

Rudiments can generally be devided into 4 sections (and mixtures of those sections)

1) Rolls - in most snare drum literature rolls are produced by a rapid series of "doubles" from each hand. ie: rrllrrllrrllrrll etc... the measurement of rolls comes from the number of individual hits (not sets of bounces) so a 5 stroke roll would look like this: rrllr, this could be a bit confusing as we sometimes refer to rolls by the number of hits a la Mamady et al. roll 5 = rlr l r

From this we could extrapilate to a set or roll rudiments for djembes:
roll 4
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roll 5
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roll 6
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Mahiri's group practices something like this from roll 4 to roll 12
This could get more detailed by having multiple interpretations of some of the rolls:
Alternative roll 6
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(think soko from Oulari's CD)

2) Flams - generally means the same for both styles.
The down side for snare drummers is that the djembe generally does not use many of the "standard" handing for flam patterns (more on that in #4 below) however, I find Swiss triplets VERY useful! When I learned the balakulandian lick (thanks Michi) I was seriously stumped because the handing that Mamady uses is NOT what a snare drummer would use (flam taps). This tripped me up for quite some time, I can only play this lick at slow to medium tempos because of the handing. Can't quite pull it off at real tempos. :-(

3) Roughs - roughs are usually 2 quick notes leading to a 3 note which is on a beat (or off beat) the point is that the first 2 notes are fast and not really "measured" but the 3rd not represents a subdivided beat or pulse. While roughs can be played single stroke, the same affect would be called "roll 3" in the theoretical application of the roll system mentioned above for djembe. Most roughs for snare drum would be played as a double on one hand for the quick notes, and the last hit being on the alternate hand.

Generally not useful as a separate concept for djembe. (IMHO)

4) The final group of snare drum rudiments are sticking patterns (paradidles) most of the more advanced rudiments are combinations of sticking patterns with flams and roughs (Drag Paradiddle, Ratamacue, swiss triplets... I could go on)

Since the traditional handing on the djembe does not really allow for "doubles" from the hands, none of these rudiments are practical for the traditional soloist. I have messed around with a few, and have used some to get out of tricky situations while improvising, but generally I do not find their application to the djembe of much use. the primary difficulty comes from not having the "bounce" advantage that stick players have. I spent literally years getting control of the bounce of stick (and mallets). All for naught on the djembe... on the dununs however.... :!:

There is a great book for drumset, "The drummer's complete vocabulary as taught by Alan Dawson". this is the official publication which contains Alan's "the ritual" which takes all of the rudiments (and some rudiments of his own making) and worked them into 4 bar phrases so they could be played like a solo. It is not a performance thing, but just something to work on that is a bit more interesting than playing each rudiment like 100 times....

TNT- if you are at all interested in drumset material, I can not recommend this book highly enough!
User avatar
By Waraba

OK, I see where a lot of mutual misunderstanding has been taking place. Tell me if I have this right:

You're saying, you are wary of learning traditional djembe drumming because that sounds like copying someone else's style--that it would inhibit creativity. My understanding of, and experience with traditional djembe is that it is actually quite liberating, and has corrollaries (sp?) with Western music. For example, many, many sounds can come from a violin, but if you can't make the basic tone from it, you will be limited.

With djembe, there are fundamentals, such as traditional sounds for tone & slap (& within these two sounds , there are also variations depending on drummer and region, see other threads; but let's just talk basic tone and slap for a moment); although there are billions of sounds that CAN be produced, only some sounds can actually project over the ensemble to be heard. So, although I can produce a large variety of sounds on my personal djembe, when playing with other drummers, I will not be, nor have I been heard. If I want to be heard, and if I want to blend well, I have to get those two traditional sounds (standard tone, standard slap). Non-traditional yet creative sounds will not blend with the music and will come across as unmusical in that context.

Are you with me so far? Let me know.
By bkidd

I think you've lost me in terms of what you want out of this thread and people from this community with regard to rudiments. Originally, I thought you were trying to apply rudiments from snare to djembe and see how much translated. This is your background and so you feel quite confident in rudiments and finding some interesting applications on the djembe. As you seen, a lot of people have responded to this inquiry. Everyone seems to agree that rudiments are useful in general for playing djembe. However, it's clearly debatable whether all 40 rudiments are used frequently enough in playing djembe to make them useful. From the posts, it's clear that you're defending the rudiments with as much passion as people who are making the case for why some might be less useful (remember everyone agrees that some sort of rudiments are useful). In the end, we only have a certain amount of time that we can dedicate to the djembe and I think everyone is trying to maximize their fun in playing while they focus on practice techniques that are relevant for whatever context they find themselves playing in most.

For myself, I regularly play for dance classes and occasionally play in an ensemble of other djembe and dunun drummers. The point here is that all of my playing is with a group where fitting in and providing a groove for a particular purpose takes precedence. There is still a great deal of room to improvise within this context, but there are also serious musical constraints. If I decided to go buck wild with my improvisation, it's likely to clash all over and could possibility tank the rhythm. This is really be in a dance class because it screws up the dancers experience and it's not fun in an ensemble because it tends to crush the groove and deflate everything.

My practice regiment consists of really focusing on sound, which means getting ultra clear distinction between tones and slaps (bass is easy, but requires work for different patterns and combinations) at any tempo, time signature, feeling, and with all types of combinations. In some sense, I would call sound distinction my rudiment. Having clear sound means that one has a voice on the djembe and can express a wide range of possibilities, which allows me to fit in clearly and be heard in all of the contexts where I enjoy drumming. There are so many combinations to work on and I'm always creating more possibilities, which means that I could spend a lifetime exploring sound.

