Discuss drumming technique here
By R00STER
#35003
Usually when you hear/read a description of how to play a slap, the word “fingertips” is used. Usually even when it’s illustrated it looks like the hand is perfectly curved and just the tips are touching the head on impact. Would you say that is reality or when your hand makes contact, are the fingers somewhat flatter with pretty much the entire first section of finger (from first joint to tip) touching the skin?

Also, it appears when I see good players that it’s the pinky, ring, and middle fingers doing most of the work. Even though the hand stays in pretty much the same place as when doing a tone, it seems like the fingers closer to the pinky are leading the way on a slap. Would you say that is accurate?
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By djembefeeling
#35005
just try a lot a listen to what sound you make and what you like. As for me, I let my middle and index finger lead the way. but it's not the entire first section of the fingers. I do have my callus right above the inner circle of the fingermark lines. the technique you describe for the slap with the fingers close to the pinky reminds me on the discussion for the third slap, the so-called tonpalon.
Anyway, just try not to focus on the fingers while you hit the drum but, rather, how you hit the rim with your hand.
By R00STER
#35007
djembefeeling wrote:Anyway, just try not to focus on the fingers while you hit the drum but, rather, how you hit the rim with your hand.
Can you elaborate on this part?

Also, I didn't want to confuse this topic by discussing tones but do you also hit the rim with the fleshy part of your hand when doing tones? That seems to be what I see people do but then I hear other drummers describe the motion as being like a handclapping motion which seems to imply you come in "flatter" (if that makes sense).
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By djembefeeling
#35009
R00STER wrote:Can you elaborate on this part?
Not easy for me to do so, especially in English...
The skin of the djembe is a membrane that swings -- some of the frequencies a couple of hundred times within a second. when you hit the djembe deliberately with your fingers, I think you last longer on the membrane and kill more waves of the swing, while you last not as long on the membrane when you see it as a trampoline and flip with the tips of your fingers from the base of your hand on the rim onto the skin. does that make sense?

with tones, it's the same for me -- with some adjustments, of course. I do come in "flatter", trying to be just right above the skin, say 1-3 milimeters, from tip to the base equidistant. the base of my hand is in an angle of, say, 70 degrees, to my fingers and I try to hold the tension and bring the power on the djembe just through the lower part of my arm. with the slap, I try to bring in some additional power from some flapping of my relaxed hand.

since the high frquencies of the slap carry on more decibel than the lower ones of the tones, I try to hit the tones harder in order to get the balance of dynamics right. with the fingers coming in flat on the skin from the base of your hand, I focus first on a dynamic "plop" sound of the tone. when I got it, I try to cancel as much of the high frequencies as I can. I think this is one of the secrets of good sounds with Africans, that they get their balance right. In our culture of languages, everything important is said with high pitch, everything calm is in low pitch. so, whenever a "white bread" plays solo at the height of the fighting, almost only slaps are played. I heard a lot of Africans saying that white people do not get the tone right. to counter that, I practice the tone more than I do the slap. the tone is supposed to be the basic sound of the djembe anyway.
By davidognomo
#35019
I let my middle and index finger lead the way. but it's not the entire first section of the fingers. I do have my callus right above the inner circle of the fingermark lines. the technique you describe for the slap with the fingers close to the pinky reminds me on the discussion for the third slap


Agreed.

Rooster, the secret for good slaps and tones is practice. Practice and patience. Find a place where you can do as much noise as you like and practice alone. Find people to play with, djembe and dununs, find a teacher, a good teacher, classes are priceless.

I hear people talking about putting the fingers together for tones, but then I see great djembefolas playing slaps and tones with the fingers spread, like Laurent Camara or Fara Tolno.

Bottom line, you won't discover your sound on a written or spoken explanation. On my journey with sound evolution, I've had some key moments from something that someone would tell me, or from something I would see, or even from a playing session, from a physical sensation while playing. The quality of your slaps and tones will never be where you want it, it will never be enough.
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By ternarizator
#35069
MK says that to begin with tones you have to put your fingers together, and to let them spread slightly for slaps. Then with a lot of practice you'll only have to think "tone" or "slap" and your hand will do it without having to change anything.
Did you hear how FK has a good tone ? It is even more loud than his slaps. Sometimes, I try to listen to his chauffes focusing only on tones and it's just fabulous and extremely motivating !

Vincent.
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By djembefeeling
#35089
ternarizator wrote:MK says that to begin with tones you have to put your fingers together, and to let them spread slightly for slaps. Then with a lot of practice you'll only have to think "tone" or "slap" and your hand will do it without having to change anything.
right! good advice. forgot to mention that.
ternarizator wrote:Did you hear how FK has a good tone ? It is even more loud than his slaps. Sometimes, I try to listen to his chauffes focusing only on tones and it's just fabulous and extremely motivating !
again, right! he can play a simple beat solo and your jaws just drop...
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By boromir76
#35879
Also, it appears when I see good players that it’s the pinky, ring, and middle fingers doing most of the work. Even though the hand stays in pretty much the same place as when doing a tone, it seems like the fingers closer to the pinky are leading the way on a slap. Would you say that is accurate?
I think the most important fingers who do the most of the work when playing tone or slap are in fact index, ring and middle finger becaouse of simple reason: They are the longest and heaviest fingers. Longer fingers gain much more speed and momentum when striking slap, than short and light pinky. God forbids of ever happening to anyone, but I guess one would probably still be able to produce good sounds on djembe without one or both pinky fingers, while it would be much,..much harder to do it without one of the three "main fingers"...
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By michi
#35891
Different players have different styles. My personal style is to try and give equal weight to all fingers. In practice, I think the little finger does a little less work simply because it's smaller and lighter than the others. Mamady teaches to use all fingers equally, and to keep the wrist in the same position for tones and slaps.

Some players emphasise middle, ring, and little finger. They usually also turn the wrist in somewhat to play a slap. (Babara Bangoura uses this style.)

A slight turn-in is also used to change the pitch of the slap. Slaps with the fingertips closer to the center of the drum tend to bring out the higher harmonics more, and slaps with the wrist turned in ever so slightly drift more towards a tonpalo. (To play a true tonpalo, all players I have watched doing it do turn their wrists in quite a bit and, in addition, reduce the contact area by playing with effectively two fingers.)

Seeing that both Mamady and Babara are phenomenal players, I don't think there is a question of right or wrong here, more one of style. My personal preference is Mamady's style though. The theory being that, the less extraneous movement there is, the faster and the more efficient I'll be.

Cheers,

Michi.
By djembeweaver
#35894
This is my take on technique. The link takes you to a free lesson on my website and has three videos plus a written explanation of how I achieve the sounds.

http://djembeweaver.com/?page_id=1107

At the end of the day, though, technique is a personal journey and you need to discover your own technique.

In terms of right and wrong it only boils down to two things: 1) The quality of the sound and 2) Whether or not you are hurting you hands. If you are getting the right sounds and not hurting your hands then your technique is right, regardless of whether or not you are doing it in the same way as Mamady or Famoudou.

Jon