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bougarabou - Djembefola - Djembe Forum

Other west African instruments, like balafon, ngoni etc.
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By Bingi_chile

Is there a bougaraboufola in the house? I understand it sounds similar to the conga. Can anyone describe the technique used to play bougarabou?
By Onetreedrums
Why yes ... some generous soul just uploaded an amazing look at authentic, traditional bougarabou playing on YouTube, check it out:

I'll be uploading some excellent bougarbous carved in Mali (lenke wood, with hand-sewn cow skin - traditionally, the skins are attached with a peg system similar to sabar) on my site tomorrow.

User avatar
By dleufer
Has anyone tried mixing bougs with djembes? Not traditional I know but we use them sometimes when duns are unavailable. Not necessarily to play dunun parts on but just to play bassey rhythms. They really complement the djembes and add a layer of warm sound underneath. Haven´t tried cranking mine up high yet but if the skin ever breaks I´ll put heavy duty rope on and crank it up mad high. I´ve also come across them being used for trancey/hippy drumming and they work really well. The softer, deeper sound can really create a spacey atmosphere with some ghanian or haitian rhythms. Again, not traditional, but pleasant.
Last edited by dleufer on Tue Mar 31, 2009 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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By e2c
A good bass djembe (with cowskin head, sewn, no rings) will get you those sweet, low notes too. IKWYM about the sound - I love it and am hoping to get my own bass djembe within the year. I play dununs partly because they've got that sound (also because of the pitch differences).

Edited to add: Cranking them "mad high" could (IMO) potentially kill the sound qualities that you say you really like...
Last edited by e2c on Sat Mar 28, 2009 11:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
By Paul
I learned for awhile with Thomas Camara a sousou guy living in Gambia, he was using sets of bougs with sticks and getting a kind of bassy krin/timbale effect. quite trippy. He also had one person playing three duns with a bell (which is what i learned) and a seperate sanban. So you had a lot of melody comin from the duns/bougs then 3 djembefola, nice sound.
By zackaa05
Ya know, I'm so drawn to the sound of thick cow skin drums. For me the Bugarabu is like a more compact conga, and I think it is about time I saved up for one!

I've been searching around the web a bit and found a site with many vids:
-there is one clip of this guy on youtube, but the quality is better on his homepage...
here are a few of the other bug vids i've come across:

[video]www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtlL2eizIcE&eur ... r_embedded[/video]
[video]www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfebRR3oQ3g&eur ... r_embedded[/video]
[video]www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgSRkmHhJ5Y&eur ... r_embedded[/video]

Do any members here play or have videos or recordings of themselves playing? I figure I'll pick one up at Djembe Direct or DSD...
By bubudi
thanks for those. i think one of the reasons djembes have taken on more is the larger dynamic range and the distinct slap sound, which is lacking in the bougarabou. there's more wrist to the bougar slap and it sounds far mellower than the djembe slap. the bougarabou sound best to me in the solo style where one master plays 3 or 4 at once and all the subtleties can be heard. bougarabou playing gives me some ideas for playing cow skin djembes... all those beautiful sounds.
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By e2c
Actually, I'm surprised that bougarabou isn't more popular in the US - I think most conga players would glom onto it right away, if they had a chance to hear good playing and get hold of high-quality instruments. Seems like a very natural switchover, in all kinds of ways.

One thing that's different - not nearly as much sustain as a conga, although that's true of djembe as well. (Actual wood djembes from Africa, that is!)

As far as "wrist," I think there actually is a lot of it in djembe slaps (especially when aiming for a variety of sounds/tonal qualities), but it's just not as obvious as it is with some of the bougarabou players in the videos above (like the guy in many of the vids zack posted).. Check the vid that onetreedrums posted, for example... pretty subtle motions there.
By zackaa05
e2c I totally agree -- and would love to see info spread about the bug. I also hear the point about dynamic range and and goat slaps being a pro for the djembe, but of the bugarabus I have been able to play, I was able to get deliciously wet conga-like slaps, not to mention the deeply satisfying range of closed slaps possible. The history of the Bugarabu is much more elusive, not to mention finding players or recordings, so I guess it makes sense that there are only a couple places you can even purchase them on the web.

e2c -- in reply to your initial post in this thread -- did you in fact buy a set? If so I'd love to see some pics or a short video or something!

By bubudi
the traditional slaps (as seen on the video posted by onetree) are nothing like a conga slap. by 'wrist' i was refering to a forward wrist tilt that is not used on the djembe slap.
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By e2c
I wasn't intending to compare the technique to conga playing - but the sound! I think it's perfect for conga players who want to add other kinds of sounds and tonal colors to supplement (or even stand in for) congas. It's that full, rich sound you can get from cow...

Also, since there isn't a lot of info. available - let alone teachers here in the West - I kind of think it's premature to talk about technique in a definitive way. (Just my thought; might be that some of you have far more experience with this instrument... from the source.) My other hunch is that it's been played by some people here in the US who are part of the "old-time" drum and dance community - and that's a small group of people, from the 1940s 'til today.

zack, nope - I don't own any of these drums yet, but they're on my very long list! (A bass djembe is going to come before these, I think. ;))

Edited to add: I think there's plenty of room for playing any/all of these instruments in non-traditional ways while also staying true to the roots styles. I sometimes play my sangban like an Indian double-headed drum, with it across my lap; sometimes I just play one head, frame drum-style. You can get an amazing range of sounds on the duns with hands alone. I wouldn't play in this fashion for W. African-style playing, but as a percussionist (overall), I see huge value in the wide range of sounds/effects that can be used for non-trad. gigs and jamming as well as recording. (Not that I've got any gigs right now, though... wish I did.)
Last edited by e2c on Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
By Paul
Would love to see Bougs kicking off. Am just moving into conga playing at the end of the day latin sells at the moment, there must be about fifty Salsa classes n Dublin and not an afro dance teacher in sight. People are asking me for something a bit lighter than a ballet style performance ( alot lighter).

There are thousands of south americans here and if you fill the bar with lovely brazilian girls the men will follow and bar manager is happy.

The bloody economics of it.
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