Advice and questions on keeping your instruments in top form
User avatar
By djembefeeling
#34985
hi folks,

for a year or so I I have this idea that when you try to do your best on tones and slaps, you've got to go with the sound of your djembe. by this I mean that you can't force your personal preference of a sound on a djembe but rather should listen to where the djembe responds to what you do best, where it resonates the best. that would be sound of a djembe.

but then yesterday I heard myself saying to a student of mine interested in a djembe and praising the sound of my own djembe that she has to be patient with whatever djembe she buys. it'll season and has to be leveled for some time until it develops it's sound. you know, the best djembes of a batch is gone rather quick and then there are always some djembes that sound kind of nasty. but I put them in a rack where it's skin can resonate to our drumming and then, marvelously, after a year or so it sounds at least o.k. but that's not the point. I've heard myself saying that the djembe will tune itself to her hands, and that is the reason why masterdrummers don't like other people to play on their djembe, cause it is tuned to their hands.

I don't know where this idea all of a sudden came from, but it popped out of mouth so naturally. now, looking at it, it seems to be in utter conflict with my other theory. but then again, it doesn't. do you get what I mean? since I am still a bit confused...

best, jürgen
User avatar
By michi
#34988
I don't think the djembe "adjusts itself" in any way, other than that an aged skin can sound better than a new one.

What really happens, I suspect, is that the player makes minute and subconscious adjustments in technique that result in better pronunciation, projection, etc.

I've always said "it's the player, not the drum", except for maybe the first six months of drumming, when I was still deluding myself that that I was doing everything alright and the drum was to blame… ;)

Michi.
User avatar
By djembefeeling
#34990
Of course, the first and most important thing is the technique. But don't you think a skin can change it's structure due to the frequencies that are induced on it? first by sympathetic vibration, but more important by the typical frequencies a personal style is inducing over and over on the skin??
User avatar
By michi
#34992
Hmmm… I'm very skeptical about this idea. It sounds a lot like "water has memory." It doesn't.

Cheers,

Michi.
By davidognomo
#35020
michi wrote:It sounds a lot like "water has memory."


:rofl:

hey, guys. I believe that a skin with months of one drummer's hands' beating will develop some kind of specific wear pattern, but that's it. If Mamady Keita comes and plays a bit on my six month skin, you will hear Mamady's sound. You will hear that djembe's sound, but played by a specific pair of hands. From my friends, I can acknowledge each one of them binging out different aspects that are potential in one djembe. I can also acknowledge the sound of the djembe, the sound from the skin that's mounted. You will adjust to each djembe's aspects, but mostly derived from the drum's diameter and the bowl's curve and size of the hole, wich will dictate each sound's playing area on the skin, but for minimal displacements.

Sometimes you get kind of lyrical, Jurgen, on your interpretations, if I may say so. Cheers
User avatar
By djembefeeling
#35021
davidognomo wrote:Sometimes you get kind of lyrical, Jurgen, on your interpretations, if I may say so.
You may. I guess philosophy wasn't that much of a strict science. I'm used to some "creative" thought process. that's why I like to check. thanks for the feedback!
User avatar
By drtom
#35027
djembefeeling wrote:hi folks,

for a year or so I I have this idea that when you try to do your best on tones and slaps, you've got to go with the sound of your djembe. by this I mean that you can't force your personal preference of a sound on a djembe but rather should listen to where the djembe responds to what you do best, where it resonates the best. that would be sound of a djembe.
I couldn't agree with you more. A drummer must know his/her drum. It's tone, timbre, range, strengths and limits. Few of us would try to play lead with a dundunba.
but then yesterday I heard myself saying to a student of mine interested in a djembe and praising the sound of my own djembe that she has to be patient with whatever djembe she buys. it'll season and has to be leveled for some time until it develops it's sound. you know, the best djembes of a batch is gone rather quick and then there are always some djembes that sound kind of nasty. but I put them in a rack where it's skin can resonate to our drumming and then, marvelously, after a year or so it sounds at least o.k. but that's not the point. I've heard myself saying that the djembe will tune itself to her hands
I couldn't agree with you more. A drum will adust to its drummer as much as a shoe will adjust to its foot. Life is lyrical, so in my book lyrical interpretations are perfectly valid.
I don't know where this idea all of a sudden came from, but it popped out of mouth so naturally. now, looking at it, it seems to be in utter conflict with my other theory. but then again, it doesn't. do you get what I mean? since I am still a bit confused...

