Discuss traditional rhythms, singing etc
By davidognomo
#23688
Rachel,

isn't it much more difficult to play the dununs (standing vertically) with those sticks? I mean rather than with regular straight sticks?

why do you use those instead of the straight ones? I mean, in the case of horizontally layed duns, I guess it's a matter of choice, taste and tradition. But in a vertical dununset, playing with those sticks seems to me to bring extra parameters to the playing technique.

I'm no expert, but there are things that I see these new dununset players that are so fast and virtuous that seem to me very hard to accomplish with those sticks.
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By michi
#23690
If never seen these sticks used on upright dunduns. They are meant for playing traditionally, with the dundun horizontal.

Cheers,

Michi.
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By rachelnguyen
#23692
Hi David and Michi,

I play with those sticks because that's how my teacher, Sidy, taught me, LOL. I have seen them used with ballet style when I was in Mali.... and the guy that made my dunun used them ballet style, too.

Since I have gotten used to them, it is much easier for me to play with them rather than straight sticks. And speed is not an issue. I have seen Malian dununfola play very very fast with those sticks.

If I were to play with straight sticks at this point, I would have to relearn how to hold them. The mutes, especially, would take some getting used to.

Around here, (RI) all the Malians play with these. Maybe it is an innovation!
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By rachelnguyen
#23693
Incidentally, when I am talking about curved sticks, I mean Jelidunun style. I borrowed a picture from Drumskull to show you. (Thanks guys!)

I have a video of Sidy Maiga playing ballet style dunun in 2003 when his troupe won 2nd in a national drumming competition in Bamako. He was using the Jeli sticks.

You can get these here.
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By e2c
#23699
davidognomo wrote:Rachel,

isn't it much more difficult to play the dununs (standing vertically) with those sticks? I mean rather than with regular straight sticks?

why do you use those instead of the straight ones? I mean, in the case of horizontally layed duns, I guess it's a matter of choice, taste and tradition. But in a vertical dununset, playing with those sticks seems to me to bring extra parameters to the playing technique.

I'm no expert, but there are things that I see these new dununset players that are so fast and virtuous that seem to me very hard to accomplish with those sticks.
I have found them to be much, much easier to use when playing ballet-style duns than the straight sticks - like Rachel.

I think it's actually easier to do complex patterns, since the sticks are so light... and they do wear down a bit on whatever edge (or side) you use to make a "press" note. Basically, all the stick does for a press is to touch the drumhead - no real pressure necessary.

And, as Daniel has said, they are used in parts of Guinea as well.

Also - it's very easy to shave off a bit of the stick (with a knife) if you want a slimmer grip.
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By michi
#23703
rachelnguyen wrote:I play with those sticks because that's how my teacher, Sidy, taught me, LOL. I have seen them used with ballet style when I was in Mali.... and the guy that made my dunun used them ballet style, too.
Ah, interesting, I hadn't come across that before.

I would have thought that it would be difficult to play loudly with those sticks though. The light weight would make it hard to get good volume out of a dunun. But I guess that applies to dununs with cow skin only—for dununs with goat skin, I expect those sticks would work fine. And the lower weight also would make it easier to play very fast.

Cheers,

Michi.
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By michi
#23707
e2c wrote:michi, I think you need to try a few of these palm sticks. That'll clarify things re. volume and all the rest. :)
Well, I've played them in past, but only on a traditional konkoni. Never tried on upright dununs with heavy cow skin.

I doubt that these light-weight sticks would work all the well for those, except at low volume. I know that, for my dununs, when I want volume, I have to grab heavier sticks, especially for the dundunba, which has a thick cow skin on it.

Cheers,

Michi.
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By e2c
#23708
As long as the drumheads are broken in, they work just fine. But the tonal colors they create are different than those that are common with straight sticks.

(come to think of it, my kenkeni isn't all that broken in and these sticks sound fine on it - so I should partly rescind my opening comment in this post!)

The thing is, these sticks handle very differently than straight sticks - my guess is that *not* needing to hit hard is one of the goals, but hey, I could be wrong! :)

... here's the thing: the heads of the sticks are larger (i.e., cover more area) than those of straight sticks. so you need less force for louder volume. The palm sticks will snap right up from a taut head - the drumset folks refer to that as natural rebound, and it's a lot less tiring to use the momentum and design of these sticks than (imo) straight sticks.

Like I said earlier, I don't think it'll make sense 'til you actually try it, and even then, allow some time for adjusting to a different playing technique.

fwiw, i sometimes play with jelidunun sticks on ballet-style duns (at home, not in performance) and although they are heavy, they are far better for presses than straight sticks (again, imo).
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By rachelnguyen
#23715
Hi Michi,

LOL, we are going to make a believer out of you yet! My drums are cowskin and I got them brand new in Mali last year and have been playing them with the konkoni sticks ever since. Trust me, volume is not a problem! The drums have broken in beautifully over the last year. I find the konkoni sticks have a really lovely, mellow sound. I have tried regular hardwood sticks and find the sound a little more harsh.

The thing is that the sticks, though very light weight, are also extremely strong because you are hitting the little hammer into the handle when you play, so you are constantly reinforcing the joint. As I said, I have never personally broken one. So you can really pound on them and the fibers are hitting the skin perpendicularly. As e2c said, you actually have more surface connection.

Cheers back at you!
By bkidd
#23722
Hi e2c and Rachel,

When I play traditional style (individual dunun and oriented horizontal), I've always used different sized sticks that correspond to the drumhead diameter. Having a bigger stick for the dununba seemed to make it easier to create booming, yet deep sound, which I really like, while having a small diameter stick (typical drumset stick) for the kenkeni gives a bright response. Using this approach of having the stick and drumhead diameter be roughly proportional makes a difference (it sounds weak to play a dununba with a typical drumset stick). This strategy has usually worked well and did not feel overly effortful, however, I've never played for 30+ minute stretches at rockin tempos so maybe I would be sorry. Technique and stamina aside, it sounds like you two are both saying that these Mali-style sicks produce good sound regardless of what drum your using. Or do you also use slightly different thickness (and therefore mass) for the sticks?

My initial playing with the balsa-like wood sticks that were discussed was mixed. I'll have to try experimenting more with these.

Best,
-Brian
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By rachelnguyen
#23724
Hi Brian,

I would say that your technique of playing with different sized sticks makes perfect sense. The bottom line is that you are looking for a nice distinction between the drums.

My sticks are more or less the same size. (Since they are handmade, they do vary, of course, but it isn't significant.) My drums are tuned to each other by the builder, so I can use the same sized sticks and still get distinctive sounds from each.

I would certainly suggest that you try playing for a half hour at a good pace to see how your muscles react. I tried playing with my Jelidunun stick this morning for the dununba and after only a few minutes, the difference in weight made itself known to my shoulder muscles!
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By michi
#23727
OK, sounds like I'll have to become a convert. I'll have a look for those sticks when I'm in Guinea. Anyone know whether I might find them there?

Cheers,

Michi.
By bkidd
#23728
Hi Rachel,

I just tried to play a couple different patterns with different sticks and have a couple findings to report.

First, the repetitive bell pattern really tires my left forearm after 5-10 minutes depending on the pattern. I also noticed that my bell strikes are not completely consistent, the most predictable difference is that I give a little more effort into the strike when the striker hits the bell at the same time as the stick hits the drum head. Second, having to switch between press and open hits creates muscle fatigue much sooner than playing the same pattern with a stick of different mass. I'm probably adding extraneous motions when I press, not to mention that I adjust my arm to compensate for the different technique, so this is definitely something to pay more attention to.

Best,
-Brian