As an echo of Waraba's post, I think that most everyone on djembefola is playing with a group in one way or another (drum class, performance ensemble, dance class, support/lead at festivals). In fact the group aspect of playing to support a cause (work, dance, ceremony) could be the strongest definition for what traditional djembe playing is.

User avatar
By michi
Thanks for posting the videos. One suggestion: if you play with the drum on a stand, set it a little lower. On impact, the extension of your line of your forearm should be on plane (more or less) with the face of the drum. I would also suggest to tilt the drum away from you a little. This allows you to play with less effort and avoids having to reach up to the drum.

I think you live in San Diego? If so, you have an excellent school right there: TTM San Diego

You might find it useful to go along to one of the classes. Quite possibly, there might be a lot of inspiration to be found there.


User avatar
By Waraba
If you are able to go to a TTM, jump at the chance.
User avatar
By michi
TNT wrote:I goggle hand drum rudiments and ran across this for the conga not a far cry from the djembe under this category and what was discussed in this thread(doubles, ruffs, pitches, bounce, etc) is in this article. I extracted some of it.
Conga technique is quite different from djembe technique. The double strikes, drags, and bounces in the drumkit rudiments don't translate well to traditional djembe, where double strikes are rarely used, and bounces (taps) are used only occasionally as part of a djembe kan (lit. "sound of the djembe", a solo performance).

Practicing these rudiments will still have benefits in terms of stamina, speed, rhythmic feeling, etc. But, for traditional playing, the double-strike, drag, and bounce techniques are not that important.


User avatar
By Dugafola
I can lead a horse to water but can’t make them drink
you said it bro!!
User avatar
By michi
TNT wrote:
michi wrote:Practicing these rudiments will still have benefits in terms of stamina, speed, rhythmic feeling, etc. But, for traditional playing, the double-strike, drag, and bounce techniques are not that important.
We have five conga latin players in our drum circle ranging from pro-recreational playing traditional not once have I seen them play a double, one of the pro’s whom has African roots(guy that gave me Nana’s card) is also very proficient at djembe and taken lessons from him.
In conga technique, doubles are actually much more common. That's because, for certain patterns, the same pitch note needs to be played repeatedly. If that note is on one of the drums left or right of the quinto, the same hand has to play that note and do a double strike, such as for the basic tumbao.

I briefly studied conga with a teacher, and I worked through the three books and DVDs by Thomas Cruz The Conga Method (which are excellent, by the way). These books are choc-a-bloc full of rudiments, classified into different levels of difficulty and working specific techniques, many of which include double strokes.
I got the opportunity to discuss rudiments with one of the more serious conga players last weekend, he explained that the others don’t practice rudiments which he said I need to respect as I now do. He and I have a background in rudiments and we understand each other, others do not that’s cool!
From reading Cruz's books and from talking to my conga teacher, I got the impression that rudiments are very much part of the traditional way to learn conga, even though the specific exercises differ from the rudiments for stick drums.
He and the djembe/conga player gave my first lesson in conga and only thing I could find different so far is the heal-toe hit the article found a way to apply rudiments to, which is very good since rudiments don’t normally teach stick/hand technique and are just a way to practice them as just one of the many benefits.
The heel-toe technique doesn't apply to traditional djembe playing (at least not in an ensemble) because it isn't loud enough, though you will occasionally hear it in djembe kan solos. (Mamady uses a heel-toe technique as well as a tap technique for basses in some of his solos, for example.)
So to say that, “Practicing these rudiments will still have benefits in terms of stamina, speed, rhythmic feeling, etc. But, for traditional playing, the double-strike, drag, and bounce techniques are not that important.” To me is inaccurate and contradicting itself.
Actually, that was a statement of fact rather than a statement of opinion. Double strikes, drags, and bounces simply are not used in traditional playing, period. That's just how it is.

It's the same thing as saying "Techniques that use mallets to play a guitar are not that important." That's a statement of fact too, even though it is possible to play a guitar with mallets and to get interesting effects that way.
Rudiments as the article says apply to all “hand and stick drums” and are the basic foundation to any beat.
Observation one: just because something is said in an article doesn't make it right :)

Observation two: I believe that rudiments are important for the djembe, and I give new rudiments to my students on a weekly basis. It's just that these rudiments are different from the ones for stick drums in many cases because the djembe uses a different playing technique.
If you don’t want to take my word for go to U-Tube search “Djembe Rudiments” you will find a lot showing how to apply everything from paradiddles, double strokes, ruffs, to the djembe. I found one from Expert Village on doubles (but I’m faster, ha!)…Sounds like he has developed a series for more of them check their website.
Yes, I am well familiar with the Expert Village videos on djembe. There was a thread on this topic a while back.

I take it you are talking about one of the two guys below?


Those guys are incompetent. They don't know the first thing about the djembe, and the only thing that can match their incompetence is their hubris.
As I said glad I’m on the right track. Good luck to the rest. I can lead a horse to water but can’t make them drink, ha!. Great thread anyway imho. :)
If those guys are indeed a source of information for you, you are on the wrong track. I strongly recommend to check out a class at TTM San Diego or with another competent teacher who knows something about djembe tradition. If nothing else, it will show you what is possible on the instrument.

Many years ago, I read a story about a master and his student. The student was diligently studying his instrument, applying himself to his teacher's exercises every day. One day, the student came up with something new, discovering a new technique. Excited about his discovery, he showed it to his master the following morning. The master listened intently and, when the student had finished, nodded and said "that is very, very good." The master then proceeded to clip the student around the ears, telling him "before you earn the right to do it wrong, you must master how to do it right."


User avatar
By gr3vans
oh lord... why do I keep reading this thread?
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