Advice and questions on keeping your instruments in top form
By cobra
#30579
Just got my hands on a set of dunun, and I have several questions some of you djembefolk can probably answer.

How do you know when a dunun needs tuning?

Is there a particular range that the set should be tuned to?

How is the set tuned in relation to each other?

What would be a fair fee to pay someone to do the tuning (USA)?

Thanks in advance for sharing your expertise,
cobra
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By michi
#30580
You know it they need tuning when you don't like the sound/chords they make :-)

No particular range for dunun. Just tune to something that makes a distinct interval between the three drums and that sounds pleasant to your ears, with good differentiation between the three pitches. Some people insist that the kenkeni should be an octave above the dununba or some such, but most dunun don't adhere to that (or any other rule).

How much to pay for tuning depends on how much they are out of tune and whether the existing weave needs to be undone and the verticals retightened before tuning again. Anything between $20 and $60 is probably reasonable.

Cheers,

Michi.
By Kaitaro
#30596
I asked the same question to Mohamed Bangoura once, and he said B D E. This has puzzled me ever since. I guess I understand B and D but why E on Dununba??? Must be a full octave lower than Sangban D but they will be dissonant. Any clues? Thanks for asking this question.
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By drtom
#30597
My knowledge on this topic is very limited. Until now, I've done as Michi suggests and tuned these drums to suit my ear. I would expect, however, that some convention is in the process of being established or has been established by now. After all, since they function as the backbone of the djembe, one would certainly expect them to complement the djembe. At the very least, there must be limitations, if not hard rules.

This conversation may become quite involved. What's practiced in Ghana might dissonate in Mali. Conventions (assuming they exist) may vary village to village. It would be great if we could at least begin to get a handle on what the general consensus is.

I would really welcome further input. Even pure conjecture can offer insight. Any thoughts on B, D and E?

drtom
By davidognomo
#30599
The artist that I hear giving greater importance to tonal relation between dunduns is Famoudou. I think that you could listen to some of his albums and check if the intervals between the 3 duns are always the same, but I'm guessing it won't be. You can also check it in other artists' albums. If you have difficulties guessing the intervals on a specific track, you can always ask for help here.
By Paul
#30606
Well if pure speculation is what you want!! I have only played with one person who really thought about the sound of the overall ensemble and told people to tune down djembes etc.. They were also a conga/guitar/piano player. Must say their dununs always sounded very nice.

So coming from a kamele n'goni perspective which would correspond to balafon I have been mainly using 2 tunings over the last few years.

A westernised version of their pentatonic scale G E D C A played this a lot with a conga player so this might help http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKTEkFd2Rpw though I don't know how well that would translate into dunun

And more recently a wassalon tuning A F# E D B which contains the notes you mentioned.
Kaitaro wrote: I guess I understand B and D but why E on Dununba???
Are you sure he meant kenkeni, sanban, dununba?

As I said pure specualtion
By bubudi
#30615
i'm not sure of the relevance of keeping to a scale with percussion music. bands, orchestras and ensembles (in both the east and west) will change key for different songs without retuning the drums or other percussion instruments.

there are, however, dissonant tunings. for instance, tune two drums to between a quartertone to a semitone of each other, and you'll hear some intetesting vibrations (this is utilised in gammelan music from indonesia), which do not sound pleasant in this application.

you do need good differentiation between all the drums in the ensemble. no point having all the djembes tuned to within an inch of their lives. if a kenkeni falls in pitch too close to the sangban's pitch, for instance, the ovetall sound and dynamics will suffer.

i have a friend that swears by fourths, and if you want to fiddle around for a couple of hours like he does, i can attest that this approach will yield a nice effect.
User avatar
By drtom
#30621
bubudi wrote:i'm not sure of the relevance of keeping to a scale with percussion music. bands, orchestras and ensembles (in both the east and west) will change key for different songs without retuning the drums or other percussion instruments.

there are, however, dissonant tunings. for instance, tune two drums to between a quartertone to a semitone of each other, and you'll hear some intetesting vibrations (this is utilised in gammelan music from indonesia), which do not sound pleasant in this application.

you do need good differentiation between all the drums in the ensemble. no point having all the djembes tuned to within an inch of their lives. if a kenkeni falls in pitch too close to the sangban's pitch, for instance, the ovetall sound and dynamics will suffer.
So we agree that, at the very least, there are limitations.

drtom
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By michi
#30622
drtom wrote:So we agree that, at the very least, there are limitations.
Well, yes, if it sounds awful, it needs changing :)

But, to the best of my knowledge, there is no fixed or preferred interval. Basically, if it sounds nice, it's fine.

Michi.
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By drtom
#30635
michi wrote:
drtom wrote:So we agree that, at the very least, there are limitations.
Well, yes, if it sounds awful, it needs changing :)
Most of us will probably agree with you - in general - but many of us will differ on what "sounds awful". Bubudi refers to "dissonant tunings" commonly used in gamelan music.

Music is enjoyed or disliked from an absolutely subjective perspective, but when the instrument of music is in the plural, consonance is achieved by objective agreement, be it spelled out or intuitively understood (don't get me started on the collective unconscious ;)).

I'd just like to get a feel for what that agreement may be.

drtom
By cobra
#30636
bubudi wrote:i have a friend that swears by fourths, and if you want to fiddle around for a couple of hours like he does, i can attest that this approach will yield a nice effect.
Are you saying that the interval should be a fourth (whatever that means)?

cobra
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By michi
#30641
drtom wrote:I'd just like to get a feel for what that agreement may be.
I've heard dunun that had a major chord (sangban a major third above dundunba, and kenkeni a major fifth above dundunba). Kenkeni a seventh or an octave above the dundunba sounds nice too.

There would be quite a few other tunings that sounds nice. Just don't make it a tritone, or you might be in trouble with the church ;-)

Michi.
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By drtom
#30673
michi wrote: There would be quite a few other tunings that sounds nice. Just don't make it a tritone, or you might be in trouble with the church ;-)Michi.
Way cool reference Michi! Definitely going in my bag of tricks.

(Off-topic suggestion: keep your visitors on site by simply adding target="_blank" to the anchor tag)

drtom
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By michi
#30690
drtom wrote:(Off-topic suggestion: keep your visitors on site by simply adding target="_blank" to the anchor tag)
I think the forum software would have to do this. Or is there a way to add this to the normal URL markup?

Michi.
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By drtom
#30756
michi wrote: I think the forum software would have to do this. Or is there a way to add this to the normal URL markup?
I haven't experimented much myself. Don't know to what extent this forum will recognize html tags and such. Like I said, off topic. Probably a job for the webmaster.

drtom