Discuss drumming technique here
#34092
I searched the forum for and questions about sore knuckles and I am surprised that it has not come up so it goes. I have been working on my technique and I'm making good progress on my slaps and tones as far as the sound goes. When making contact with the drum the my index finger knuckle, middle knuckle and ring finger knuckle are making contact with the bearing edge with my pinky finger knuckle landing just outside. All three knuckles are sore after playing (not incredibly sore maybe just slightly bruised?) and I'm a little concerned. Should I alter my technique or does the soreness just go away with more time playing?
#34094
Hi Jeremy.

What you describe is quite normal. As your technique improves (that part of your hand should land on, but not bang, the bearing edge of the drum) you will eventually stop hurting your hands. Furthermore all good djembe players have big callouses on this part of their hands and that takes time.

Ideally you should not be bruising or hurting your hands (though even very good djembefolas have slightly sore hands after many hours of playing!)

Jon
#34101
jeremyjenks wrote:I searched the forum for and questions about sore knuckles and I am surprised that it has not come up so it goes. I have been working on my technique and I'm making good progress on my slaps and tones as far as the sound goes. When making contact with the drum the my index finger knuckle, middle knuckle and ring finger knuckle are making contact with the bearing edge with my pinky finger knuckle landing just outside. All three knuckles are sore after playing (not incredibly sore maybe just slightly bruised?) and I'm a little concerned. Should I alter my technique or does the soreness just go away with more time playing?
Props to what was already said. Ditto. But listen--this is very important. Get your knuckles off the bearing edge and over the skin. I don't know which knuckles in particular you are talking about but I keep my main knuckles--the ones that connect the fingers to the hand/whatever they're called--over the bearing edge. I feel the bearing edge in the crease of my palm. I'm getting good tone and slap with this technique and experiencing virtually NO joint pain at all. I'm aware that you can pull those knuckles back so they're over the bearing edge not past it--lots of people do this and it makes no difference in itself. But sore knuckles are an indication something's wrong and soon you're going to experience symptoms of arthritis when your hands are at rest, and it's miserable.

Where are you by the way, and who are you studying with?
#34105
Check out this video with Mamady. Note that, for tone and slap, the joints at the base of your fingers are inside the drum, not on top of the bearing edge.

Many people make the mistake of play too far out, with only the fingers contacting the skin and the joints at the base of the fingers (or the edge of the palm, if you prefer) either on top of or just outside the bearing edge. Mamady insists that, for tone and slap, those joints must be inside the skin.

Michi.

#34110
Hi,

Hand position is a deep topic, as it may lead us very far beyond sore knuckles, but 'I'll try to stay focused on this aspect.

According to Sega Sidibe, the positions showed in the Mamady Keita video is a ballet evolution.
Ballets dramatically changed the nature of djembe drumming (well, it's hard to stay focused... :) ), by transforming collective events, lasting for hours, into a performance, designed to fit the western theatre standards. Pieces were created, favoring spectacular effects, as a kind of competition between the different ballets occured straight away.

These evolutions can be summarized as playing faster, louder, and introducing arrangements, choregraphy and orchestration.
To be able to play faster, the shifting of hand position traditionally used to obtain the sounds became a handicap, and that's why the hand position evolved - in the ballets.

You cannot get the "old" slap sound of malian traditional drumming (I never went to Guinea) without advancing your hand about one inch. You cannot displace your hand properly while playing if you turn it inward like shown on the video; it's a whole different technique.

You can see it in this Sega Cisse video playing Sugu (Suku), it's especially obvious in the end, when he plays the chauffe.
Sega Sidibe is from Wasulun (south of Mali) and I think Sega Cisse is from Fuladugu (northwest of Bamako), it's not an individual or regional particularity.

EDIT: The video cannot be displayed

The bamanan name of the sounds validate this: Duguma kan, Sanfe kan, Cemance kan.
People often misunderstand these names because they think they refer to the pitch, while they simply describe the hand position:
- duguma kan could be translated as bottom, lower, on the ground - sound. => the bass
- cemance kan: the middle sound => the slap
- sanfe kan: the upper sound => the tone

Back to the topic: Here are my 2c advices. It's not anormal to feel pain when beginning, a single bad beating can be enough to hurt your hand.
But, don't abuse the djembe. Learn to play clear sounds relaxed, without strength, with good hand positions, You will preserve your hands, your ears, and the music.
I've seen many drummers having to stop playing for a while to heal their hands, I've seen many drummers with ear troubles (using ear protection is not a solution, because You will keep playing uselessly loud, and people who come to hear You play, generally indoor, won't necessarily have ear protections - especially the children).
I've seen many drummers with kind of soles in their hands, but look at Mamady Keita's hands, Sega Sidibe's hands, they have no such things.
Last edited by JSB on Tue May 13, 2014 11:48 am, edited 3 times in total.
#34111
Thanks Waraba. I think you responded to my other thread saying you have longer hands playing on a 13 inch drum. So if your knuckles (I'm talking about the area directly under your top knuckles, like the ones you would punch something with) are over the bearing edge how do you keep a good sounding tone? I have experimented with doing this (moving my hand inside the skin so that the crease of my palm contacts the bearing edge) and I can get a good slap, but my tone seems to disappear into more of a base like sound.

Thanks Michi. Point taken! I have made the mistake of playing with just my fingers on the drum and have been told to move my hand further inside the drum, which I did, but it sounds like I have to move In even further. As I told Waraba, I have bigger hands and I have a challenge with making a good tone sound when my hand is that far inside the drum. One observation: It seems in the video that Mamady's index finger knuckle is on the bearing edge and the rest are inside with his hand turned in. I take it that this is because he is playing someone else's drum standing from the side?
Last edited by jeremyjenks on Tue May 13, 2014 11:37 am, edited 2 times in total.
#34113
Hi Jeremy,

I think you are right about playing a tone ("sanfe kan"): For me it's also impossible to play a good tone wit my hand so far on the skin. The above stories about the slap I can agree with. I'm practicing a slap like described in JSB's post, the 'old' way. Like Sega Sidibe. It's crispier and more sound full then the 'ballet' slap, in my opinion.

For a good tone technique: there's a nice explanation on how to create a nice tone in this 'technique' section, called 'simple but effective tone exercise' by djembeweaver. Have fun!
#34114
Wow what a great thread to read this morning! I experienced some pain mainly on the fifth knuckle when I was beginning to get my sounds. I think I was tilting my hand a bit toward that pinky fifth finger side. What I noticed is that my hands naturally didn't want to experience pain when playing so my technique has evolved a bit without conscious thought about changing how I'm hitting the drum .... Either way, I'm brand new at this so here I am.
#34153
Just to add one thing about the different hand positions to get slap and tone sounds: I haven't met Mansa Camio so far, but someone used to pay attention to this thing can clearly see on the different films, the same movement that I described, so it's not a malian specificity.
I would be interested to hear people who met him, on this matter.