best, jürgen
I know exactly what you mean. It's a paradox like countless other paradoxes that confront us day to day. So many and so often that we scarecely notice them any more. Until we stop to think about them. I sometimes think they're there to remind us that life itself is a paradox, an illusion that will fall apart at the drop of a hat. I don't know. I'm a bit confused.

drtom

PS
and that is the reason why masterdrummers don't like other people to play on their djembe, cause it is tuned to their hands.
OK, here you may have stretched it a bit. While we (you included) can't know why master drummers don't like other people to play their drums unless we ask them, my guess would be they just don't trust others with their precious drums.
User avatar
By djembefeeling
#35029
drtom wrote:I couldn't agree with you more.
:hug:
drtom wrote:. A drum will adust to its drummer as much as a shoe will adjust to its foot.
strangely, that's what I thought of as a metaphor as well these days...
...and I thought of metals changing microstructure due to magnetism or electricity. but then, can dead organic skin change its microstructure due to sound? hard to believe. on the other hand, why do my bad ass djembes sound so good after a year of sympatheic vibration??
drtom wrote:OK, here you may have stretched it a bit.
Yeah, thought so too, these last couple of days. The reason in Bamako, as Rainer Polak wrote, was more that they feared black magic and witchcraft by others and that their mojo or lucky charm will be ruined when others play their drum...
drtom wrote:life itself is a paradox, an illusion that will fall apart at the drop of a hat.
I couldn't agree with you more. ;)
Last edited by djembefeeling on Thu Aug 21, 2014 6:21 am, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
By michi
#35030
Hmmm… I'm rather skeptical.

Which hypothesis is simpler? That the drum somehow changes properties due to being played by only one person, or that the person over the years intuitively learns how to extract optimum sound from the drum?

I know that I can make my djembe sound better than almost anyone, except for true masters. Is that because my drum knows me so well, or because I know my drum so well? My money is on the latter…

Michi.
User avatar
By djembefeeling
#35031
michi wrote:Which hypothesis is simpler? That the drum somehow changes properties due to being played by only one person, or that the person over the years intuitively learns how to extract optimum sound from the drum?
I know that I can make my djembe sound better than almost anyone, except for true masters. Is that because my drum knows me so well, or because I know my drum so well? My money is on the latter…
Ockham would love you. But it mustn't be mutually exclusive. My adaption to the djembe is definetely the bigger part than vice versa (if there is any. and of cause my drum doesn't know me).
User avatar
By michi
#35035
djembefeeling wrote:Ockham would love you.
It's an engineering thing, sorry ;)
But it mustn't be mutually exclusive. My adaption to the djembe is definetely the bigger part than vice versa (if there is any. and of cause my drum doesn't know me).
Every now and then, I end up with a "dead" skin that sounds decidedly average. But, at least for some of those dead skins, they come good after a while. Three months later, I say, quite surprised "well, it actually sounds quite good now."

What's happening here? Two things: I've changed my technique in subtle ways to strike the dead skin such that it sounds better. And the skin has changed because of all that playing.

I'm not denying that a skin can improve as it is being played. But I very much doubt that it would make any difference whether it is me who does the playing or you. Either way, that skin will sound better after the same amount of playing.

Cheers,

Michi.
By davidognomo
#35046
@drtom, lyrical is not the opposite of valid. As for a drum adapting or adjusting to a drummer, I can only see the skin suffering such adjustment. But, as I said, a different drummer can make my djembe sound better than I can, even if the skin has adquired a specific wear pattern and way of setteling in.
But I agree that the skin adquires a personal print from being played always by the same drummer. A bit like cars-people say that it's bad for a car to be driven by several drivers.
User avatar
By drtom
#35048
davidognomo wrote:lyrical is not the opposite of valid
Spoken like a true thespian. I obviously agree, though I realize that I can be more lyrical than I intend when I'm trying to get my point across.

Still, given the choice of a world of limitation and a world of possiblilities, I'll take the possibilities, even as I understand that some people need limitations in order to make sense of their world.

Here's the thing - the two worlds need not be "mutually exclusive" (well spoken!). Why couldn't they coexist and perhaps be as interdependent as the poles of a magnet?

drtom