Other west African instruments, like balafon, ngoni etc.
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By drtom
I'm pretty knowledgeable about African talking drums (to the extent that I can reskin them in the traditional manner or with other techniques I've explored).

Recently, a client brought to me a couple of vintage African drums, including a talking drum (As many of you know, African talking drums are hour glass shaped, double headed drums with the two heads tethered to each other). This drum was typical of the talking drums with which I'm so familiar in terms of size, shape, proportion and head mounting. I even recognized the wood.

Atypical was the SINGLE head tethered to the base of the shell:
IMG_4ei8wb.jpg (248.05 KiB) Viewed 1183 times
I lit up the second I saw this drum because it was a first for me, but also because a one headed talking drum immediately made sense to me for a couple of reasons:

1 - Only one head is played on a talking drum.

2 - Wouldn't an open throated talking drum resonate better?

I had never before seen or heard of a one headed talking drum, and I'm hoping one of you can educate me on this. Anything you can share about this drum would be most welcome.
Last edited by drtom on Wed Apr 18, 2018 3:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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By the kid
That's well interesting alright. It would make it more bass y aswell. Looks like a mini talking djembe too. Care to share any of your talking drum building knowledge as I,be 2 to do sometime. Interested to hear different mounting techniques anyways. Any photos of your work
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By drtom
Here's one Sir Kid:


The drum's owner was open to going with the non-traditional approach. I was willing to do it because this is a really fine shell worth the effort. Plus I got to try out my idea.

The original construction was traditional, though with cotton lacing, rather than the rawhide much more often used:


I have since mastered this exact construction, where the stitching of the skin simultaneously anchors the rawhide lacing. These for example:
talking-drums.jpg (210.76 KiB) Viewed 1156 times
Maybe 'mastered' isn't quite true - it's still a deliberate process for me. I'll get there.

But I'm still hoping to learn about the one headed talking drum.